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Turkish Ebru Painting

Ebru is a traditional Turkish form of painting that is described as “painting on water.” It has been practiced in Turkey since the 13th century. Marbled paper has been used as a background for calligraphy, religious texts, and to decorate special books. For many centuries people have thought that Turkish artists’ marbling styles were the most advanced and skilled in the world.

Ozcan pulling comb
All photos: Hümeyra Ozcan demonstrating
Ebru painting at the NH Turkish
Cultural Center.

To create the marbled paper, water is thickened by adding the gum from the tragacanth plant. This creates an oily surface which helps paint pigments float on top of the water and not get absorbed. An Ebru artist then takes a needle, a special comb, or brushes made out of horse hair to swirl the paint pigments together in endless patterns. Most Ebru artists spend years apprenticing or learning from a Master teacher. Once the artist is happy with the pattern, absorbent paper is carefully laid down on top of the water and lifted back out in one motion.

The New Hampshire Turkish Cultural Center in Manchester offers Turkish cultural classes in the arts, language, cooking, and more for New Hampshire's growing Turkish community. They are proud to have skilled artists like Hümeyra Ozcan living in New Hampshire and to be able to share this cultural tradition with other community members.

drawing flower
marbled paper
Photos and fieldwork by Becky Field.

New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
19 Pillsbury Street - 1st Floor, Concord, NH 03301