Inlaid work It is one of the most well-known and, of course, the most beautiful Iranian handicrafts. In this work the surface which is mainly wooden inlay is decorated with colorful triangles of wood, bone, ivory, oysters and metal. This art is prosperous in different parts of Iran, especially in Isfahan and Shiraz. The art has two main parts: the first part is making and the second part is inlaying. The first part is the initial stages of construction, and cutting stage, and the second part includes the installation stage and finished product.
Their products, due to their practicality and decorative aspect, can be beautiful and precious gifts for anyone.
It is one of the original Iranian arts that exists in several other countries besides Iran, but the cradle of this civilization is Iranian art. Inlaid pulpit of Atiq Mosque in Shiraz is one of the most important prototypes of inlaid art history after Islam, so the origin is attributed to Shiraz.
The antiquity of this art can be considered as examples found in the past, such as pieces decorated with wood and bones belonging to the rise of Islam found in Egypt.
Among the other old examples that have been created with the art of inlay work, we can mention the roof of the main porch of the Atiq Mosque in Shiraz, the inlay of Delshad Palace in Samarkand, the wooden pulpit of the Lebanese mosque in Isfahan and the doors of the Mirror Hall of Golestan Palace.
Also in the literature, inlay is known as a ring due to its small role in making tools. It is made of ivory and camel bones, it has beautiful flower designs and some images are engraved on it.
History of the art of inlay
The beginning of this art dates back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim and was one of the occupations at that time. In the Safavid period when woodcarving flourished the capital was moved to Isfahan.
Inlaid working at the time of Zandieh
Since it was the capital of Shiraz at the time of Zandieh, this art flourished in this region and even many artists from Isfahan moved to Shiraz. During the Zandieh period, most courts and tombs were subjected to this art. Khatam Shrine Fund, Imam Ali and the shrine of Imam Hossein.
Inlay work during the Qajar period
With the coming of the Qajar government, this art of handicrafts stagnated. Even many of the inlays of Zandieh’s time were destroyed due to the Qajar hatred of Zandieh. However, this period was not a good period for Iranian art. With the arrival of Kamal al-Molk and the opening of the school, this art flourished again; the prosperity of this beautiful art was such that most of the tools of Reza Shah were decorated with this art. The doors of the shrine of King Abdul Azim in the city of Rey were made during the Qajar period by artists from Shiraz.
Inlay manufacturing centers
Iran is one of the most important centers for making inlay handicrafts, but as we mentioned, other countries like India, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq also do this art.
The art of inlaying is present in the museums of the world, among which the handicrafts of Iranians can be seen a lot. We can mention a museum called Benaki in Athens and the Brussels Museum. In Athens museum an inlaid chessboard is present and in Brussels Museum there is a beautiful inlay table.
It should be noted that currently, the most important centers of this art, are in the cities of Isfahan, Shiraz, and Tehran.
All kinds of wood, bone and ivory, metal wires, lacquer, silk, razor, oyster, polyester and hammers, saws, drills, gas cutters, scissors, dignity, presses and glue are used in this beautiful art to show the art of handicrafts with complete elegance.
In the first stage designing and preparing materials are necessary, next cutting materials is very important. The mold must be made delicately, so that there is no problem in continuing the work. In the next step, substructure, gluing and polishing are very important. In the past, only the natural green color was used for this art.
In each construction, there are three triangles in the smallest unit and 400 triangles in the largest unit. If design of the inlay is precise and has a small role, it adds to the beauty of the design.
In preparing suitable wood for inlaying, different types of wood such as orange, walnut, boxwood and ebony wood are used. The types of bones used in this art are artificial and natural from the bones of camels, horses, cows and ivory. They`re widely used, because of their whiteness and strength. The metals used in the inlay industry are silver, aluminum and brass. For white color aluminum and silver are used and for yellow brass is used.
Basically, handicrafts are lubricated to make the work shiny as well as to protect it from cold, heat and moisture so as it won`t be damaged. The oils used in the past were from pine sap and over time Havilux oil was used, but today polyester is used for polishing and protection of inlays.
Inlay designs are divided into two types of border patterns and text patterns
- Rhombus pattern
- Josimi pattern
- Shamseh pattern
- Sunny pattern
- Arch pattern
- Toglo pattern
The most important examples are Khatam Ne Goli, Khatam Abri, Khatam Hexagonal with the word Qomi and Khatam Gareh.
It is hexagonal and 20 hexagons and 50 blades are used to prepare its frame: Abri
This inlay is made of 22 wires and a blade of 9 triangles: hexagonal inlay with the word Qomi
The points used for the inlay are knots: Inlay knots
Do not use wet clothes or chemicals to clean inlaid dishes, and don’t put it in direct sunlight and heat.
What are the characteristics of a good inlay?
For this art we need smooth surface and no gaps between the joints and on the work surface. Also, in these handicrafts, only one kind of paint and materials should be used to maintain the uniformity of the work. It should be noted that the lubrication that is done on the work surface, should not have protrusions.
Another point about the quality of an inlay work is that its design must be precise and also the work must be symmetrical to maintain the beauty of the work.