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x0x The Anatolian art of hand-printed textiles

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    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2005
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      x0x The Anatolian art of hand-printed textiles

      By Dr. IDIL AKBOSTANCI

      'Yazma' is the name given to the application of designs
      to textiles either directly with a brush, or using a
      wooden mold on which the design has been carved in
      relief, or in combination. The second is known as
      'block-printing' in the West. Although the
      hand-printing of textiles first developed in the
      cultural melting pot of Anatolia, the most beautiful
      specimens today are found in Istanbul. Based on
      examples from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, which
      provide information about the history of hand-printed
      textiles, the major centers for this art in the Ottoman
      period were Amasra, Bartin, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep,
      Hatay, Istanbul, Kastamonu, Tokat, Yozgat and Zile. The
      loveliest specimens from Istanbul, which rose to
      prominence with its hand-painted 'Kandilli' textiles,
      highly prized for their artistry, were produced in the
      17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

      COLOR AFTER COLOR, DESIGN UPON DESIGN

      Three basic methods are used in the art of
      hand-printing textiles: hand-painting, block-printing
      or a combination of the two. The original printed
      textiles were hand-painted, with the block-printing
      process developing later.

      The instrument used, known as a 'kalem', is in fact a
      brush which the master printer employs with consummate
      skill as if writing with a pencil. Production of such
      hand-printed textiles commences with the application of
      designs previously drawn on paper to a piece of cloth
      stretched over a frame. The outlines are first traced
      using only a brush, and the areas to be colored are
      then filled in, exactly as if making a painting. Prints
      of this type are also known as 'hand-prints'. In the
      combined technique, the outlines are first printed on
      the cloth with a wooden mold, and the colors then
      filled in with a brush. In block-printing both the
      black outlines and the colored areas are applied to the
      cloth using appropriate molds. Such designs are carved
      in wooden molds by master printers using special
      knives. The beauty and refinement of the surviving
      examples of such molds attest to the high level of
      expertise attained in this art during the period.
      Formerly natural dyes were used on hand-printed
      textiles for applying the colors, which are laden with
      symbolic meaning. Lovely reds and yellows, extracted
      from various plants and insects, were transmitted to
      the cloth in a wide variety of designs.

      With the invention of the first synthetic dyes in the
      mid-1800s and the subsequent rapid development of the
      chemical dye industry, natural dyes largely disappeared
      from hand-printed textiles. Although the motifs and
      compositions on traditionally produced textiles colored
      with natural dyes exhibit regional differences, the
      predominance of nature manifests itself in this as in
      all branches of Turkish art.

      Motifs such as stylized tulips, carnations, cherries,
      and pomegranate trees are frequently encountered
      alongside the occasional stag, horse, cock, sparrow and
      peacock motif.

      Products of the Turkish art of hand-printed textiles
      fall into two categories, 'Karakalem' and 'Elvan',
      depending on the coloring method used. The former are
      produced by applying black dye on white cloth with a
      mold. The 'asindirma' prints made on black cloth also
      belong in this group. Even the colorful 'elvan' prints
      always use black to outline the designs. Such black
      contours are common to all the regions despite regional
      differences in design and color.


      DELICATE ISTANBUL PRINTS

      Istanbul prints exhibit a refinement of taste and
      feeling and all the beauties of nature in a
      multiplicity of colors. Since Istanbul was the capital
      of the Ottoman empire, the designs and compositions
      used in the art of printing interacted with all the
      other handicrafts, such as embroidery and tiles.

      The primarily symmetrical floral compositions on
      hand-printed textiles are either dyed separately or in
      groups. Black, brown and dark red tones predominate on
      the prints of Tokat. The most salient characteristic of
      'karakalem' and 'elvan' prints which employ the
      block-printing method is that the design covers the
      entire surface of the cloth.

      Apple and cherry designs are the most common on Tokat
      prints.
      While the predominance of black is conspicuous on
      Kastamonu prints with their circular compositions,
      colorful flowers printed on a black field are a style
      peculiar to Bartin.

      Prints from the Gaziantep region meanwhile distinguish
      themselves by both materials used and techniques
      employed.

      The design is applied on silk using the techniques of
      printing and tie-dyeing. While fluidity and ease of
      exposition attest to the expertise of the printers
      despite regional differences in composition or color,
      the designs that characterize the Turkish art of
      hand-printed textiles are yet another illustration of
      the richness of Anatolian culture.

      HAND-PRINTED TEXTILES IN THE PALACE

      Hand-printed textiles such as head scarves, quilt
      covers, tablecloths, prayer mats, pillowcases,
      handkerchiefs, couch covers, napkins, towels, shirts
      and turbans were some of the highly prized items in the
      palace during Ottoman times. Among them, those still
      used widely today are the 'yemeni' or head scarves,
      whose names vary from region to region.

      Elaborately crocheted borders, three-dimensional like
      lace, are characteristic of such head scarves. As in
      the art of hand-printing, the most common motifs used
      for these border decorations are the stylized forms
      inspired by nature. The use on the crocheted borders of
      the same floral shapes
      printed on the cloth is a beautiful example of the way
      these two handicrafts developed hand in hand.

      The art of block-printing, which constitutes the
      essence of the advanced technologies later developed
      for the printing of cloth, is slowly vanishing today.
      The traditional art of hand-printing cloth, once
      practiced so intensively in several regions of
      Anatolia, survives today on a limited scale in Tokat
      and Kastamonu.
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