WRITING TOOLS AND MATERIALS
Seasoned reed is the main writing instrument with the end cut into an angled nib, which must be recut regularly as it wears. Even the slightest deviation in the width of the nip after recutting noticeably alters the appearance of the writting, which is considered a serious artistic flaw. The proper size of the letters in each script is measured in dots, and the size of the dot depends on the width of the nib. Thus the pen is the most vital element in the aesthetic quality of calligraphy. Although the primary requirement for the tools used in calligraphy is soundness and usability, artizans lavished more care and attention on these tools than on the tools of other trades, creating objects of great beauty. Many are of museum quality. Pens are sometimes kept in a case containing an inkwell at one end, known as a divit and sometimes in cylindrical or rectangular boxes called kalemdanlar. The cyldrical kalemdan is also called kubur.
Because raw paper was normally white and tired the eyes, it was first dyed, sized with a substance called ahar and finally burnished to smooth and stabilize the surface. This process, still used today, results in a paper that is as glossy and smooth as though it has been calendered between rollers. Vegetable dyes are used to color the paper. A cream or tan color produced from tea is the most popular. Among the other substances used to dye papers, and the colors they produce, are pomegranare skins and the green outer skins of walnuts (brown); seeds of buckthorn (yellow); red logwood (red); purple logwood (purple); the dark brown soot formed in the chimney os a confectioner's stove during the production of cramel (yellowish white); and onion skins (reddish). After dying a coating of ahar size is applied over the paper surface to prevent the soot-based ink from penetrating the fibers of the paper. Papers prepared with ahar also improves with age. The most common size is egg whites mixed with alum amd applied with a sponge. Starch or flour boiled with water into a thin paste can also be used. The paper is burnished with the cakmak muhre, a wooden tool with handles and a protruding piece of polished flint in the center. Holding the muhre by its two handles, the calligrapher exerts presure on the stone and moves it forward and backward over the paper, giving to it a bright sheen. The paper is then stored for atleast a year, until it is ready for use. The pen will glide on paper such prepared and it is possible to correct errors by wipiong or scraping. Official documents of the Ottoman Empire, however, were written on burnished but unsized paper- which absorbed ink- so as to prevent forgery or alteration.
The palette in caligraphy is generally black lines, produced with lampblack ink, on a light background. He soot that is the main ingredient of lampblack ink is obtained by burning such substances as linseed oil, beeswax, naphtha, or kerosene. Gum arabic is added to bind the carbon particles to the paper. This ink never fades. The two-storey house has a stone foundation, with walls of wood and adobe. The pitched roof is covered with gutter tiles. Again the lower floor is reserved for livestock and storage areas. A stone staircase leads up to the second storey, where a long narrow sofa runs along one side of the building. The rooms all lead off the south side of the sofa, which has a kösk or seating area whose ceiling is decorated with the motifs typical of the period.
Reference: Ugur Derman/Sakip Sabanci Collection, Istanbul.
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):