Scriptorium and Style

Working on our own historiated letters in the scriptorium workshop for the last few classes has been a great experience. It has been fun while also making apparent just how much effort goes into a single letter of a manuscript. After this exercise, I can’t even imagine how long it would take and how much patience you would need to illuminate an entire book, especially since our letters were on a much larger scale than they would be in a manuscript, which made the detail work easier. While working on my own letter, I also saw a connection to the idea of style brought up in in Pamuk’s My Name is Red. I tried to combine my own geometric style with more traditional nature-inspired designs for my letter. In the novel, certain characters, like Enishte Effendi, assert that new styles can emerge from combining pre-existing methods of illumination. He says that  even workshops can develop their own styles, which emerge from the individual techniques of each of the illuminators building off of one another and combining with the style of the old masters. However, in some passages of the novel, the characters wonder whether it is really possible to combine two different styles. According to Master Osman, the combination of Eastern and Western art in Enishte’s manuscript results only in illuminations that reflect less skill than those created using only one style. To what extent can you keep your own style while taking influence from other artists?

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