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ArTanit Magazine

The art of illumination

The art of lines, calligraphy , the magic of words and geometry. Illumination come to include all the previous mentioned artistic skills, to offer a new esthetic.

Before the use of printing, books were hardly written,

via pen using black ink and arabic letters on papers that

were polished with aha(minute made with cornstarch and egg white

for polishing the paper) and musher(a device made of glad,

used to make paper smooth and shiny).

Important books were written in "the magnificent writing"

also called (Husn-i hat) and decorated and embellished with illumination, marblings, engravings and miniatures.

Illumination work is progressing nicely! Top row: Nicki Wiseby (l), Mariam Yasin (r). Bottom row: Raanaz Shahid ©

This is how books went beyond their informative value to become a complete art work. Calligraphs, illuminators, miniaturists, painters and marin specialists, they all played a role in the creation of the final product which includes not only the information represented in words and sentences but also bringing with it a spectacular esthetic to dive the reader into a real mystically and artistically experience while reading and observing the book of soul.

A real combination of the the science of meaning and science of the beauty.

Illumination is the name given to the embellishments, which are made with paints and gold, of manuscript books.

Since books are not written by hand, illumination is made as book embellishment.

The art of illumination which was before made to make the writing (hat) seen, to present it, today used on the borders hilye (tablet about Prophet Mohammed) and mostly made as tablets.

(Mine Esiner Ozen, 1999).

The illumination depends on the skills of a number of craftsmen working together to create a finished product.

After writing the body of the work by the calligrapher, it the step of “celvelkes” to rule the margins in gold , black or red ink also called “such”. Then master and apprentices punter the design worked up by the illuminator, who then does the actual drawing of the illumination, by himself or with the help of colleagues.

All this work can be carried out either in miniature salons at the palace, or in studios of great illuminators.

© The National Library of Egypt's Collection of Mamluk Qur'an Manuscripts

In the old times, puncturing the mold is done as follows: Firstly, the illuminator draws the design on a paper, masters and apprentices puts this paper on a hard surface made up of boxwood and zinc.

Then they pin the lines with needle in straight angles without missing any.

After that, this pinned paper is positioned on the back ground that will be illuminated and dusted with charcoal powder.

By this way, the pinned shapes passes onto the true paper.

When these steps are done, the charcoal powder passed onto the paper brought together with a single haired brush and consequently the design appears.

Tolkien illustrator and creator of the Edel-Silmarillion (09.07.09 by Pieter Collier) ©

Illumination was generally made after the book is written. We see this from the illumination that extend over the edges on the books on which the writing itself were extended.

  • "Turkish art of illumination" book, from "Kadıköy Tarih, Sanat ve Edebiyat kutuphanesi" library. -745.67 OZET 2003-

  • The National Library of Egypt, UNESCO Website.

  • Tolkien library website.

  • Ayesha Gamiet website.


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