Khatam kari

Delicate and meticulous marquetry has been produced since the Safavid period. In fact, khatam was so popular in the court that princes learned this technique alongside music and painting.

Khatam means incrustation and Khatamkari refers to incrustation work. This craft consists in the production of incrustation patterns (generally star shaped) with thin sticks of wood (ebony, teak, zizyphus, orange, rose), brass (for golden parts) and camel bones (white parts).

Active ImageIvory, gold or silver can also be used for collection objects. Sticks are assembled in triangular beams, themselves assembled and glued in a strict order to create a cylinder 70 cm in diameter, whose cross-section is the main motif: a six-branch star included in a hexagon.

These cylinders are cut into shorter cylinders, and then compressed and dried between two wooden plates, before being sliced for the last time, in 1 mm wide trenches.
These sections are ready to be plated and glued on the object to be decorated, before lacquer finishing. The trench can also be softened through heating in order to wrap around objects.

Many objects can be decorated in this fashion, such as jewelry/decorative boxes, chessboards, pipes, desks, frames or some musical instruments.

Khatam can also be used in Persian miniatures, making it a more attractive work of art.

Based on techniques imported from China and improved by Persian know-how, this craft has existed for more than 700 years and is still practiced in Shiraz and Isfahan.