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Khatam Kari (Marquetry), Persian handicrafts

Khatam Kari (Marquetry), Persian handicrafts

Experience the beauty of Persian Khatam Kari, a time-honored craft from Iran that involves the meticulous inlaying of wood, metal, and bone onto a surface to create stunningly intricate designs. People in Iran adorn their home with exquisite boxes, frames, and other decorative items that showcase the artistry and elegance of this traditional craft. Here you can read everything about Khatam Kariin Iran.

February 8, 2020


Khatam Kari, also known as marquetry, is a captivating art form that involves adorning wooden objects with intricately cut pieces of wood, bones, and metals. These materials are meticulously shaped into delicate triangles, often measuring just 3 millimeters in size. The result is a stunning surface adorned with an array of geometric shapes in various colors. This visually striking technique never fails to captivate and impress visitors with its harmonious blend of rhythmic colors and forms.

While similar handicrafts can be found in countries like India, Syria, and Lebanon, the art of Khatam Kari originated in Iran. It is here that the craft has been refined to meet the highest standards of excellence. The skill and precision required to create these intricate designs have been passed down through generations, making Khatam Kari a cherished part of Iran's cultural heritage. Whether displayed as standalone pieces or incorporated into furniture and decorative items, Khatam Kari showcases the mastery and creativity of Iranian artisans.


A Khatam Kari jewelry box, Persian handicrafts

Khatam Kari - Persian handicrafts

The history of Khatam Kari (Marquetry)

Khatam Kari is an ancient Persian craft that dates back to the Safavid dynasty in the 17th century. It involves the inlaying of small pieces of wood, metal, and bone onto a surface to create intricate geometric designs. The art form was initially used to decorate the walls and ceilings of mosques and palaces. However, it soon became popular among the general population and was used to create decorative objects such as boxes, frames, and trays.

The craft was initially developed in the city of Shiraz but later spread throughout Iran especially in Isfahan city. It reached its peak during the Qajar dynasty in the 19th century when it was used extensively to decorate royal palaces and public buildings. However, with the decline of the Qajar dynasty, the popularity of Khatam Kari also declined.

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in this ancient craft, and many artisans are now working to preserve and promote Khatam Kari. Today, Khatam Kari is considered one of Iran's most significant cultural treasures and is recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.

The Raw Materials Applied in Khatam Kari

To create a Khatam, a variety of raw materials are required:

Various types of wood; such as Ebony, Areca, Maple, and Buxus are used.

Different bones; like Tusk, camel bone, cow bone, and horse bone are also incorporated.

Metal wires; made from copper, brass, silver, and occasionally gold are utilized.

Seashells are another essential component of Khatam Kari.

Additionally, rosin is employed in the process of crafting Khatam.

All these diverse, colorful materials come together to form the intricate patterns and designs that make Khatam Kari a unique art form.

different types of wood for Khatam Kari - Persian handicrafts

Different types of wood for Khatam Kari - Persian handicrafts

Khatam Kari - Persian handicrafts

Khatam Kari - Persian handicrafts

A good piece of Khatam Kari has the qualifications below:

The wooden surface on which the layer of Khatam Kari is inlaid is completely smooth.

The geometrical patterns are symmetrical where they meet at each edge.

The piece of Khatam is completely covered with rosin so that it won’t be affected by the moisture in the area.

The tinier the Khatam patterns on the surface, the more qualified the Khatam craft.

The inlaying of the materials of Khatam Kari should be seamless and the overall design should be aesthetically pleasing.

a Khatam kari jewel box. Iranian handicrafts

Khatam Kari - Persian handicrafts

Today Khatam Kari is still available as an original Iranian handicraft and art in Shiraz and Isfahan and includes ornamenting objects like photo frames, furniture, jewelry box, cane, backgammon, etc. You can always visit workshops of Khatam Kari in historical, bazaars of Shiraz and Isfahan. 


Interested in Persian Khatam Kari and many more Handicraft Exhibitions, and Workshops in Iran?

Book a Tour With PackToIran Team:

Shiraz City Tour

Isfahan City Tour

Iran UNESCO Sites Tour

Iran Classic Tour

Iran Ancient Tour

Iran in Depth Tour



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