Paper Cutting


Kaat'i is the art of intricate paper cutting. The word “kaat’i” derives from “kat”, or “cut” in Arabic. Turkish paper cutting is traced back to the15th century when it was practiced mainly as a book art. During the Ottoman Empire Kaat’i flourished, but by the beginning of the twentieth century only a few artists were still practicing. There has been a revival of Kaat’i in recent decades and it is now used alongside calligraphy and as a visual art on its own.



Derived from the Arabic word for gold, the art of illumination has been practiced as a book art in many Muslim cultures of the world since the beginning of the Islamic era in the eighth century. Turkish illumination is still used in handmade book production but also with calligraphy as an art form in pieces rendered to be framed and hung. Illuminators use tiny brushes to create a wide variety of motifs from crushed gold and gouache paint.




The literal meaning of the word for calligraphy in the Arabic language is “line”. Calligraphy is the preeminent art in Islamic culture. Inspired by the Qur’an, considered by Muslims to the word of God, the beautiful letterforms have developed over centuries by many cultures to reflect the grace of the message of that book. During the Ottoman Empire calligraphy reached a new height and while the change to Latin script during the 1920’s diminished the influence of this art it has never died out. There has been a revival of interest and students from all over the world flock to Istanbul to study this art with the great masters who reside there.



Small pictures painted without representation of light and perspective have their origins in eighth century Uyghur art. Ottoman miniature painting developed during the 15th century under Sultan Mehmet II, drawing heavily from Persian and Chinese artistic influences. Initially miniatures were mainly used for the decoration of books but in time expanded and came to be recognized as an art on their own. The tools used in miniature painting are those also used in illumination.



The art of marbling, called Ebru in Turkish, is an art that is practiced in many cultures from Japan to Europe for centuries. Used mainly in book arts as end paper, calligraphers of the Muslim world have long used it for background paper and for margins in calligraphic pieces. It is produced by floating pigments on water and lifting the designs produced onto paper. Essentially a printing technique, the designs produced in ebru vary greatly.