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ILLUMINATION AND GILDING       


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Illumination and Gilding is a part of the art of book. It comes from the Arabic word “zeheb” which means gold and it means turning gold. It is the art of decorating the handwritten manuscripts, written panels and albums, the sultan’s signature with gold gilding and paint. The works decorated with illumination are called as “muzehhep” and the artist making the illumination is called “muzehhip”. The first two or four pages, last pages, top panel where the text begins, heading parts, the beginnings of surah, line spaces, the page edges and corners, the spaces between two verses of poems of the Holy Quran are especially decorated with illumination.The main ingredient of illumination is gold and for usage, it has to beaten to an extreme fineness. After the design is drawn to the paper, it is needled and it is transferred to the actual paper by scattering coal or pencil powder on it. The designs are first contoured and painted with gold, ocher paints. Then, the gold parts are sealed and polished. Halkari is the most commonly used illumination type and its dictionary meaning is gold gilding work. After the motifs are instilled with gold, they are shaded with coloured paint or gold water. In the illumination, decoration elements like needle, point, rose, sun, ruler, zencerek, addition are used. The needles become thinner starting from thick to the ends and end in a sharp form. It provides the proportion and balance between the illuminated parts and blank areas, so that a passage is enabled from the illuminated part to the blank. The illumination decoration used to divide the scriptures and sentences is point. The writing at the edge of the pages indicating to what the page belongs is circled with decorations which its inside is empty, this is named as rose. The motifs bigger than the rose and ornamented ones are called as sun. The pages are framed with two gold lines, one thick and one thin and it is called as ruler. The large border made with flower and other decorations around the page is called as zencerek, the ones engaged to each other with passes is called as addition, the ones which its inside is decorated with flowers and leaves is called as folded branch. In the illumination, designs like flower, leaf, cypress, gulabdan, pitcher, pot, vase, mosque and minaret are seen. The illuminations of Seljuq period are similar to the architectural decorations of that period. They are generally formed with engaged geometrical elements decorated with folded branch, rumi and leaves. Paper began to be used instead of the parchment, but the paper was expensive and costly in manuscripts. The gold had been used as gilding or cut and sticked as leaf. Other than the colour of gold, dark blue is the most commonly seen colour. During the reign of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror (1451- 1481), a lot of manuscripts had been made; all the decoration programs had been determined by Baba Nakkas, the leader of the illuminators and in the illumination workshop. The illuminations of that period were thin, elegant, brilliant and balanced; and decorated with folded branches and little flower motifs. The page edges were generally ruled, gold grounded zencerek has been applied in the borders. The name of the sultan had been written on the first pages of the handwritten manuscripts, the name of the writer and book had been written on the second pages. The most famous illuminator of the 16th century was Mehmet Karamemi. He was the leader of the illuminators during the reign of the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (1520- 1566) and had done the illuminations of the divan in which the poems of the Magnificent with the nickname of Muhibbi were collected. In that period, other than the classical illumination done with the gold and dark blue colour, sukufe style composed of bouquet and single flowers had been formed. In the 17th century, flower elements in naturalist style gained importance. After the return of Twenty-eight Celebi Mehmet to the palace who was assigned to Paris in 1720, the effects of the French Rococo style had been observed in the palace illumination workshop. The western style affected the Turkish character and a new style had emerged. The light-shade, light-dark and perspectives that were not used in the Ottoman illumination had been used for the first time. The motifs in the western style; the flowers, bouquets, wreaths and ribbons inside the basket, vase and pot were employed in a naturalist style. One of the important illuminators of the 18th century is Uskudari Ali Celebi. In the 19th century, in some of the prayer books, there were the pictures of Kabaa, Mekka and Medina; moreover Rumeli and Anadolu Towers, rose motifs had been used. The most famous illuminators of the 20th century are Suheyl Unver, Muhsin Demironat and Rikkat Kunt.