Master craftsman demonstrates ancient Persian enameling technique
The minakari creations on display at the Iranian pavilion at the Amerat Park are grabbing eyeballs. The glorious handicraft is a technique of painting the surface of metals by glazing colours and fire in a furnace.
Isfahan born Hossein Peikam is keen to share the techniques he has acquired from 30 years of experience with festivalgoers. The intricate floral designs he paints on copper vessels are mere microns. Clusters of delicate brush strokes which seem to be done with no rhyme or reason form geometrical shapes when put together.
To show the quality of the enamel on his finished pieces which range in price from a couple of rials to RO7,000, Peikam energetically runs a metal nail along the surface of his works, proving they are highly scratchresistant.
“I was born in 1968 and trained under Ahmad Peikam and Morteza Esmaeily. I am proud to have had the opportunity to carry on minakari tradition which is one of the oldest and most beautiful crafts of Persia.”
An enthusiastic Peikam explains the process. “In order to prepare an enamel work, select copper receptacles are covered in kaolinite [clay mineral] and baked three times. After each glazing, the pieces are put in a kiln. This creates a smooth white surface to paint on. After the painting is finalised, the piece is put in the kiln one final time at no less than 600°C. Isfahan is considered to be the most important centre for the production of high quality enamel in the world,” he said.
While the technique of enamel-on-metal has been adopted by other countries, Iranian minakari almost always heavily features the azure shade of blue. Mina, the feminine of minoo in Persian language and tradition, refers to the azure shade of heaven.