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The technique performed by pressing, embedding various materials such as stone, metal, glass, mother-of-pearl, bone and wood into grooves opened on a flat surface to create the decoration is inlay (embedding) technique.


The earliest examples of the inlay technique within wood workmanship date back to the XVI Century. In the XIV and XV Centuries, wood inlay was applied over bone and wood. In Ottoman arts, on the other hand, inlays were created with such materials as mother-of-pearl, ivory and bone. In the XIV and XV Centuries, inlays were applied to the inside of badges and crescents, while from the 16th Century onwards, objects are observed to be created wholly in inlay workmanship.


Mother-of-Pearl Inlay


Mother-of-Pearl inlay is defined as a decorative art form applied by embedding such decorative materials as mother-of-pearl and bone into massive or coated surfaces. People performing this art form is known as ‘Sedefkar’.


Mother-of-Pearl inlay is the process of inlaying wires around motifs drawn on the surface of the object designated for decoration, opening grooves in the same shape as the remaining sections and gluing mother-of-pearl pieces of the same shape into these grooves.


The process of attaching tangent mother-of-pearl pieces in mosaic shape onto a composition drawn on the object’s surface without opening any grooves on wood is known as ‘pasting’ (sıvama).


Mother-of-pearl used in the inlay technique is divided into two types, namely plain white and ‘arusek’ that changes colour per lightning.


The first examples of mother-of-pearl workmanship in the Ottoman period are seen in the late XV Century. Seen on the door wings of the single-domed Bayezid II Complex in Edirne, mother-of-pearl workmanship is known to reach its prime in the XVI Century. In this period, mother-of-pearl workmanship was observed on such furniture as doors, windows, cupboard doors, stands, drawers, Quran containers, rahle, tables, seats and couches and on wooden objects such as gun grips, clogs, bellows, tobacco cases and coffee sets.


Today, rich examples can be found in Gaziantep, Antakya, Kilis and İskenderun. 




S.Türkoğlu, Maden Sanatı ve Kuyumculuk, Kültür Bakanlığı, İstanbul 1993
Örçün Barışta, Türk Sanatında Sedef Kakmacılık ve Günümüzdeki Durumu, DEÜ GSF yayınları, İzmir 1985
Rahmi Aras, Ağaç Kakmacılığı, 4. Ulusal El Sanatları Semp.,DEÜ GSF yayınları, İzmir 1985
Can Kerametli,
Osmanlı Devri Ağaç İşleri, Tahta Oyma, Sedef, Bağ ve Fildişi Kakmalar, Türk Etnografya Dergisi, S.4, Ankara1962

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