In Persian word, marquetry is called “Mo’aragh” which literally means “an object with trace of veins”. But in terms of handicrafts, Mo’aragh is a form of art where colorful pieces of wood are delicately cut and arranged next to each other on a wooden or polyester background.
To make marquetry, pieces of various kinds of wood, about seventy to eighty species, with different colors and in some cases camel bone, seashells, copper, brass, silver, gold and ivory are incorporated which add to the beauty of the final product. It was believed that marquetry was practiced from 90 years ago in Iran, however, a wooden comb was discovered recently in “Shahr-e Sukhteh” that proved tis craft dates back to four thousand years ago. The comb had pieces of different kinds of wood that were cut and attached to the handle by the use of tree gum.
One example of marquetry is a stand for holy Quran that is kept in Metropolitan Art Museum. It belongs to 15th century and consists of carved wood, lattice and inlay. Inlay is a technic that were used in early days of this marquetry. To make inlay, parts of the background are cut out based on the design and by using tools such as chisel. Then the cut areas receive sections of another material such as wood, ivory, bone or seashells. During Safavid dynasty inlays were also applied on the doors, boxes and some other crafts with more elaborate designs. In this era, another kind of marquetry were also common in which pieces of wood, bone and layers of “Khatam” (an ancient Persian technique of inlaying) were attached to each other.
The art of marquetry has undergone many changes in time. In its early day, it was created based on arabesque designs and only by five limited colors of ebony, areca, pear, silverberry and morus wood. Marquetry was mostly used to decorate the top of tables, cabinets, doors, back of the chairs, mirror frames and chess boards. Whereas today in addition to making applicable objects, this beautiful craft is used to create elegant tableaus. Marquetry products were limited by color until 1950s, but due to advances of knowledge of woods, new kinds of wood were incorporated to make the pieces. Nowadays marquetry is practiced in province of Western Azerbaijan and many other cities.