Contemplation and Craft in Turkish Material Arts

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Tammy Gaber

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Abstract

Books Reviewed: Mehmet Zeki Kuşoğlu, The Ottoman Touch: Traditional
Decorative Arts and Crafts (Istanbul: Blue Dome Press, 2015); Mehmet Zeki
Kuşoğlu, Silver in Turkish Art (Istanbul: Blue Dome Press, 2015); Sema Onat,
Islamic Art of Illumination: Classical Tazhib from Ottoman to Contemporary
Times (Istanbul: Blue Dome Press, 2015); Laurelie Rae, Islamic Art and Architecture:
Memories of Seljuk and Ottoman Masterpieces (Istanbul: Blue
Dome Press, 2015).



The unusual aspect connecting these four books is not the fact that they share
the same publisher or even the same general scope of Turkish arts, but that
they have been authored by practicing artists who have featured some of their
original works between their covers.
Blue Dome Press, a relatively new publisher, has offices in the major
western cities; however, all of the printing done in Istanbul. In addition, the
majority of its publications, which range from Turkish cooking to fiction, from
current affairs to various arts, focus on some aspect of Turkish culture. By
supporting the publication of these texts, one gets the sense that various sectors
of Turkish society continue to value the traditional and important historical
contributions that the featured and other contemporary artists continue to make
to the national culture.
The three artists featured in this review (one is the author of two books)
come from different backgrounds that have enabled them to practice their art
today. Mehmet Zeki Kuşoğlu author of The Ottoman Touch: Traditional Decorative
Arts and Crafts and Silver in Turkish Art, has practiced the crafts of
silverwork and other art forms based on traditional methods for over forty
years. During his career, he has apprenticed with craftsmen – he identifies
them by name – and completed two art degrees in Turkey. His efforts to understand,
reconcile, and ultimately interpret the country’s historical craft methods
through his own creations lends a tremendous insight into the meanings
and processes of crafts, one that brings them palpably alive. Sema Onat, author ...

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