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Khatam Kari (Marquetry), Persian handicrafts

Khatam Kari (Marquetry), Persian handicrafts

This week PacktoIran is going to introduce the precious art of Khatam Kari on Iranian art and handicrafts section, which is one of the main Iranian handicrafts made with wood. Read below to get familiar with this amazing art:

February 8, 2020

Khatam Kari or marquetry is the art of covering and decorating the surface of wooden objects with pieces of wood, bones, and metals that have been cut into tiny and delicate triangle shapes (for example 3 millimeters) to create a surface of different geometric shapes in different colors. This eye-catching surface and the harmony of rhythmic colors and forms can amaze a visitor for a while! In other countries like India, Syria, and Lebanon similar beautiful handicrafts are produced but the art of Khatam Kari with this standard originally belongs to Iran.


A Khatam Kari jewelry box, Persian handicrafts

Khatam Kari - Persian handicrafts

The history of Khatam Kari (Marquetry)

It is said that Khatam Kari in Iran dates back to Deylamian Dynasty and was invented in the city of Shiraz, but this art was flourished during the Safavid Dynasty in Isfahan which was the capital of Safavid kings, and notable masterpieces, like the royal Chahar Bagh door in Isfahan and the tomb of Sheikh Safi Eddin Ardebili in Ardebil, which is a world UNESCO heritage. During the Zandiyeh Period, when Shiraz was the capital of Iran, Khatam Kari thrived again and artists were gathered in this city.

The raw materials

To produce a piece of Khatam, different materials are necessary:

  • Different types of wood: Ebony wood, Areca wood, Maple wood, and Buxus wood
  • Different bones: Tusk, camel bone, cow bone, horse bone
  • Metal wires: copper, brass, silver and sometimes gold
  • Seashell
  • Rosin

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 has the qualifications below:

The wooden surface on which the layer of Khatam 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.

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.

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