Sheets of Marble

Excactly who discovered the trick of marbling paper, and how, is a mystery. But it is likely that the art of ebru, as it is known, began among the Turks of Central Asia. Perhaps the very first marbling artist was warming himself with a hot salep, one cold evening when the idea occurred to him. Having sprinkled some delicious cumin on his drink, he might have arranged it to make an attractive pattern on the surface. He might even have taken a small piece of paper and imprinted the pattern onto it. If he did, he would have been using the same basic process that ebru artists still use today to make their enchanting decorative paper.

Francis Bacon was sufficiently taken with Turkish ebru to make a note of it. In 1627 he recored that ‘the Turks hhave a pretty art of chamoletting of paper which is not us us in use. They take diverse oyled colours and put them severally in drops upon the water, and stir the water lightly, and then wet their paper (being of some thickness) with it and the paper will be waxed and veined like chamolet or marble.’…

Other Highlights from Cornucopia 6
  • Palaces of Diplomacy, Part 2

    When the summer heat made cool-headed diplomacy impossible, the ambassadors to the Sublime Porte retired to remarkable residences lining the Bosphorus. Patricia Daunt probes their rich diplomatic history, while Fritz von der Schulenburg captures the faded glory of the buildings and their grounds

  • The Land of the Flowering Penguins

    They are smelly and poisonous, but arums and aristolochias are among the most striking wild flowers in Turkey. Andrew Byfield tracks them down.


  • Fruits of victory

    Cherry jam is slightly runny. Rather than adding pectin, it is better to accept that this ruby-coloured jam drips from the toast when you eat it.
    More cookery features


Buy the issue
Issue 6, 1994 Palaces of Diplomacy II
£12.00 / $15.73 / 74.70 TL