Re: [Marbling] Re: Tobacco leaf juice
- thanks Jake.......hmm...doesn't marbling humble us all, LOL! I always am suspect when any marbler claims to be great! But we can sign them or stamp them....believe me though, there are some I wish I hadn't ever identified as mine!
----- Original Message -----
From: Jake Benson<mailto:handbindery@...>
Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 4:12 PM
Subject: [Marbling] Re: Tobacco leaf juice
--- In Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com>, "IRIS NEVINS" <irisnevins@v<mailto:irisnevins@v>...> wrote:
> Can you let us know more about this manuscript? Sounds wonderful!
The "Organized Treatise on Marbling" is an anonymous text in Ottoman Turkish, and the
oldest technical account in that language. There is one other account written in Persian,
from India, entitled the Risala-ye Khoshnevisi that is about 50 years older.
This manuscript is the possession of the scholar Ugur Derman in Istanbul. Far more than
a text about marbling, it includes many ink and paper sizings and coatings as well. he
publsihed a transliteration of the marbling section in his book published in 1977, Türk
Sanatinda Ebru, and then published a critical editon of the entire work a few years ago. It
is said to have been composed in 1608 CE/ 1017 AH, based on a date written on the front.
Yet I have just noticed a reference to a famous Persian calligrapher in the text, Mir Emad ul
Hassani. It mentions the term "merhum" after his name, indicating that Mir Emad had
already died when the text was written. The problem is that by all accounts, Mir Emad was
murdered in Isfahan in 1615. Hence the text cannot be correctly dates to 1608, but some
time after 1615.
The text also makes frequent mention of a marbler by the name of "Shebek", who had also
passed away before the text was written. We known nothing about the life of Shebek, who
he was, where he came from, or anything. We just know form this text that he was a
marbler, and apparently also wrote some kind of text (nusha-i shebek) that has since been
lost. Many of the additives I just mentioned were derived from this lost account.
Some have mistakenly written that Shebek was the author of the manuscript, but he was
not. Shebek is often listed as the first Turkish marbler known, and then the chronology
jumps to Hatip Effendi in the 18th century. That's a huge gap!. Yet I also think it is fair to
say the the author of the Tertib was probably also a marbler, even though we don't know
Another intriguing feature is that the manuscript lacks the sacred formulas, preambles and
honorifics that are commonly found in many Islamic manuscripts. For example there is no
besmele (invoking the name of God at the beginning), and salawat (blessings on the
Prophet Muhammad and his friends and family), nor similar invocations at the closure of
These are found on a majority of Islamic manuscripts, no matter the topic. Such a glaring
omission is interesting in light of an ocean of claims that all the ebrucular (marblers) were
religious, or even sufi dervishes, or that marbling was considered a spiritual practice, that
training in ebru was similar to the training of a dervish, or that ebru is manifestation of
"God's Will" (or "irada"- remember Danilo's recent comments?).
It has often been said that the marblers were so spiritual and therefore so humble, they
didn't sign their works, which is why we find no marblers signing their papers. I find that
an interesting theory, but far from conclusive. We have great numbers of calligraphers,
painters, illuminators, and even bookbinders and paper polishers who we know were
religious, humble, and yet they still signed or stamped their works. So the lack of a
signature doesn't automatically tell me they were humble dervishes. It tells me it wasn't
considered as high an art form, that it wasn't as repsected as the others. The rare mention
of marbling in most technical and biographical accounts from across the Islamic world
only confirms this in my view. Of course, I could be wrong, but I find this a hasty
generalization. Popular, yes, but still hasty. Turkish ebrucular only started signing their
works in the 20th century, if I am not mistaken.
Simply put, we have no idea if Shebek, or the anonymous author of the text, was very
religious, a sufi dervish, or if they thought this art was a kind spiritual practice. If it was
the case, why omit these necessary formula? It just doesn't make sense.... the time period
was very favorable to these ideas, which makes the lack of any mention whatsoever even
more compelling. This is not to say it isn't possible, but there sure is not much evidence
to support it for that time.
One manuscript, a copy of the Hadikat us Sueda of the poet Füzüli is in a private collection
in Istanbul. The owner wrote an article in which he claimed it contains marbling by
Shebek. Yet there is are some problems with this assertion. The claim is based on an
inscription in a very different hand is seen on the inside cover, stating "ma'a Shebek
Effendi Ebrisi" "with Shebek's marbling". This inscription strikes me as out of place, as it is
not in the colophon, where such information is almost always found. Many examples of
paintings and other works bear are known to bear spurious signatures of famous artists,
simply to dupe people into thinking they are more valuable. It has been going on for
centuries. There are countless paintings with the artist Behzad's signature, which are not
his work. Is this a similar case?
This literary work is dated to 1598 in the colophon, and gives detailed info on who
commissioned it, and who the scribe was. There is nothing about Shebek making ebru in
that colophon. Since we have no idea when Shebek lived or died, we don't know if he was
even alive in 1598. It may be, but it can't possibly be verified. That said, the manusript
does feature early styles of motif marbling.....
These views are my own, and are not seen in published works on marbling to date. I could
be wrong, of course, but I think that these observations do have some degree of merit to
them. Of course, new evidence may yet come to light, and change my opinion.
OK, I'll stop there for now!
> I recall the use of ginger....for what I forget, but the "best" was dandruff...ugh....to
create white spots in the marbling!! Now I hope to be able to finish my breakfast!!!
Ah, now that's from the 10th c Chinese account Wen Wang Si Pu..., compiled by Su-Yi Jian,
from another unknown source.... I'm finishing up my article for the coming Society Annual
about this very topic.
Yet you have to admit that finding a pratical use for dandruff is a bit novel, eh?
> iris nevins
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Jake Benson<mailto:handbindery@b<mailto:handbindery@b>...>
> To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com>>
> Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 6:35 PM
> Subject: [Marbling] Tobacco leaf juice
> Paul, this is FASCINATING!
> I have been studying an early 17th century Ottoman Turkish manuscript entitled the
> Rislae-i Ebri , or "An Organized treatise on Marbling". In this fascinating manuscript,
> is frequent mention of tobacco leaf juice (tütün yapragi suyu) as a color additive,
> many other additives and concoctions. It mentions that this juice can be used to float
> colors as well as bile. So I'm guessing that this juice has a kind of chemical surfactant
> It made me wonder whether this juice would have been extracted in water (decocotion),
> alcohol (an extract), a distillation by -product (like rose-water), or just pressed leaves.
> don't see how you'd get much juice out of a tobacco leaf, so I assumed that it would be
> decoction or an extract. Just what the active ingredient is in this extract is another
> question to be determined. i know nicotine can be extracted in water, and can act as a
> mutagen in this form. Yet is that having an effect onthe colors?
> This past week I've been writing ethnobotanists, tobacco agriculturalists, and even the
> FDA, but none were very helpful, or they didn't repsond. I've found a list of chemicals
> tobacco, but I have no idea what is found in the 'water' or extract thereof.
> How do you make your tobacco leaf juice up to use in decorating slip ware? Perhaps it
> offer up some helpful clues...
> Even more mysterious is the mention of opium as a color additive... and the chemistry
> very difficult to research. For obvious reasons, I'm just not finding any publications on
> using these botanical drugs as an art material!
> > Mocha ware starts with a skip coating but the "trees" are actually metal
> > oxides mixed with urine or tobacco juice, which reacts causing very fine lines.,
> > wonderful to do it.
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