Toreutics and etching (Qalamzani) are among the Iranian handicrafts with a historical background as ancient as 3000 years. Qalamzani means transferring the images onto a metallic surface by means of shaping indents and convexes on the surface; a skill performed with the use of certain tools. in the remote past, etching was first done in form of engraving and carving onto the mountains and rocks and later for decorating the buildings of significance such as the kings' palaces and then, finally, it transformed into the handicraft art known today. Isfahan is considered as the birthplace of this art but Qalamzani is quite popular and prosperous in other areas of the country such as in Shiraz and Boroujerd. It is done on certain metallic materials such as copper, silver, and nickel silver.
The Various Stages
First, the dish or item is chosen. Then, it is filled with tar. The tar used specifically for this purpose is combined with chalk or soil with a proportion that varies from season to season. If the dish in question is flattened out like a plate, the tar is glued to its backside. After tar-layering, the craftsman sketches out the pattern of the work on the dish with the use of a pencil. After that, the pattern is engraved onto the dish with a pen specially designed for this purpose called nim-bar or half-axel. The remaining outline, however, is then etched on the dish with a variety of other pens that can range well over 120.
How to Buy a Good Qalamzani Item
A rich variety of Qalamzani items like plate, vase, large copper or bronze trays and various other kinds of dishes exist. The more Qalamzani objects carries patterns and images, the more aesthetically and artistically valuable it is. Do not clean Qalamzani dishes and items with chemicals. Also, do not use steel wool to burnish them. Since Isfahan is rightfully considered as the birthplace of Qalamzani art in Iran, while you are making a trip to this city, you can purchase some of the finest samples of Qalamzani art and take it home as souvenir or remembrance. However, in other cities like Shiraz, Tabriz, and Boroujerd, too, you can buy fine Qalamzani works. In Tehran, nevertheless, Nejat'allhi or Villa St. is the center of all types of handicrafts, all exemplar as Iranian traditional art, including Qalamzani, can be found and bought. In order to get a sense of the price of the etched works, consider that a tableau of 40 in 50 centimeters will have a value and be bought at the price of 1000000 Tomans.