THE ART OF KAAT’I (CUT OUT RELIEF)

Kaat’i is the art of stenciling intricate designs into leather or paper. For the last 700 years, Ottomans have used it to decorate the bindings of religious and philosophical texts. A nevregen, or a small, sharp knife was used to carve into the paper and the leather. The process of pasting was done with a mixture called cirisli muhallebi. This was a mixture of milk, rice flour and book binder’s paste. The surfaces on which the cut-outs were pasted was called male. Those surfaces on which the cut-outs were directly carved were called female.