GACH-BORI, plasterwork or stucco, has been used as a building material in Persia for more than 2,500 years. Originally it may have been applied as a rendering to mud brick walls to protect them from the weather, but it was soon exploited for its decorative effects, as it alleviates the bleakness of brick and rubble walls and provides a ground for applied decoration. A cheap and flexible medium of decoration, it can be secured to almost any material of construction used for exterior and interior surfaces and can be molded, carved, and painted in a wide variety of ways. Stucco was also used for window and balcony grilles and to construct muqarnas (stalactite) vaults. In the hands of Persian craftsmen, this humble material reached unsurpassed heights of artistic creativity.


Stucco (plaster, painted plaster, gachbori), a versatile medium of decoration, though not unknown in earlier periods in Persia, was widely used from the Parthian until the late Qajar periods in all types of architecture.

Gypsum, the mineral from which plaster is made, was widely available. Traditionally, the quarried gypsum was sent on donkey back to the kiln where it was burned, crushed with wooden mallets to the size of hazelnuts, and pulverized in a edge–runner mill. Persian gypsum sets rapidly after being mixed with water, so to make it workable the mixture must be stirred constantly until it loses most of its setting power. This “killed” plaster (gach-e koshte) is applied to walls and ceilings in several coats and does not set hard for forty-eight hours. For fine stucco work, the wet plaster is dusted with powdered talc and gypsum and then rubbed to give a high gloss. For painted surfaces, the plaster is soaked with linseed oil and coated with sandarac oil.


Plaster, known as early as the Neolithic period, became common by Achaemenid times. Achaemenid palaces at Persepolis had brick walls rendered with a fairly thick coat of plaster, which was often painted with earth colors, and the columns of the Treasury Hall had a plaster coating applied to a layer of reed rope coiled around the wooden core.


The Islamic period. While Sasanian stucco was to a large extent molded, especially as square plaques used in a repetitive manner, Islamic stucco was carved by hand. After the end of the Sasanian empire, a number of buildings in the Ray-Varamin region underwent changes in their architectural decoration during the Omayyad period which seem to hint at both a continuity and a change.


Mirror Work

Art of mirrors is surely one of the most delicate architectural decorations in Islamic-Iranian civilization. It is an art defined as forming regulated shapes in various designs and images with small and big pieces of mirror, for decorating interior surfaces of a construction. This artistic style, gives way to a bright and highly shining atmosphere created upon consecutive reflections of light in numerous mirror pieces. As the historical texts testify, this fine and delicate art is surely an invention of Iranian architectures. It seems that some researchers attribute the first appearance of art of mirrors in Iranian architecture in decorating the Porch House of Shah Tahmasib Safavid (1524-1576 A.D.) in Qazvin.


This art that seems, like other Iranian architectural inventions to be invented by the Iranian genius architectures kept moving in the post Safavid era and reached its climax at Ghajar era in constructing saloons like Mirror Saloon of Golestan Palace and especially in constructing religious and holy monuments. In this period, some amazing and exceptional buildings such as Darolsiadah at Astan Ghods Razavi (in 1275 Hejira), Darolsoroor at Hazrat Masoumeh (peace be upon her) shrine in Qum and the architecture of roof of Imam Reza (peace be upon him) shrine, were constructed by using art of mirrors. It was in the very period that small pieces of mirrors in triangle, rhombus, hexagon, etc. Shapes were widely used instead of applying big and flat ones though application of this method dates back to applying colorful rhombus-like glasses and small pieces of mirrors to decorate the roof and walls of the porch and saloon in addition to applying full-length mirrors at Chehelsotoon Palace. As Olearious has mentioned applying some hundreds of small pieces of mirrors in a regular and so artistic way in his account.


Tools and Materials Working Mirror Work

Materials used in mirror art include glue mirrors, isinglass glue and soft plaster. The tools used in the mirror art include design pens, a wooden ruler for putting on a glass, a table under the hand, a glass cutter

Mirrors were very significant and unique metaphors in theosophical and mystical texts in clarifying the proportion between the Right and the creation or manifestation of plurality from unity, and Einol Ghozat Hamedani believed it was merely through mirrors that the Divine beauty and majesty could be realized and studied:

“Alas! You do not percept what I mean. God is light of heavens and earth. The beauty of the prophet Mohammad is merely seen by mirror otherwise, eyes would burn. By mirror, the beauty of sun could be constantly studied and since it is impossible to see the beloved without mirror, she should be seen veiled. Love is doomed to be veiled and mirror is nothing but the majesty and greatness of God”


The Mirror Hall in Golestan Palace

The hall has been renowned as the Mirror Hall for its exquisite mirroring on walls and ceilings, which lasted for four years under the supervision of Iranian artists. On the mirrors, there is a beautiful Stucco art. The carpet of this hall is one of the masterpieces of carpet art in Mashhad, 70 square meters, 70 rows, is of the works of Abdull Mohammad Amo’oqli.


Two kinds of stained glass work became common in Iran: Gereh-chini (decorative wood lattice) and Orosi-sazi (sash-style).

This is one of the branch of architectures and traditional tiling. Gereh is an Islamic decorative art form used in architecture and handicrafts (book covers, tapestry, small metal objects), consisting of geometric lines that form an interlaced strap-work. In Iranian architecture, Gereh-chini patterns were seen in banna’i brickwork, stucco, and mosaic faience work. Gereh has been defined as “geometric (often star-and-polygon) designs composed upon or generated from arrays of points from which construction lines radiate and at which they intersect.


Gereh is the Persian word for “knot” and refers to the complex system of geometric patterns that emerge upon the specific arrangement of 5 fundamental tiles: the decagon, the bowtie, the rhombus, the hexagon and the pentagon. Medieval Islamic designers used this patterning system to form elaborate and breathtaking architectural pieces at least 500 years before Western mathematics was able to define the technique. This art need to spending more time and also more money, so the Muslims try to decorate their holy shrines by that. The geometric design “Gereh”, was widely used to decorate Islamic buildings.


The set of five Gereh tiles decorated with lines that fit together to make regular patterns first appeared about 1200 AD, a time when Islamic mathematics was flowering. The designs grew increasingly complex, and by the 15th century produced near-perfect Penrose patterns found on the Darb-i Imam shrine in Isfahan, Iran.

Sash-Window Making (Orosi-Sazi)

The Orosi Iran is a typical architectural element. It is a lattice window. In this type of art is not operated in any nail or glue: all the images, and the figures are obtained by means of the connection of small wooden junctions, operated with the interlocking male and female. The Orosi have generally rectangular shape; the upper part (located under the roof), adorned with pieces of colored glass, was completed in the usual rectangular shape, half-moon-shaped or barrel-shaped. This type of door or window, widely distributed in tropical areas, had the purpose of regulating and mitigate the sunlight in those particularly exposed homes. However, the use of this art was more or less even spread to other areas


The best examples of the Gereh-chini and Orosi of this art are the ancient homes of Isfahan, Kashan, Shiraz and Yazd include the Chehelsotun, Hasht-Behesht (Eight Heaven), Alam’s House, Sheikh Al-Islam House, Sookias house, Tabatabai’s house, Abbasian house, Borujerdi’s house. Nowadays, Sanandaj is to hold the primacy of this art in the western part of the country.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque where frames of wood and panels of glass are set next to each other in mostly geometrical designs. The refraction of light through the windows creates a stimulating and beautiful atmosphere.

Function of the reticular surface of the Orosi windows:

Orosi windows reduces the power of the radiation and the heat of the sun, no less no more, allows the view of outer space, gives beauty to the facade of the building and protects the privacy of private spaces. From the psychological point of view, the various colors of the glass in the Orosi windows and the creation of their colored lights on human impact, which each color next to the other color neutralizes the effect and adjusts its appropriate amount. Most of the colors used in artistic glass are azure colors of red and green, each of which alone has a distinct psychological impact.


The surface of the Orosi windows is arranged using a variety of different rows of elements, with colorful and simple glasses, and create innovative combinations, making the harmony between these geometric grids and colored lights create a charming beauty.

The colored glasses of the Orosi windows create colorful lights, preventing and disturbing insects from the outer space of the rooms (the colored glass, giving rise to colorful lights, stray and repel insects).


Ghalamkar (Calico) is one of the oldest crafts of ancient Persian which was in the peak of fame for centuries. This sort of cloth is prepared of pure cotton. The Calico (Ghalamkar) implies the creation of a role on a linen cloth, which today is also done on other pieces. The art of printing on the cloth.

The material was called Ghalamkari (brushwork) because of the technique employed in executing it. The word is derived from the Persian words Ghalam (pen) and kari (craftmanship), meaning drawing with a pen (Ghalamkar). ČĪT or Chit cotton cloth decorated with block-printed or painted designs in multiple colors. The term čīt passed into English as “chintz”, now the common designation for any cotton or linen furnishing fabric printed with floral designs in fast colors.

‏The History of Ghalamkar

These fabrics date back to the Sassanid period, the fourth Iranian dynasty and the second Persian Empire (224 – 651 CE). In the 10th century Isfahan was the capital of the kingdom at the time and this art was one of the most important branches of arts in Isfahan province. Bazaar was the center for the artists of Ghalamkar and there were many workshops in the Isfahan market.

This art was very common in the 11th century AH, in the Safavid period, expanded and continued until the Qajar period. One of the most important reasons for this was Shah Abbas’s interest to this art.

During this era, the royals and the elite wore the most exquisite gold and silver threaded “Parcheh Ghalamkar” – Calico garments produced by the artists of the time. The most of artist and industrial came to Isfahan from city of Iran. They start to produce a different handicraft.

These kinds of cloth are very famous in that era. Different types of Calico (Ghalamkar) produced and most men’s and women’s clothing made by it. In the past, Ghalamkar fabrics have served multiple purposes. The Safavid Kings, nobles, and the upper class, wore Ghalamkar silk and cotton clothes ornamented with gold and silver. The fabrics were also used to decorate the interior, frequently utilized as curtains, bedspreads, and wall coverings.

Today’s talented Persian artists hand-produce some splendid Parcheh Ghalamkar – printed textile for various uses such as women’s and men’s clothing, scarves, purses, wallets, decorative table cloths and mats, etc. The city of Isfahan is presently the main center for the creation of printed calico in Persia. Persian handmade upholstery, Calico Printing tablecloth (dinner, kitchen, coffee table, end table) and bed cover in a verity of sizes and designs, 100% Cotton, Organic Color. About Ghalamkar Upholstry: The hand-printed fabric is made in the city of Isfahan, the cultural capital of Iran.

Persian Block-Printing

Usually the cloth used in this art are: Cotton, Silk and Flax.

The most important designs in the art are: Historical sights such as the magnificent palaces of Persepolis, Wild and Domestic animals, Miniature, flowers and bushes, Old Persian Fiction Stories, Poem inscriptions, Topics and historical events, Ashura Epic Stories. Colors in the past have been a variety of natural colors, including plant colors, animal colors and mineral colors. But today, due to the difficult stages of the preparation of natural colors, chemical colors use.

Today, the finest fabrics of Calico (Ghalamkar) is in the beautiful and historic city of Isfahan, as well as the cities of Shiraz and Tehran market. The cotton is being printed using patterned wooded stamps. Each shape is stamped several times with different colored stamps, and the final shape is formed by precisely overlaying colored stamps on top of each other. There are four major colors in the production of Ghalamkar. Four of them are natural (mineral) colors, . After printing, the fabric is boiled in the water to stabilize the color, then is washed in a river (that enhances the color), is boiled again in water, and finally is dried under natural sun light in the riverside. of sizes and design.

Materials and Methods Used colors in GhalamKari: Red and Black are two basic colors used to paint the GhalamKari fabrics. In making black color some materials such as: Gum tragacanth, Iron Oxide, Black alum, Castor oil and for Red color materials such as Rose, Sesame oil, Alum, and Gum tragacanth are used. Sometimes mixed colors such as cobalt blue, green, yellow and brown colors are appropriately used.

Used materials: Calico makers use a wide range of materials, but the mostly used materials are as follows; Unbleached Calico, Long Cloth, Pomegranate peel, Gum tragacanth, herbal dyes such as, white alum, Indigo blue and Glycerine.

Wooden Frames

Gradually, to meet the high demand, the Ghalamkar artists began using wooden frames and stamps that were mostly made from old peach trees. This technique drastically expedited the printing process and enabled the artists to create homogeneous patterns.

Often to build seals or template for Ghalamkar, they used pear wood or kavij for high strength of the wood. After purchasing the woods, they cut them into pieces ten centimeters and exposed to the sun for three years, until completely dry. Also, for each template they used three pieces of wood, this is because over time template does not twist. Then they transfer design on the wood and engraved it by especial tools.

Step by Step to the Final Product

To produce Ghalamkar cloth (figured calico or cretonne), first the cloth must be prepared. this is done by first putting the cloth in a pool for about five days. then, the cloth is bumped hard into a stony surface so that its extra materials get out of its texture. Then, it is left in sunlight to dry and after that put into a combination of pomegranate skin and some other herbal materials so that its color turns yellow. now, the cloth is ready for printing images and patterns onto it to become a cretonne in its final shape.

Printing images on the cloth is done with the use of pre-fabricated templates. The surface of the stamp is saturated with color and then placed on the cloth with precision and order. Then, the stamp is tapped a few times by hand so that the image gets transferred onto the cloth in a perfect manner. Now, it is time to fix the colors onto the cloth. This is done by boiling the cloth in hot water with the addition of a number of certain materials. However, the additives used vary in response to the color that is used in the cloth.

How to Buy a Good Ghalamkar

You have to pay a close attention to the patterns and images on the cloth. In a Ghalamkar cloth with low quality, the patterns and images are not transferred onto the cloth properly and, technically speaking, in low-quality figured calicos there is color dispersion. The higher quality Ghalamkars are thicker and the authentic ones have a lacinated or torn-shaped and curved edge.

Warnings and Cautions

  • Buy such items from the credible stores where Iranian handicrafts are sold.
  • Do not wash your Ghalamkar with strong wishing materials and do not put them in the washing machine. This is because washing them with water, shampoo, and hand prolongs their useful life.

The exalted art of Ghalamkar is a symbol of longevity, love, and resilience of an ancient tradition that through many peaks and troughs, has been passed to us generation after generation, and heart to heart but It seems that after the pinnacle of popularity, this tradition has entered a stagnant stage and if not for the artists, the legacy may not have survived.

The creation of Persian tiles began about 1200 A.D. and Persian tiles decorating reached it’s zenith in the 18th and 19th centuries. On any tour for first time visitors, there are the “musts,” of course: the ancient ruins at Persepolis, the gardens in Shiraz, the palaces and mosques in Isfahan, the Crown Jewels in Tehran. But in just about every setting, artistry hides in plain sight: in carpets, calligraphy, pottery, miniatures, and the favorite one: Iranian tiles, which are dizzyingly, deliriously magical.


Simply put, Iran has the most beautiful tile work in the world. Over the centuries, glazed bricks and tiles have been used to decorate palaces, mosques, monuments, mausoleums, official buildings, schools, and shops.

The impact of Persian tiles occupies a prominent place in the history of Islamic art. Recognized for having one of the richest and varied art legacies, Persia (now Iran) used this form of art to decorate palaces, public buildings, monuments, mausoleums, and religious buildings, such as mosques and theological schools.


The importance of tile-work in Persian architecture arises from two important factors; first the need to weatherproof the simple clay bricks used in construction, and secondly the need to ornament the buildings. Tiles were used to decorate monuments from early ages in Iran. Everywhere you go in Iran you will see glistening, multi-colored tiles, coating the walls, domes and minarets of mosques, and decorating the edges of every kind of building from schools to government offices. The tiled domes of Iranian mosques, reminiscent of Faberge eggs in the vividness of their coloring, are likely to remain one of your abiding memories of Iran.


The earliest evidence of glazed brick is the discovery of glazed bricks in the Elamite Temple at Choqa Zanbil, dated to the 13th century BC. Glazed and colored bricks were used to make low reliefs in Ancient Mesopotamia, most famously the Ishtar Gate of Babylon (ca. 575 BC), now partly reconstructed in Berlin, with sections elsewhere. Mesopotamian craftsmen were imported for the palaces of the Persian Empire such as Persepolis.

The Achaemenid Empire decorated buildings with glazed brick tiles, including Darius the Great’s palace at Susa, and buildings at Persepolis.


The succeeding Sassanid Empire used tiles patterned with geometric designs, flowers, plants, birds and human beings, glazed up to a centimeter thick. Early Islamic mosaics in Iran consist mainly of geometric decorations in mosques and mausoleums, made of glazed brick. Typical turquoise tiling becomes popular in 10th-11th century and is used mostly for Kufic inscriptions on mosque walls. Seyyed Mosque in Isfahan (AD 1122), Dome of Maraqeh (AD 1147) and the Jame Mosque of Gonabad (1212 AD) are among the finest examples. The dome of Jame’ Atiq Mosque of Qazvin is also dated to this period.


A most famous example of early tile art on wares is the mosaic rhyton discovered in the excavations at Marlik. This vessel has two shells. The outer shell is covered with colored pieces of stone. This object is known as “Thousand Flowers”. This art has been improved in the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanid periods.


During the Safavid period, mosaic ornaments were often replaced by a haft rang (seven colors) technique. Pictures were painted on plain rectangle tiles, glazed and fired afterwards. Besides economic reasons, the seven colors method gave more freedom to artists and was less time-consuming. It was popular until the Qajar period, when the palette of colors was extended by yellow and orange. The seven colors of Haft Rang tiles were usually black, white, ultramarine, turquoise, red, yellow and fawn.


The Persianate tradition continued and spread to much of the Islamic world. Palaces, public buildings, mosques and tomb mausoleums were heavily decorated with large brightly colored patterns, typically with floral motifs, and friezes of astonishing complexity, including floral motifs and calligraphy as well as geometric patterns.

The golden age of Persian tilework began during the reign the Timurid Empire. In the mora technique, single-color tiles were cut into small geometric pieces and assembled by pouring liquid plaster between them. After hardening, these panels were assembled on the walls of buildings. But the mosaic was not limited to flat areas. Tiles were used to cover both the interior and exterior surfaces of domes. Prominent Timurid examples of this technique include the Jame Mosque of Yazd (AD 1324-1365), Goharshad Mosque (AD 1418), the Madrassa of Khan in Shiraz (AD 1615), and the Molana Mosque (AD 1444)


Other important tile techniques of this time include girih tiles, with their characteristic white girih, or straps.

Mihrabs, being the focal points of mosques, were usually the places where most sophisticated Persian tiles was placed. The 14th-century mihrab at Madrasa Imami in Isfahan is an outstanding example of aesthetic union between the Islamic calligrapher’s art and abstract ornament. The pointed arch, framing the mihrab’s niche, bears an inscription in Kufic script used in 9th-century Qur’an.


One of the best known architectural masterpieces of Iran is the Shah Mosque in Isfahan, from the 17th century. Its dome is a prime example of tile mosaic and its winter praying hall houses one of the finest ensembles of cuerda seca tiles in the world. A wide variety of tiles had to be manufactured in order to cover complex forms of the hall with consistent mosaic patterns. The result was a technological triumph as well as a dazzling display of abstract ornament.


Silver is a precious metal discovered in about 600 BC. Apart from the historical precedence of Ghalamzani, most people do not know enough about this beautiful artistic endeavor. Ancient art in Persia has been a massive influence on the arts and culture of the region and it was during the Achaemenid Dynasty era that the first upsurge of Persian art occurred. Despite a lull in its popularity during the Parthian Era (c.250 BC), The Sassanaid Period saw an outstanding period of Persian Art.


Engraving Art

The splendid art of engraving is the creation of designs by carving chisels on various kinds of metals. It seems that the history of engraving has not been too far from the time when man discovered and used the metals. The ancient samples kept in “Iran-Bastan” and other museums in the world register the engraving art as 3000 years old.

Engraving (Ghalamzani) is the art of carving superb designs on various metals such as copper, brass, silver and gold. Isfahan is the main center for engraving. These artists crafted a range of gold and silver dishes stunningly decorated with animals and scenes of hunting. Sasanian luxury art were produced from precious and semi-precious stones, silks and glass vessels. In Iran and Mesopotamia finely, crafted silver vessels were produced in large amounts. These were renowned Sasanian silverware.


Engraving Procedure and Methods

The silver would be hammered into shape and the decorative designs would be produced by using varying techniques. The artist has to use chisel and hammer to carve out every detail and make various scenes of people dancing and playing musical instruments. Due to the trading that took place via sea and land routes connections were made and production of these silver vessels took place in and became established in Central Asia.

The artistic movement of the engraver’s hand and the harmonized blows of the hammer and engraving tool will be finally led to creating a unique job. However, the decorations and embellishments are going to be performed on material which has already been shaped with hammer and anvil by another skillful artist. Metalworking masters are those who work with different sorts of metal sheets shaping them in to beautiful dishes, vases, boxes, samovars, and etc. and preparing them to be engraved. Nowadays, due to the hard job and old getting of the masters, the preparation of the metal dishes is sometimes getting performed by machinery.


After completion of the drawing of pattern by the artist, the back side of the work is covered by a layer of tar, baked with some other materials, then the main lines of design are traced by carving chisels and henceforth it takes time, even months, for the artist to give life to the whole design which once was just an imagination to him.

The intricate process of creating each and every piece requires extensive skill, talent, and patience extended by the artists. Numerous tools and materials, such as chisels, hand-made instruments, hammers, etc. are utilized by the artisans to emboss and engrave the most detailed and complex of designs on the various types of metals. Different scenes from nature, animal and human shapes, flower and plant patterns, hunting grounds, etc., are some of the many aesthetic images hand-portrayed and carved on many kinds of Ghalam Zani pieces. Application of heat, Waxes, dyes, sanding and polishing materials are some of the other processes used in creating these masterpieces. The enchanting Ghalam Zani handicrafts are made in the shape of decorative trays, plates, vases, pitchers, etc.


Many silver pieces were also decorated with the scenes of the ancient Persian state religion, Zoroastrianism. Many of these scenes detailed the Seasons, which appeared on many pouring vessels suggesting that they had a link to ceremonial meanings within the Zoroastrianism religion. In Iran and Mesopotamia finely, crafted silver vessels were produced in large amounts. These were renowned Sasanian silverware.

Ghalamzani is a combination of art, technique and industry. Today, even people who did not know much about silverworks until recently are buying silver objects to decorate their homes.


Resuming this art is due to the diligent attempts of the Late Ostad Mohammad Oraizi and the Late Ostad Mohammad Taghi Zufan during the past eighty years, which has been led to creating tens of outstanding and distinguished metal engravings on the one hand and training the new generation on the other. Fortunately, the youth are taking more interest in this old art. Today, many youngsters work with old masters of Ghalamzani to learn the secrets of this craft.


Inlaid work

Persian Khatam is one of the Persian arts of marquetry wherein the surface of wooden or metallic articles is decorated with pieces of wood, bone and metal cut in a variety of shapes and designs. Materials used in this craft can be gold, silver, brass, aluminum and twisted wire. Various types of inlaid articles and their quality are known by the size and geometrical designs. Smaller pieces result in a higher value of the artwork.

This craft consists in the production of incrustation patterns (generally star-shaped), with thin sticks of wood (ebony, teak, ziziphus, orange, rose), brass (for golden parts), camel bones (white parts). Ivory, gold or silver can also be used for collection objects. These sticks are assembled in triangular beams, assembled and glued in a strict order to create a geometrical motif such as a six-branch star included in a hexagon.


History of Persian Khatam

There is no evidence to determine the exact date of Khatam-Kari. The oldest available samples of Persian Khatam art belong to Safavid period. Inlaid articles in the Safavid era took on a special significance, as artists used this art on doors, windows, mirror frames, Qur’an boxes, pen and penholders, lanterns and tombs.

Usage Things

The ornamentation of the doors of holy places predominantly consists of inlaid motifs. These specimens can be observed in the cities of Mashhad, Qom, Shiraz and Rey. The famous case placed in Imam Ali’s shrine is one of the masterpieces of Khatam art done by Shiraz masters and has been left from Safavid age. Another example of Persian Khatam is some parts of the Monabat Case of Sheikh Safi al-Din’s Shrine in Ardebil. In the Safavid era, the art of marquetry flourished in the southern cities of Iran, especially in Isfahan, Shiraz and Kerman.

Persian Khatam, which is one of the definitive masterpieces of this art, was awarded the first prize and a gold medal in an art exposition in Brussels. This desk is now preserved in the National Museum of Washington. Also, in some royal buildings, doors and various items have been inlaid. The inlaid-ornamented rooms in Sa’dabad and Marble Palace in Tehran are among masterpieces of this art.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, khatamkari declined, before being stimulated under the reign of Reza Shah, with the creation of art schools in Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz. Persian Khatam can be used on Persian miniature, realizing true work of art, this craft existed for more than 700 years and is still practiced in Shiraz and Isfahan.


Current Status

Currently, this art is being practiced in Isfahan, Shiraz and Tehran. Inlay masters, preserving the nobility of their art, have brought forth great innovations in this fine art.

Woodcarving is one of the outstanding Iranian arts, which require dexterity and artistic skills. It provides wood, ivory or bone in simple or complex shapes for use in khatamkari. Excellent specimens can be found in historical mosques, palaces and buildings. Some of the Iranian inlaid works are preserved in museums at home or abroad. Images of leaves, flowers, birds and animals predominate. Latticed woodwork, which developed later into an exquisite art, is also manually made by craftsmen. Old latticed doors and windows of Iran are famous.

Among other artworks, sudorific inlaid work can be mentioned. In this kind of inlaid work, the artist strictly avoids protrusions on the wood surface. The images carved on natural wood of various colors are finely inlaid. After the application of a fine finish, an even surface is produced. The art of inlaid and sudorific woodwork is supported by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization. These arts are also practiced in private workshops.


Khatam Kari Art Works

Bagher Hakim-Elahi was a master of this art and learned the techniques from Master Sanee Persian Khatam in Shiraz. Later in life, he moved to Tehran, and continued making Khatam master pieces, currently in museums in Iran. He also taught the art to his younger brother Asadolah Hakim-Elahi.

At Maison Termeh, we value ancient artistry and we hope to support and hopefully preserve this heritage for our future generations.

Persian Pottery: A Masterpiece of Pottery Art

“The taste and talent of this people can be seen through the designs of their earthen wares”, R. Ghirshman

The history of the art of pottery in Iran goes back into ancient time. When agriculture came into existence and cultivation started on Iran’s plateau by primitive races of this land, people made utensils of baked clay in order to meet their needs.


Earthenware is actually one of the oldest handicrafts in the world. Among the most famous old pottery, pitchers and bowls can be named. Before glass manufacturing became widespread, most dishes used by humans were pottery. The best-performing soil for pottery is clay, which because of the large amounts of iron is red.


Iran can be called the birthplace of designed earthenware utensils. Designing earthenware in Iran started about 4,000 BC. In Iran pottery manufacture has a long and brilliant history. Due to the special geographical position of the country, being at the crossroads of ancient civilizations and on important caravan routes, almost every part of Iran was, at times, involved in pottery making. Yet, recent excavations and archaeological research revealed that there were four major pottery-manufacturing areas in the Iranian plateau. These included the western part of the country, namely the area west of the Zagros mountains (Lurestan), and the area south of the Caspian Sea (Gilan and Mazandaran provinces). These two areas are chronologically as far as is known today, the earliest.


The third region is located in the northwestern part of the country, in Azarbaijan province. The fourth area is in the southeast, i.e. the Kerman region and Baluchestan. To these four regions one may also add the Kavir area, where the history of pottery making can be dated back to the 8th millennium BCE.

Currently, pottery art is popular in traditional and industrial ways in Iran, and its main centers are Laljin, Hamedan; Meybod, Yazd; Kalporagan, Sistan and Baluchestan; Shahvar, Minab; Mend, Gonabad; Zonoz, Tabriz; Kharmohre, Qom; Mazandaran; Gamaj, Gilan, Semnan; Saveh, Markazi; and Shahreza, Isfahan.


Laljin, Center of Persian Pottery

Laljin is known as the Middle East pottery and ceramic center. 80 percent of the population of the city of Laljin is engaged in pottery and ceramic works. This city is one of the major centers of pottery and ceramics in Iran and the world. The products of the hard-working artists of this region, in addition to nearby cities of Iran, are exported to many other countries. Laljin’s pottery is very diverse and includes a variety of decorative and consumable dishes.


Although pottery is a very old industry, but with time and expanding urban life, this art has not only disappeared but also evolved and adapted itself to the needs of today’s life. Over time, humans have drawn more beautiful styles with different colors on these dishes, and its beauty has doubled.

Most of the pottery in this area is marketed without a single-glazed stone. The products of this area are very diverse and in terms of soil and glaze, are relatively better than other parts of Iran. The colors of the glazes made in Hamedan are often Azure, Blue, Navy blue, Salmon, Yellow, Green, Turquoise and Brown.


Embossed role tableau and small sculptures are among the most popular gifts in today’s world. One of the most beautiful-seeming of these days is the great pottery signs at Tehran metro stations. Mahdi Abbasi Nezhad, the pottery maker in our country, has built many of these precious pottery pieces, which we see below is an example of his art.


A Persian miniature is a richly detailed miniature painting which depicts religious or mythological themes from the region of the Middle East now known as Iran. The art of miniature painting in Persia flourished from the 13th through the 16th centuries, and continues to this day, with several contemporary artists producing notable Persian miniatures. These delicate, lush paintings are typically visually stunning, with a level of detail which can only be achieved with a very fine hand and an extremely small brush.


Originally, Persian miniatures were commissioned as book illustrations for Persian illuminated manuscripts. Only the wealthiest of patrons could afford these illustrations, with some Persian miniatures taking up to a year to complete. Eventually, people also began collecting these works of art on their own, binding them into separate books. Many of these collections fortunately survive to this day, along with other examples of Persian art such as Iran’s famous pile carpets. 


The Persian miniature was probably inspired by Chinese art, given the very Chinese themes which appear in some early examples of Persian miniatures. Many of the mythological creatures depicted in early Persian art, for example, bear a striking resemblance to animals in Chinese myth. Over time, however, Persian artists developed their own style and themes, and the concept of the Persian miniature was picked up by neighboring regions.


Content and form are fundamental elements of Persian miniature painting, and miniature artists are renowned for their modest, subtle use of color. The themes of Persian miniature are mostly related to Persian mythology and poetry. Western artists discovered the Persian miniature around the beginning of the 20th century. Persian miniatures use pure geometry and a vivid palette. The allure of Persian miniature painting lies in its absorbing complexities and in the surprising way it speaks to large questions about the nature of art and the perception of its masterpieces.


The history of the art of painting in Iran, goes back to the cave age. In the caves of Lorestan province, painted images of animals and hunting scenes have been discovered. Paintings discovered by W. Semner, on the walls of buildings, in Mallyan heights, in Fars, belong to 5,000 years ago.

Paintings discovered on earthenware in Lorestan, and other archaeological sites, prove that the artists of this region were familiar with the art of painting. Also, from the Ashkanid era, few mural paintings, most of them discovered in the northern parts of Forat River, have been uncovered. One of these paintings is a display of a hunting scene. The position of riders and animals, and the style in this work reminds us of the Iranian miniatures.


Mogul emperors, after the invasion of Iran, were impressed by the Iranian art and encouraged the painters, initiating the former kings of Iran. Among the characteristics of the Iranian art which can also be observed in the paintings of Mogul style, we can enumerate, subtleties, decorative compositions, and fine short lines. The style of the Iranian paintings is linear and not dimensional. Artists in this field have demonstrated a particular creativity and genuineness.


Artists of the Mogul royal court honored not only the techniques but also Iranian themes. A part of their work consisted of illustrating Iranian literary masterpieces such as “The Shahnameh” of Ferdowsi.

Agha Reza Reza-e Abbasi  (1565 – 1635) was the most renowned Persian miniaturist, painter and calligrapher of the Isfahan School, which flourished during the Safavid period under the patronage of Shah Abbas I. Art experts believe that during Teimoor’s era, the art of painting in Iran, had reached a climax. During this period, outstanding masters, such as Kamal-ul-Din Behzad, contributed a new touch to the Iranian painting.


Behzad, this great artist belongs not only to Iran but also to the world. The French newspapers published many articles in praise of this Iranian artist. The miniature of Iran, in the Isfahan of Safavid era, was detached from the influence of the Chinese out and stepped on a new road. The painters were then more inclined towards naturalism.

Mahmoud Farshchian (born January 24, 1930) is a world-renowned master of Persian painting and miniatures. He was born in the city of Isfahan in Iran, a place famed for its art and artists, and it was here where he started to learn art, painting and sculpting.


“The Museum of Master Mahmoud Farshchian”, is a museum devoted to the works of the master, which has been set up by the Cultural Heritage Foundation in the Sa’dabad Cultural Complex in Tehran, inaugurated in 2001.

Inlaid turquoise is a kind of handicraft made by implanting small pieces of turquoise stone in mosaic fashion on the surface of the dishes, ornaments and decorative objects with copper, brass, silver or bronze bases.

Turquoise is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gemstone and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. In recent times, turquoise has been devalued, like most other opaque gems, by the introduction onto the market of treatments, imitations and synthetics. Turquoise Koobi is one of the newest arts that the use of turquoise and the art of picking these precious stones and polishing them is called turquoise.

Inlaid turquoise is one of the most beautiful Iranian artworks with a history of at least half a century. Iranian artists use turquoise in various forms of art including calligraphy and handicrafts. In Europe it is called turquoise. And it means Turkish stone, because the Iranian turquoise through Turkey was arrived to Europe. This ornamental stone is used in Italy as one of the most precious stones in jewelry.


The History of Inlaid Turquoise

The art of Firoozeh-koobi is putting small pieces of Turquoise stone on the surface of dishes and decorative objects. A royal beauty of the objects will be created after final polishing of turquoise stones. Firoozeh-koobi or Turquoise fixing consists of jewelries and containers made of metals such as copper, brass, silver, or bronze on which small pieces of turquoise stones are placed side by side with special glue. Firoozeh-koobi is a relatively young handicraft, and the history of it goes back to around 70 years ago. This kind of handicraft is produced in Isfahan.

According to experts, high quality turquoise is characterized by a dark blue color and less impurity streaks that are known as turquoise Ajami. To turquoise without streaks around the world is called Persian Grade, no matter where they are extracted. Various types of turquoise are available in different streaks that vary in color from green to dark blue, but the turquoise of Neyshabur with dark blue color is a criterion for valuation of turquoise all over the world and Neyshabur mine is the biggest turquoise mine in the world

Inlaid Turquoise Stages

This art is one of the newest arts that the use of turquoise and the art of picking these precious stones and polishing them is called turquoise. There are several important features in this art to create the best and most beautiful artwork, this art is not generally handicrafts of a particular city, but now Isfahan city is considered to be the activists of this art.

The pieces must be placed in a way so that no space is left between them as far as possible. In order to fill the possible gaps between Persian Turquoise pieces, temperature is added (to about 40o C) and some more shellac powder is sprinkled onto the pieces until the shellac layer is softened to a melting form, and then try to fill all the spaces by adding smaller Persian Turquoise pieces, or, as they say, the pieces sit well on the surface. This is usually done by pressing Persian Turquoise pieces by hand onto the surface so that they stick fast to it. After the object is cooled, the shellac covered parts become rigid. After that stage, the parts covered by shellac and Persian Turquoise pieces are polished with emery so the extra shellac and little raised parts of the pieces are flattened.

Examples of natural turquoise rock in this mine have been exhibited in geological and mineral museum of the world such as London Geological Museum and in Iran’s Tehran and Mashhad Geological Museum.

Persian Calligraphy; One of the most revered arts throughout history of Iran

The art of calligraphy is one of the reputable and famous arts in Iran. The glorious art of calligraphy and its numerous decorations have always been praised by Iranologs.

The importance of the art of calligraphy among Iranian arts is such that some arts seem to be imperfect, without decorative calligraphy. Iranians more than any other nation have used various calligraphy to enrich and beautify earthen-ware, metallic vessels and historic buildings.

Calligraphy has been considered among the artistic symbols, letters and elements, which form the word, always bear undeniable esthetic qualities. Iranian Calligraphic Styles, such as Taliq, Nastaliq, Naskh, Thulth, Reqa, Towqi, Shekasteh, Kufic and decorative scripts, stands proud as charming among those of every other nation; particularly so, when those are adorned with illumination, which bestows hundred-fold prominence to their sublime forms.


Most of the handwritten books of Iran specially the Holy Quran, and collections of poems such as Shahnameh, Hafez, Golestan, Boostan and Khayam have been recognized as precious artistic works because of their graceful and delicate calligraphy.

Indeed, Iranian calligraphy truly deserves such illuminations, and such a reverence; its masterpieces, when framed and set upon walls, bear all the attraction of great paintings, affecting even foreigners. Thus, many of them are now lovingly collecting items of Persian Calligraphy.

These books possess extraordinary value and importance for the art experts all around the world. The art of calligraphy in Iran has a long history. This history includes the opposition of writing in Iran and its process of evolution from the ancient times till the Islamic period and from this period till the present time.


History of Persian Calligraphy

Evolution of various styles of penmanship, esthetic changes and developments of Persian calligraphy, assess essential esthetic variations, evaluate the degrees of evolution attained and discover the brilliant agility of Iranian Artist’s mind within the context of history, show that, although certain decays be more or less conspicuous in the course of history of calligraphy, this very beauty has kept it from annihilation.

Mind of the average Iranian spectator is basically familiar with calligraphy, so that, even though he (she) may not be a calligrapher Himself (herself), nevertheless has a close recollection of tradition of penmanship. This “recollection”, which bears extensive influence from the works of the immediately preceding generation, generally corresponds with the latest basics evolved by the present one, and thus has a relatively clear-cut opinion about calligraphic esthetics. Therefore, it is not so strange that this “recollection” may not deem a panel penned by Mir Ali Heravi (16th century A.D.).


Obviously, such a judgment is an unjust one; rather, to be fair, one should recognize and evaluate highs and lows of calligraphic styles by the criteria prevalent in their own time.

In the Islamic period, Iranian artists put to work in various ways the Arabic alphabet to adorn mosques and holy constructions, wooden doors, earthenware and metallic vessels. The art of calligraphy flourished even more when the Holy Quran, Shahnameh, and other books were written and reached the highest degree of perfection during the next centuries.

During the Safavid era, virtuous Iranian calligraphers, invented all diverse forms of the Persian writing. Thousands of tablets, books and attractive handwritten pieces are available among the artistic works of calligraphy in Iran.

Iranians acquired great success in the art of binding books in various ways. The leather cover of these books was enriched in the most gracious manner by geometrical and floral patterns and various landscapes.

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The art of illumination has had a great role in decorating these leather covers. Some of the most valuable handwritten books of Iran, with leather bindings are being kept in the “Metropolitan” museum, the “National Library of Paris”, the “Library of Munich” and some private collections. The calligraphy in these books is mostly accomplished by the great masters of this art.

Writing is considered a tool for the comprehension of the contexts all over the world, but in Iran writing has made its way of becoming an estimable art.

Although art experts around the world are not much informed about the contents of the Persian handwriting, they tend to use Persian calligraphy work to adorn their libraries and private collections. The expertise brought forth in Persian calligraphy expresses the most gracious artistic notions.

Calligraphy has been considered among the artistic symbols, letters and elements, which form the word, always bear undeniable esthetic qualities. Iranian Calligraphic Styles, such as Taliq, Nastaliq, Naskh, Thulth, Reqa, Towqi, Shekasteh, Kufic and decorative scripts, stands proud as charming among those of every other nation; particularly so, when those are adorned with illumination, which bestows hundred-fold prominence to their sublime forms.


Nastaʿlīq Script

“Nas’taliq” is the most popular contemporary style among classical Persian calligraphy scripts. It is known as “Bride of the Calligraphy Scripts”. As a matter of fact, this calligraphy style has been based on such a strong structure that it has changed very little since that time. It is as if “Mir Ali Tabrizi” has found the optimum composition of the letters and graphical rules so it has just been fine-tuned during the passed seven centuries.

Nas’taliq is the most beautiful Persian Calligraphy style and also technically the most complicated. It has strict rules for graphical shape of the letters and for combination of the letters, words, and composition of the whole calligraphy piece as a whole. Even the second popular Persian calligraphy style i.e. “Cursive Nas’taliq” or “Shekasteh Nas’taliq” noticeably follows the same rules as Nas’taliq, with more flexibility of course.


It is really important to note that unlike its ancestors, Nas’taliq follows natural curves. In other words, unlike Arabic scripts that follow logical/geometrical designs, Nas’taliq follows the nature and natural curves. There are a lot of resemblances found between the curves used in Nas’taliq and natural curves and a few examples are shown here. It is interesting that it may not be the preliminary intention of Mir-Ali or the others to write the letters in such a form that they look like natural curves; but rather later these similarities have been found. Therefore, it shows that it is because of the initial spirit of Nas’taliq and its tendency toward nature that it looks so intimate and beautiful.