Ebru paper

In the 1950s and early 1960s the Turkish maker of marbled paper, Necmeddin Okyay from Istanbul, developed a special kind of floral marbled paper. By means of the pipette and a sharp, pointed object the floral designs are drawn on the marbling that has already been made in the marbling tank. The resulting background and pattern are then transferred to a sheet of paper in one go. This marbling technique was used for the ‘Ebru papers’, originating from the old Turkish tribes of Central Asia. Although there is little reliable data about the genesis of this paper, it is supposed to have been made since the sixth century. The term ebru may be derived from ebr, meaning cloud. The oldest dated Ebru papers were mostly used as carriers or frames of calligraphic texts, but also used in bookbinding for end leaves.

The Ebru papers are the basis of the subsequently developed marbled papers. Due to the increasing use of ‘ordinary’ marbled papers as end leaves or book covers from the seventeenth century onwards, the art of making Ebru paper faded more and more into the background. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, however, there has been a true revival, with the ‘Necmeddin-Ebru’ of Okyay as an important stimulus.

The unusual decorated paper with a design of red and yellow tulips on a dark- and light-blue marbled background reproduced here, was acquired in 1971 together with other Oriental decorated paper, as part of the extensive collection of Henk Voorn. This became the basis for the present paper-historical collection.

Necmeddin-Ebru. Necmeddin Okyay. Istanbul, 1962-1964. 498 x 349 mm. PC I.B. 3.g.

Necmeddin-Ebru. Necmeddin Okyay. Istanbul, 1962-1964. 498 x 349 mm. PC I.B. 3.g.


N. Sönmez & Y. Jäckle-Sönmez. Ebru. Türkisch Papier. Tübingen 1987.