The art of paper marbling has a special day of celebration all over the world thanks to artist Atilla Can, whose efforts led to marbling being added to the UNESCO list
The Turkish art of paper marbling, known as “ebru,” was added to the United Nations’ world cultural heritage list in 2014 as the first Turkish art recognized by UNESCO.
The name behind this success is ebru artist Atilla Can, who is also known for his successful organization of “World Marbling Day,” which has been celebrated in various Turkish towns for the last four years.
Last year, the special day was celebrated in the north province of Yalova and the “world’s biggest Turkish flag made by ebru” entered the Guinness Book of Records thanks to Can.
Speaking about his efforts to carry this art to the international field, Can said his works were in many collections in Turkey and around the world.
“I always felt that the art of marbling is a universal one. Then I thought that this art was not very known in the world and something should be done to promote it,” he said, adding, “Then the idea of the World Marbling Day came up. But it should have an official language and I sent a petition to the United Nations and UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. I asked the art of marbling to be celebrated on the second Saturday of September every year.”
Can continued sending artwork-like petitions to the UNESCO until he was successful. “People thought it was a crazy project and did not believe it. I continued dreaming of the recognition of ebru by UNESCO. I sent some 15 petitions but it was like sending mail into the infinity.”
Can said he finally initiated World Marbling Day in 2012, coming one step closer to his dreams.
Speaking of this process, the artist said, “I came up with the idea of the Guinness [Book of World Records] and we set up the world’s largest marbling set in Istanbul in 2012 with the participation of many artists. Then our adventure started. It turned out to be a project that continued in various towns.”
Artists send their work to UNESCO
Can said that sometime later, marbling petitions from many countries including the United States, France, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Brazil, Algeria and South Africa were sent to UNESCO.
Finally, the Culture and Tourism Ministry was informed about the project. Can said, “The ministry delivered a marbling file to UNESCO and it was added to the UNESCO list on Nov. 27, 2014. For the first time, a Turkish art was put under UNESCO protection.”
He said he has received invitations from 33 countries this year. “We will organize the fifth World Marbling Day this year and many countries have already supported the project. The U.S., Czech Republic and the Netherlands want to host Marbling Day this year. But we have not decided yet where to organize it; it will be announced in the coming days after talks,” Can said.