Erbu, also known as paper marbling, is a centuries old tradition originating in East and Central Asia, as well as in the Islamic world. Although the final product can now be easily imitated by modern manufacturing, the traditional craft lives on in some skilled individuals. Film maker Oguz Uygur’s parents practice erbu and he has documented their meditative process in a beautiful short film.
To begin the process of paper marbling a shallow tray is filled with water. Ink or paint is then applied to the surface by spilling, dripping or spraying. Those patterns are then pulled using needles or combs into beautiful patterns. Finally, a single piece of paper is laid on top of the water, absorbing the intricate design.
See the whole process for yourself in Uygur’s film below.