Iranian handicrafts: Toreutics

June 27, 2022 - 20:30

TEHRAN – Toreutics is considered to be a form of handicrafts and artistic metalworking in Iran. In spite of the lack of a clear history concerning its background, some archaeologists and art historians believe it dates back to the pre-Achaemenid era when there were nomadic Iranians known as the Scythians or Sakas.

There is evidence of the art's origin in carving on mountains and building stones of royal palaces and historical monuments as well as even in the era of cavemen; then, it developed into engraving, and, finally, toreutics.

In other words, toreutics is the practice of decorating metal objects with beautiful and exquisite engravings and pictures by hammering or engraving them with burins.

The softness and flexibility of copper make it the most popular of the metals used in this type of artistic metalworking. Artists have been drawn to toreutics or engraving on metals with burins due to the material's long lifespan and consistency compared to other objects.

To reduce the sounds of hammers or burins and to reduce the risk of coin penetrations, contemporary artists or craftsmen in this field coat the inner or below part of the metal dish or tray with tar and plaster solution. They then draw the pattern on the dish and choose the appropriate burin and hammer the end of the burin to form the grooves and patterns on the dish with differing intensities of hammer strikes.

Toreutic patterns have always been influenced by ideological and cultural changes throughout the various historical and cultural periods, and have had their own unique historical evolutions based on social conditions. There are several styles of toreutics, including relief, mid-relief, engraving, and latticework.

Another perspective has it that Iranian toreutics have two main styles: the Isfahan Style and the Tabriz Style. The Tabriz Style uses motion and pressure of the wrist for engraving, while the Isfahan Style uses hammering. Tabriz burins are flat and shallow, while Isfahan burins are deeper.


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