(lit. "making knot”), a form of geometric interlaced strapwork ornament that is commonly found in architecture and the minor arts throughout the Islamic world. In Persian Islamic architecture gereh-sazi designs exist in a variety of media, particularly cut brickwork (bannai), stucco, and cut tilework (mosaic faïence).
GEREH-SAZI (lit: making gereh ”knot”), term used to refer to various geometric designs in woodworking and architectural decoration.
Gereh-sazI refers to two related techniques of woodworking: either a lattice frame, which could be left plain or filled with wooden insets, colored glass, or other materials and was used for balustrades and window screens; or a mosaic panel, composed of hexagons, stars, and other geometric shapes and used to decorate the sides of menbars and ceilings in mosques, palaces, and private houses.
Both techniques must have been common at least from the 14th century, but due to the ravages of time, insects, and fire few early pieces have survived. One of the earliest examples of a wooden lattice to survive is the balustrade guarding the stairs and platform of the jujube menbar made by Maamudshah b. Moa¸Yammad Naqqash KermanI and donated to the Friday Mosque at NaÊ¾In in Rajab 711/October-November 1311 (Smith, figs. 1, 3, 4, 6). One of the earliest examples of the star-and-polygon technique is the side panels on a menbar dated 771/1369 and transferred in 1935 from the Friday Mosque in SurIan in Fars to the Iran Bastan Museum (Moafawi, p. 8; Golmohammadi, p. 78). The Timurid menbar in the Gowhar-SHad Mosque (q.v.) in the sanctuary of Imam ReÅ¼a at Mashhad (see Diez, fig. 8) displays both techniques, an open lattice for the balustrade and mosaic panels for the sides.
These woodworking techniques were very popular in the Safavid period, and many fine examples survive in Safavid buildings at Isfahan, especially the Hasht Behesht and ÄŒehel Sotun palaces (qq.v.). For windows, the lattices were usually filled with clear or colored glass and served simultaneously as barrier and connector between interior and exterior. Rectangular grilles were surmounted by a pointed arch, and large grilles were made up of three or more moveable panels. Over time the mesh was closed up, the pieces became thinner, and denser and more complex compositions with stars and polygons were created (illustrations in Orazi). Ceilings had elaborate mosaic compositions of stars and polygons, often highlighted with paint and gilding (see, for example, the ceiling over the porch in the Chehel Sotun; Survey of Persia Art VIII, pls. 473-74; (PLATE I). During the Qajar period, curvilinear and floral patterns became popular, and mirrored glass was added to heighthen the decorative effect.
Bibliography: E. Diez, ”Miarab,” in EI1 III, pp. 485-90. J. Golmohammadi, ”Minbar 2,” in EI2 VII, pp. 76-79. M. MoafawI, Eqlim-e Pars, Tehran, 1343 SH./1964. R. Orazi, Wooden Gratings in Safavid Architecture, Rome, 1976. M. B. Smith, ”The Wood Minbar in the Masdjid-i Djame, NaÊ¾In,” Ars Islamica 5, 1938, pp. 21-35. H. Wulff, The Traditional Crafts of Persia, Cambridge, Mass., 1966, pp. 87, 98.
To be continued ...
Art of Esfahan: Silver Work
Kermanshah’s Handicrafts: Giveh & Kelash
Handicrafts of the Yazd Province