Academic thesis

Marie-Christine Steiner: A decorated casket with Khatamkari, Iran 19th century (Ethnographic Museum Vienna): Analysis, conception and pilot work Back
Language: Original   -   Translation
Abstract: This diploma thesis concerns the conservation and restauration of an Iranian dowry casket from the second half of the 19th century. The Iranian casket is decorated with “khatamkari“, a micro mosaic, and today is part of the collection of the World Museum Vienna, formerly known as the Museum of Ethnography. The rectangular box with a flap-lid and a drop front shows numerous damages in the form of loose and missing elements in the khatam-mosaic area. These damages are to be ascribed to various causes. Furthermore a former, inappropriate repair of the lid has led to a strong visual disruption, spoiling the visually lid‘s structure and appearance of the lid´s interior. The materials used for the mosaic were strongly affected and could not be identified clearly due to surface soiling mainly in the outer lid area.
This thesis describes the khatam-mosaic production process, the materials are examined and the suggested conservation and restauration techniques are demonstrated in a sample area. The following materials were identified: the micro mosaic consists of timber, bone, brass and animal glue, the latter of which is used to join the elements on a paper support. Two coatings could be observed on the mosaic, presumably shellac and an oleo-resinous varnish. The coloured paint on the casket‘s interior consists of orpiment and red lead pigment bound with gums. All loose elements and delaminating parts of the mosaic were secured in the sample area. The visual appearance of the casket was improved by aqueous cleaning of the surface and by removing the excess animal glue from a previous repair with agar gel pads. A time-efficient and economical method was found to fill the losses in the micro mosaic by using a photographic reproduction of the missing khatam pattern.


Keywords: Iran, casket, khatamkari, micro mosaic, photographic reproduction
  • academic institution:  Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien
  • kind of theses:  Diplomarbeit
  • main Tutor:  Univ. Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Mag. Wolfgang Baatz
  • assistant Tutor:  Nanke Schellmann, PhD, MA
  • date:  2014
  • Language:  German
  • pages:  213
  • pictures:  263

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