Rumi's Garden humbly presents marquetry woodwork boxes that are made in Syria.
The craft of inlaying goes back thousands of years. Many museums around the world display inlaid objects of Assyrian and ancient Egyptian origin – some over 3000 years old. When the Muslims in the 7th century established Damascus as the capital of their empire, the Umayyad rulers encouraged the art of mosaics. Under their sponsorship in the early 8th century, the city’s Umayyad Mosque became the first structure in the Islamic world where the art of inlaying was practised on a large scale. From this first experience in inlaying, when mostly Byzantine artisans were employed, the art of mosaics developed in Damascus and became an honoured profession.
After the Ottomans occupied Damascus, the Arabs lost political power, concentrating thereafter on industry and the crafts. Among these vocations were all types of inlaying in metal and wood – trades for which the city remains famous.
The art of inlaying reached Europe through Moorish Spain and Sicily. The technique became known as intarsia – a name believed to have been derived from the Arabic tarsi’ (the act of inlaying, from the verb rassa’a – to inlay). Others derive the word from the Latin interserere (to insert). On the other hand, marquetry (a mosaic of veneers), another name used for wood inlaying, comes from the French marquetor (to mark).
Intarsia or inlays of contrasting patterns, still practised extensively in Damascus, are designs set into all types of wood. Forms are sunk into the wood according to a prearranged design. In the past, the hollows were then filled with pieces of different wood like ebony, lemon, oak, walnut or bone, and mother of pearl.
Item Number: 457
Country of Origin: Syria