Khatamkari or marquetry is one of the Persian arts wherein wooden or metallic surfaces articles are decorated with pieces of wood, bone and metal cut in a variety of attractive designs.
Materials used in this craft can be gold, silver, brass, aluminum and twisted wire. Various types of inlaid articles and their quality are known by the size and geometrical designs. Smaller pieces result in a higher value of the artwork.
This craft consists in the production of incrustation patterns (generally star-shaped), with thin sticks of wood (ebony, teak, orange, rose), brass (for golden parts) and camel bones (white parts).
Ivory, gold or silver can also be used for collection objects. These are assembled in triangular beams, assembled and glued to create a geometrical motif such as a six-branch star inside a hexagon.
At times, small cylindrical shapes are compressed and dried between two wooden plates, before being sliced for the last time, in 1 mm wide tranches. These sections are ready to be plated and glued on the object before giving it a lacquer finish.
The tranche can also be softened through heating in order to wrap around objects. Many objects can be decorated in this fashion, including jewelry boxes, chessboards, pipes, desks, frames or musical instruments.
Design and Usage
Khatamkari designing is highly elaborate. In each cubic centimeter of space, up to approximately 250 pieces of metal, bone, ivory and wood are laid side by side. This art, to some extent, has existed in Iran from long ago.
Inlaid articles in the Safavid Era took on a special significance, as artists used this art on doors, windows, mirror frames, Qur’an boxes, pen and penholders, lanterns and tombs.
The ornamentation of the doors of holy places predominantly consists of inlaid motifs. These specimens can be observed in the cities of Mashhad, Qom, Shiraz and Rey.
In the Safavid Era, the art of khatamkari flourished in the southern cities of Iran, especially in Isfahan, Shiraz and Kerman.
An inlaid desk, which is one of the definitive masterpieces of this art, was awarded the first prize and a gold medal in an art exposition in Brussels recently. This desk is now preserved in the National Museum of Washington.
Also, in some royal buildings, doors and various items have been inlaid. The inlaid-ornamented rooms in Sa’dabad and Marble Palace in Tehran are among masterpieces of this art.
In Safavid Era, khatamkari was so popular in the court that princes learned this technique alongside the art of music or painting. In the 18th and 19th centuries, khatamkari declined, before being stimulated under the reign of Reza Shah, with the creation of art schools in Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz.
Incorporating techniques from China and improving it with Persian know-how, this craft existed for more than 700 years and is still practiced in Shiraz and Isfahan.
Currently, this art flourishes in Isfahan, Shiraz and Tehran. Inlay masters, preserving the nobility of their art, have brought forth great innovations in this fine art.
Woodcarving is one of the outstanding Iranian arts, which requires dexterity and artistic skills. It provides wood, ivory or bone in simple or complex shapes for use in khatamkari.
Excellent specimens can be found in historical mosques, palaces and buildings. Some of the Iranian inlaid works are preserved in museums at home or abroad.
Latticed woodwork, which developed later into an exquisite art, is also manually made by craftsmen. Old latticed doors and windows of Iran are famous.
Among other artworks, sudorific inlaid work can be mentioned. In this kind of inlaid work, the artist strictly avoids wood embossment that features a raised surface.
The images carved on natural wood of various colors are finely inlaid. After the application of a fine finish, an even surface is produced. The art of inlaid and sudorific woodwork is supported by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization. These arts are also practiced in private workshops.
Khatamkari is part of Iran’s artistic heritage. Official support can help preserve this heritage for future generations.
Renovation of Monuments Underway in Ahar
The renovation of Sheikh Shahabeddin Ahari’s shrine, located in Ahar, East Azarbaijan province, is underway, said the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO).
Speaking during his one-day visit to the province, Hassan Mousavi also said the renovation of the shrine, which is a historical building, is sensitive and requires a great deal of attention, adding that a section of the shrine was restored in two months, which is a world record.
According to cultural heritage experts, the roof of Sheikh Shahabeddin Ahari’s shrine has sustained 30 percent damage.
He noted that the land and houses located in the vicinity of the shrine will be acquired by ICHHTO in the near future.
The official said the renovation of Ahar Old Bazaar will help boost the region’s economy.
He noted that the representatives of countries who attended the Non-Aligned Movement Summit, held in Tehran, lauded the services provided to the quake-stricken people of East Azarbaijan province by the government, adding that this is a significant achievement for the country.
Mousavi said the National Festival of Handicrafts will be held in Ahar concurrent with the Ten-Day Dawn ceremonies marking the anniversary of the victory of Islamic Revolution.
Referring to the handicrafts produced by craftsmen of the region, the ICHHTO said the hand-woven carpets of Arasbaran region are unique in the world.
Director General of East Azarbaijan Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department Torab Mohammadi said earlier the historical Bazaar of Ahar, which has 500 shops, play a very important role in the economy of the region.
“Extensive efforts will be taken to renovate the shops as soon as possible,” he said.
Mohammadi went on to say that 14 historical buildings of Ahar were damaged by the earthquake, pointing out that the monuments, which belong to Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, will be renovated gradually.
At least 250 people have been killed and over 2,000 others injured in two powerful earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks in Iran’s East Azarbaijan province on Aug. 11.
Iran is located on seismic fault lines, experiencing at least one small tremor daily on average.
Two or three crooks in the streets are on the beat
They will cheat even the moon, with their deceit.
Charlatans, aware in mind, joyous of heart
With their shouts shake firmaments from their seat.
Befriend that hidden face that all souls seek
With those glaring eyes they just stare and mistreat.
Though with face, all faces they despise
Though in this world, both worlds they defeat.
Piously dressed, each other they always fight
Though at war, each other they will complete.
To your face kind, behind your back they are mean
Rose like though appear, thorns are hidden at their feet.
In their hands, thorns will turn into the rose
At night they sow barley, yet by day they reap wheat.
Be humane, serve them, seek, greet, entreat,
Serving all, else compassions will deplete.
Saffron strands, 1 teaspoon
Milk, 125 grams
Plain flour, 500 grams, plus extra for dusting
Fast-action yeast, 1/2 teaspoon
Salt, a pinch
Nutmeg powder (Jowz-e Hindi), 1/4 teaspoon
Cold butter, 250 grams, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
Sugar, 250 grams
Currants (Keshmesh-e Bidaneh), 300 grams
Cream, 200 grams
Grease a 1-kilogram loaf tin with butter. Heat the saffron strands and milk in a pan over a medium heat until the milk mixture has turned yellow and is almost simmering.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, salt and nutmeg until well combined.
Add the butter and sugar, and rub in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Stir in the currants until well combined. Pour over the saffron-infused milk and stir until the mixture comes together as a soft dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly until smooth.
Transfer the dough to the prepared loaf tin. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 30-45 minutes, or until risen.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
Transfer the saffron cake to the oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the cake is pale golden-brown and has risen.
Set the cake aside to cool slightly, then turn out of the loaf tin onto a plate and cut into slices. Serve with cream.
Health Benefits of Saffron
Saffron has a distinct flavor because of the chemical components in it, namely picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a natural carotenoid chemical compound, crocin, which gives saffron its golden-yellow hue.
These traits along with its medicinal properties make it a valuable ingredient in many foods worldwide.
Saffron contains many plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have antioxidant, disease-preventing and health-promoting properties.
The flower stigma are composed of many essential volatile oils but the most important is safranal.
Research studies have shown that safranal has antioxidant, cytotoxicity toward cancer cells, anticonvulsant and antidepressant properties.
Other volatile oils in saffron are cineole, phenethenol, pinene, borneol, geraniol, limonene, p-cymene, linalool and terpinen-4-oil.
This colorful spice has many non-volatile active components; the most important of them is alpha-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the stigmas their characteristic golden-yellow color. It also contains other carotenoids, including zea-xanthin, lycopene, alpha- and beta-carotenes.
These are important antioxidants help protect the human body from oxidant-induced stress, cancers and infections, and act as immune modulators.
Kurdestan Heritage Registration
Twelve cases of spiritual heritage of Kurdestan province will be registered on the National Heritage List in the near future.