You Marque My Words

I’m an ‘amazed’ person; much of my life is spent saying ‘That’s amazing!’ J is always saying that I’m a very easily amazed person, which I also find amazing because it it true!
I’m amazed by the things I see and learn as I explore in the realms of what used to be called ‘Natural History’ – and I’m constantly amazed at the skill and artistry of craftsmen and craftswomen from around the world and throughout time. Engineers who have created amazing machines; quilters who create amazing works of art with scraps of material; artists who create amazingly atmospheric images with barely a detail; carpenters who created amazing structures without the use of screw or glue like the mimbar in the mosque in Birgi. And now I’ve been amazed by, what I can only describe as, ‘Marqueteers’ – creators of amazing marquetry.
For those not familiar with this form of decoration, it is the use of thin pieces of different types and colours of wood which are cut and inlaid to form ‘pictures’ or geometric designs. It was popular with my granny and her generation and, by default, with Mr Skeets my woodwork teacher at school who was old enough to be my granny. It was also a much favoured DIY type project in the 1960s.
On our recent trip to Tuscany, J and I went with our friends to the lovely old town of Lucca. There, amongst other things, we paid a visit to the Museo Nazionale di Villa Guinigi (we also got free admission as Old Aged Pensioners from the EU – our Aussie friends left out an ‘a’ and an ‘l’ and were let in as Austrians). There is a lot of interesting stuff to see, particularly relating to religious artifacts, but what had me utterly amazed were these . .

what you are looking at is a flat panel – the least amazing and ‘normal’ example

marquetry door panel – now check the detail in the other door below

door panel detail and ‘No! you are not looking through it’

. . and then there was this . .

as you look at this amazing piece, remember that you are looking a flat panel created in the same way as the 1960s DIY picture above

These are just a few representative examples of what is on display; each piece is between two and three metres high. Flash was not used for obvious reasons – the guard would have confiscated my camera!

‘Amazed’, Okçular Köyü

20 thoughts on “You Marque My Words

  1. Merhaba, Alan. You may remember visiting with my husband and I during a coffee/lunch break in the amphitheater in Lucca. Thanks for a wonderful blog, and may I say I’m very sorry we missed this museum! You are right to be “amazed;” these are stunning.

    We leave for Istanbul on Wednesday and I am really excited to get there!

    1. Merhaba . . what a treat to hear from you, and welcome to Archers! J and I remember you both well and your comment generated instant flashback to that ‘amazing’ piazza in Lucca – what a nice town. On behalf of Istanbul and my adopted homeland, let me say ‘Türkiye hoş geldiniz!’ Welcome to Turkey! If you happen to wander down to the SW let me know, also if there is any info etc that would assist you in enjoying your time here.
      Thank you for your kind words.

  2. Awesome. It’s hard to look at those scenes and not want to walk through the door or over the bridge. ( By the way, we don’t remember this type of work in our grans’ homes – maybe it was a ‘British’ thing.)

    1. . . it really is, isn’t it? I had a look online and there is certainly a present day interest in ‘doing’ marquetry in the US. I remember my Nan’s firescreen with an amazing marquetry peacock, bits had fallen out or were peeling, but it was still something to behold.

  3. Those are truly awesome!

    And I do believe that the ability to go on being amazed by the world and the things that are in it is a very large part of what keeps us happy. It’s such as shame that so many lose their sense of awe at the natural and human-created world.

    I sometimes have to be told to stop bouncing…

    1. . . bit too stiff these days to bounce around very much, but the old brain does pretty good on life’s trampoline!

  4. I love Middle Eastern and North African marquetry, certainly amazing. I also love bouncers lol.
    Did you know that present day marquetry is not by any means a male preserve, as many of the most successful exponents are ladies. 🙂 In fact i made an inlaid chess table on a course i attended which was so lovely it was stolen from the school before i coulkd bring it home.

    1. . . not surprised that woman are great at marquetry – patience and an eye for detail. I agree about there being some terrific marquetry around with Islamic culture dictating mostly geometric deigns – it was the 3D picture effect of these examples from Lucca that really grabbed me!

  5. Wow, these are amazing! I’ve seem lots of wood inlay but never anything with that kind of trompe l’oeil.

    1. . . it is astonishing, isn’t? The ability of the ‘usta’ to deceive the eye of the beholder into perceiving depth where non exists is . . . I was going to say ‘amazing’ but didn’t want to repeat myself 🙂

  6. Nice bit of French polishing. I did woodwork for a year and made a spatula. My teacher (or ‘masters’ as we called them back then) said it was for my mother. I told him my mother wouldn’t know what a spatula was. I got detention.

    1. . . it does make you wonder – J made the self-same observation. Escher loved Italy, especially the area around Florence/Tuscany and was much influenced by the countryside and architecture. I do wonder, considering that he was a dismal student (due largely to ill health) with no formal mathematical training, if he was autistic to some extent. The fact that he could, and did, produce pieces of totally exact mathematical dimensions would be a possible indicator.

  7. My comments seems to be getting eaten by wordpress. Try again.
    I’m constantly amazed by how talented everyone is ( except those on UK TV programs looking for talent) whether it’s painting, playing a musical instrument, singing, writing or cooking.

    1. Hi Annie, sorry if you are having problems. Have to agree with all of your comment – never want to lose my ‘amazement’!

  8. Many thanks, Alan. We are beginning to find our way around in this big city and enjoying it immensely. We were very seriously considering a flight to Dalaman to take you up on the offer for a guided hike in your area, but Capadoccia grabbed our attention and we are off to find a winter wonderland in a cave hotel in January. (And Ismir/Selcuk/Ephesus later this week for my birthday.) So I shall continue to visit Okcular via the blog and hope to hike with you on another trip. :o)

    1. . . probably the wisest decision as we are enjoying our winter rains (about six feet in five months) – snow looks so much better, especially when draped across ‘Fairy Chimneys’. You might well enjoy the village of Şirince (say Shi-rin-gee) near Selçuk. Old Greek settlement with many old Ottoman buildings restored and lived in. There is a super boutique hotel near the top of the village., and the village makes a lot of reasonable wine.

  9. reminds me of the Narnia wardrobe that the brothers and sisters walked through – they are truly stellar. I love these photos – and did not know of them, or this art form by name before, so thank you.

    as for you being amazed easily – it is your zest for life, information and consideration of it all that impressed us most this summer. this is a wonderful thing.

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