- May 26, 2011
"Khatam" is one of the graceful Iranian handicrafts that is utilized to coat boxes, cases and frames. As an acclaimed expert in Persian archeology has put it a sample of Khātam is: “a pair of doorposts belonging to the year 1591, with background of walnut, tiled with bones and various pieces of wood, and is called ‘Khātambandī’.” The origin of the name may come from the fact that in one centimeter of ‘Khātam’ more than 200 pieces of wood, metal and bone are employed-something that demands a great deal of dexterity, precision and patience. Tiny triangles of wood, bones (camel’s and ivory), metal (gold, silver, copper and brass), glue and tools such as thin saws and files are among the typical items utilized in making of “Khātam’.
Mina’ is one of the most traditional handicrafts of Iran whose origin dates back to around 2000 B.C, when it had originated in Iran. As professor Pope has put it in his book ‘The Survey of Iranian Art’: “Enameled working is the brilliant art of fire and soil, with baked, luminous colors that dates back to 1500 B.C.”
Enameled working is done through two different methods; the first method is to turn the colors into soft powder and mix them with water and glycerin, and then solve them on a glass surface and finally drawing the desired design on the object, just like an ordinary water color painting. In the second method, however, the colors are mixed with pine tree ink and the objects are painted using oil color technique. In both methods the enameled objects are heated on an alcohol burner to burn the ink, before putting them in the kiln. Next the enameled objects are glazed and put back in the kiln again. Nowadays the copper is used as the foundation of the enameled work. The employed copper has to be pure and of high quality. The necessary tools for this craft are: kiln, clamp, pliers and brush. Esfehān is the chief center of this enameled work.
‘Qalamkār Sāzī’, which is a type of dying the cloths, is one of the most ancient crafts in Iran. In ‘Qalamkār Sāzī’ the foundation cloth is usually calico or loincloth, but silk cloth are also used .In the dying process, at first the foundation cloth is colored milky white. Next the cloth is washed and dried, and then the designs or patterns are transformed to the cloth with a wooden signet; the signet is put on a cushion soaked in dye and subsequently is struck on the cloth. The hitting spot is very important and needs the artisan’s skill and precision, since the design might be composed of five different colors; the employed colors are customarily back, red, green, blue and yellow. Finally the cloth is heated so as to stabilize the dyed colors and patterns and then is washed again. The chief centers of this handicraft are Esfehān and Dāmghān.
Gīlīm is one of the traditional and enchantingly beautiful handicrafts of Iran whose oldest sample dates back to the Parthian era. Although more than thirty different types of Gīlīm have been discovered, it is possible to classify Iranian carpets into three categories:
1- The category of plain, two-sided and flat Gīlīms that are woven by ‘Pūdgozārī’ (weft-placing) method. These Gīlīms –that are only made up of weft and wharf- are thinner in comparison with other types of Gīlīms, and identical designs are used on both sides which enables the customer to use either side of them to his discretion. Gīlīms of Seneh and Bījār in Kordestān Province and Gīlīms of Ardabīl, Semnān and Zanjān are put in this group.
2-The group of one-sided or ‘Sūmak’ Gīlīms that are woven by means of ‘Pūdpīcheshī’ (weft-twisting) method. These Gīlīms are thicker than the ordinary ones and have weft, twisted wharf and thin warp. Since the surplus of twisted wharf is hidden at the back of this type of Gīlīm, it consequently becomes one-sided and thicker than Gīlīm, and the colored threads spread miscellaneously on the back side.
3-And finally the third group of Iranian Gīlīms is ‘Golbarjasteh’ (flower-embossed) Gīlīms that are one of the fascinating and most significant handicrafts of Iran, due to its considerable beauty and delicate simplicity. The weaving equipment in ‘Golbarjasteh’ is the same as ordinary, two-sided Gīlīms, but its discrepancy lies in its weaving method. In this method the foundation (background) of the Gīlīm is woven using the standard Gīlīm-weaving method, but in flower-embossed areas the carpet-weaving procedure is employed (knotted and fuzzy). The ingredients of ‘Golbarjasteh’ Gīlīms are cotton, wool, and silk yarn that can be utilized by the artists according to their tastes or the customer’s orders. The finest samples of Golbarjasteh Gīlīms are found in Īlām, Kohgīlūyeh, Markazi and Fars provinces.
One of the branches of decorative handicrafts of Iran is called Negārgarī or ‘Miniature’ which the latter term means a microcosmic nature. In the Iranian art of miniature, however, the nature is not depicted as in photos or pictures, but rather is drawn according to the artist’s will and taste. In the past the drawing apparatus including the brushes and colors were made and prepared by the artist himself. The brushes were made of cats’ or sables’ fur and the colors were taken from plants and mineral substances. Nowadays the art of Negārgarī has evolved and become more modern; the schools of Shiraz and Harāt have contributed to this transformation with their outstanding and distinctive features. One of the most distinguished artists of Iranian miniature and a national glory is Mahmūd Farshchīān, whose artistic, inventive and characteristic methods and masterpieces are well-known all over the world.
Pottery or ‘Sofālgarī’ is one the most acclaimed and renowned, traditional handicrafts of Iran which that refer to the art of making different kinds of pottery and crockery of baked clay such as bowls and jars. The kind of pottery without glaze is called “biscuit pottery (Sofāl)”. Iranian ‘Sofāl’ or earthenware is made of ‘secondary soils’ ( secondary soils are those not fixed in one place but moving all the time. therefore, have less purity and stickiness and are baked in the heat of 950 to 1000 degrees centigrade. The most important secondary soil is clay, whose natural color varies from buff to red.The English term ceramic contains the exact meaning of ‘Sofāl’ in Persian which is produced in most provinces of Iran such as Hamadān, Tehrān, Qom, Esfehān, Yazd, Gīlān, Māzandarān etc.
One of the main centers of pottery in Iran is, however, Kolpurgān in Sīstān Va Balūchestān Province that is well-known for its distinctive making-technique that is briefly dealt with here; In Kolpūrgān the crockery is made by string method rather than the traditional pottery-machine. In string method the clay is kneaded and shaped into thin strings. Then the clay strings are put together to reach the desired size. Subsequently the potters make a lot of vertical or diagonal lines to fade the lines of the string clays and make the surface appear smooth. After that they draw the desired shapes and designs on crockery, and finally put them into kilns. Kolpūrgān’s earthenware are not enameled which resembles the earthenware of primitive men.
It’s one of the Iranian handicrafts that refers to all the products that are made of ‘primary soils’ and have been kilned and glazed. (Primary soils are those that have greater purity and less stickiness owing to the fact that they have not been transformed ever since their coming into existence and have remained fixed. They also need 1200 degrees centigrade of heat to be baked. White soils and stoneware soils are cases in point.) At present the art of ceramic making is popular in Iran in forms of making vases, plates with various glazes-craved and painted.
It’s one of the traditional handicrafts of Iran that its origin goes back to the Sogians period that lived in Caucasus around 5000 to 7000 years ago and had Aryan origins. Engraving is done on different metals such as copper, brass, silver, gold and also some alloys. To engrave, first the back side of the work is covered by tar so as to prevent the work from causing a lot of noise, as well as getting punctured as a result of the hammering. Then the chosen designs or patterns are engraved on the work by different chisels. After the engraving is done, tar is removed from the work and the chiseled area is covered with charcoal powder and black lubricating oil. Finally the work is wiped clean and the black lines of the engraved designs appear on the surface of the work.