Self-Veiling إلتباس

Linocut print and gold leaf 23.75ct on paper, hand-assembled. 78x78 cm framed.

Date24 February 2016
Category, ,


The Arabic word iltibâs, from the Semitic root l-b-s, “to clothe”, means “revetment”, but takes on the further meaning of “ambiguity”.

One of the Qur’anic Name of God is As-Sattâr, He Who Veils, and traditionally “70,000 veils of light and darkness” separate us from the Divine. According to some teachings, this Self-Veiling which allows humanity to forget the Divine is necessary for the exercise of free will; at the same time, to those able to see the signs of Unity in the many forms of the world, the veils reveal the very Essence they conceal. Iltibâs “both displays and distracts, reveals and hides.”

I used layers of Japanese paper stamped with the design: they are 7 in number, to symbolize the 70,000, and assembled so as to form a 7-sided geometric figure. Due to the layering, not all parts of the figure are equally visible, so that the pattern seems incomplete at first glance.

However, if you go beyond the first impression and look closer, you can just make out that there is an unified underlying pattern, even though the only way for it to be revealed in its fullness would be for a light to shine for you from the other side.

A penny for your thoughts...