Koranic Illumination, or ‘tehzip’ can be studied in various universities, private classes, or government sponsored programs throughout the Muslim world, with close study with the masters lasting five years. Training begins with simple copying of motifs, to achieve a fluid, confident-- not sketchy-- stroke. While the painting process of the illumination is beyond the realm of this paper, the study of composition, balance of space, and how the student finds originality in the footsteps of the great masters, will be contrasted with the Western concept of drawing.
Based mostly on my studies in a government ‘tehzip’ course at the Topkapi Palace from 2000-2002, and my own fine art training on the East Coast of the US and Europe, this paper will present the philosophical differences between the two approaches to drawing. Images will support the presentation, as well as material from related sources such as E.H. Gombrich’s The Sense of Order, and interviews with Rebecca Salter whose recent exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art presented a blend of her western background with Japanese aesthetic.
Creating a form around a 'tugra,' the stamp of the sultan (created by a calligrapher)
Working out a skeleton- of the design to fill the space
Filling in the motifs on the skeleton
drawings by Julia Townsend