Plant patterns for illumination

  • Plant patterns for illumination

Khatayi pattern symbolism

    “Khatayi” or rosette pattern is a concept of the movement of a pedicle, a branch or a bush with some flower buds.  A stylized pattern which isn’t exactly similar to the reality of nature and has distanced away from the real concept through the creative mind of artist.

   The appellation of Khatayi is not completely revealed and there are still some disagreements among western and eastern artists and virtuosos. They don’t even agree on the dictation of Khatayi in Persian.

In Persian literature Khatayi is a synonym for Khotan and means related to Khata, northern China. As a result, it is possible to consider Khatayi as antonym of Islamic art, although they have found many signs of Islamic art before Islam.

    In addition, the effect of Chinese art in Khatayi pattern is undeniable because based on some clues, Khatayi pattern had entered Iran with Mongolian art from China. This is why many think Khatayi is equivalent to Khata, which means mistake in Persian.

   Through the history, the evolution of Khatayi pattern is clear. One of the very first Khatayi patterns found in Kashan, is a ceramic bowl from about 700 years ago and apparently, it is one of the oldest works of Khatayi. Many parts of the bowl are designed with kamels, but the most important things on the surface, are the squiggles and limaceous lines spread over the space of the bowl.

A Ceramic bowl discovered in Kashan, full of Khatayi patterns

  The other ones, are two metal pots from Sassanian era that signs of Khatayi such as tree branches are plain to see in the details; also it is quite evident that Islamic has affected it.

  One of the pots is an argentine fishbowl with picture of a nude woman holding a flower. In the picture above there are some circulations that have leaves at the end, just like tree branches. From an abstract view, those are what we call signs of Khatayi today.

An argentine gold-plated fishbowl, Mazandaran, Sassanian era

   The other one is a metal cup which has a bird in the center, surrounded with trees, bards and people playing music. At the end of each branch, there are grapes and leaves, which makes them clearly similar to Khatayi signs.

An argentine cup with the pattern of birds and musicians, Sassanian era

By studying many other artworks, we mostly find simple and spiral Khatayi lines, decorated with flowers. The appearance of these flowers indicates that the painters were more likely to paint them in round and circular shapes and slowly, the flowers and leaves become longer and longer while the upper parts, recalls us of primary leaves.

     Round and circular flowers in different shapes are considered as the main signs of Khatayi. Another example of these shapes is the molding done to decorate a vault of Kish palace, in Sassanian era. This vault is decorated with several lines combined with circles, creating shapes known as “carrousel of sun”, which is symbolic in many nations, including ancient Iran.

   The surface of each circle is divided by 4, with the same leaf in every part covering the center. There are also some radiuses around them that emphasize the round shape. In this painting, tetramerous flowers are decorated with leaves.

Interior decoration of a vault in Kish palace #1, molding, Sassanian era

Coverage of Kish palace #1 (exterior decoration), molding, Sassanian era


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