Shiraz Engraving (Qalam-Zani) follows Scythians, Achaemenid and Sassanian art Style.



The use of copper dates back to 9500 B.C, according to the discovered archaeological proofs and evidences and it has been used purely up to the fifth millennium B.C (the discovery of copper melting age) and cold working has been used to shape it.

Nowadays, according to the undeniable archaeological proofs discovered in different parts of Iran, it has been certified that the South and Central areas of Iran are among the oldest centers of Metalworking in the world and Iranian metalworkers are one of the pioneers of the discovery of copper melting in the ancient world.

Considering scientific researches, the historical background of Qalam-Zani art dates back to Scythans who lived in Caucasia about five to seven thousands years ago. Many Caucasian artistic works on gold, silver and brass objects have been discovered.

In the first millennium B.C, metalworking and engraving were flourished and valued. Some important relics of that age have been discovered such as Golden Marlik Cups.

Qalam-Zani art in Achaemenian period:

In this era (330-550 B.C) Qalam-Zani art evolved and became valuable, so that, influenced over next periods. Achaemenian period has been golden age of metalworking in some specific branches of this art for instance: moulding, hammering, inlaying with gems and so on.

Qalam-Zani art in Seleucidian period:

In this period, new towns such as Merv and Nesa were founded and art workshops were transferred to these new towns. Qalam-Zani art was last, influenced by Helenistic art (Greek art).

Qalam-Zani art in Parthians(Ashkanian) period:

Parthians received power in 250 to 224 B.C. In this period, according to the Achaemenian artistic styles, Qalam-Zani art was last undergoing some changes. Sculpturing was flourished by the use of golds, silver and brass and moulding styles. Inlaid jewellery using precious stones were made according to the Achaemenian artistic styles.

Qalam-Zani art in Sassanian period:

A nice collection of golden objects and silverware of Sassanina period engraved by Iranian craftsmen depicting Sassanian kings at party and combat designs held in Hermitage Museum in Leningerad city of Russia certifies the prevalence of Qalam-Zani art in this period. One of the characteristics of Qalam-Zani art in Sassanian period has been the reliefs on the gold and silver showing winged animals with lion and dragon heads, the different kind of flowers, various birds, dancers’ faces while dancing and holding musical instruments, musicians, party and combat scenes and hunting grounds.

Needed Tools and Materials:

Needed materials for creating cuprous and brass works include: copper, brass and some allays of these two metals. The tools of the work are classified in two groups as follows:

First group: The tools which are used for shaping the original materials such as bending machine, electrical oven, anvil and hammer.

Second group: the tools which are used for engraving for instance: Tar-melting machine, caliper, different steel engraving chisels, hammer and so on.


First, the inner or outer part of the considered golden, cuprous or brass wares is bituminized or plastered to decrease the noise of hammering and also to prevent from puncturing of the metal during the process of engraving. Then , the considered design painted on the skin paper is copied on the considered object .In the next stage a suitable engraving chisel is chosen and its tip is placed on the surface of the object, then , the engraving chisel is hammered by the engraver to create the design on the surface of the considered object. The engraving chisels are different and have their own special names.

After creating the desired design on the considered metallic surface, the decorated object is heated to detach the tar from the inner or outer part of it. After detaching the tar, the created grooves on the object must be filled with charcoal powder. Then, the surface of the object is coated by black varnish and as a result, the engraved designs will be seen as distinguishable black lines. The used designs by engravers are mostly subjective and seldom old designs or Iranian Miniatures are used. Some workshops solely produce cuprous and brass objects. On the contrary, other workshops focus on engraving on the surface of the considered objects. The last group of the workshops carry out both producing and engraving processes.

Shiraz Engraving (Qalam-Zani) follows Scythians, Achaemenid and Sassanian art Style,Expert of Fars Handicraft Department said.

Mohammad Kazem Bahadoripour

Public relations manager of Fars Cultural Heritage Handicraft & Tourism Organization