News ID: 318195
Published: 1235 GMT November 24, 2021

Kharmohreh: Blue souvenir of Qom

Kharmohreh: Blue souvenir of Qom
AMIN KARIMI/TASTEIRAN

Six thousand years ago years ago, in the Iranian plateau near today city of Qom, central province of Qom, one day when the copper-melting kilns were opened in a crafts workshop, everybody was shocked by what has never been seen before. The body of kilns which were made from the ordinary river rocks turned into a deep, vitreous blue colour.

People started to rumour the supernatural power caused the magic rocks out of the kilns and within a short time, the story of mysterious phenomenon spread all over the ancient land of Persia, tasteiran.net reported.

Believing the power that blue rocks were to bring, everyone wished to own even a piece of it to protect them against evil and misfortune. Craftsmen started to form the rocks and put them in the copper-melting kilns to become magical and bless the kilns.

The magical blue rocks were rare and rich people were using them as jewellery. Later on, the mysterious beads gained more reputation with the name of kharmohreh meaning the noble people's bead (khar means important and big, mohreh in Persian means bead). Kharmohreh travelled to different parts of the Iranian plateau with different names but the same meaning. In Mazandaran Province, it used to be called kahoo mirkaa" which has the same meaning as kharmohreh.

Hundreds of years passed from the day in the crafts workshop and finally the secret of an oldest known type of glazed ceramic revealed. There was a reaction between the silica rocks, with which the body of the kiln was covered, and the fuel of the kiln — a native plant named ushnan and copper oxide at high temperatures.

So the mystery of supernatural beads was discovered and Iranian craftsmen developed the technique of making it in a systematic way by grinding the silica rocks to make silica powder and mixing it with water and a natural paste to get the silica clay. Kneading the clay, they formed it using different shapes of moulds and prepared glaze powder by mixing different materials including copper oxide.

Later on, the technique was brought to Egypt and Egyptian craftsmen came up with their own version of the technique to produce magical beads for the Pharaohs.

By the passage of time, the production of Persian blue beads faded everywhere but in Qom, until 1937 that Hans E. Wulff recorded the technique of making kharmohreh before the floodgates of industrialization fully opened to the traditional crafts of Persia and cause them ultimate oblivion.

Hans who was trained in Germany as an engineer lived for five years in Iran to serve as the principle of the Shiraz University of Technology. Hans had to study the crafts of Iran closely to integrate traditional technologies into the university.

Then the university was ordered to establish classes of traditional crafts which was the beginning of Hans' interest in compiling a vast glossary of technical terms of all the major crafts for the first time.

The work of recording the crafts continued after World War II and the result of this 30-year research conducted by the craftsmen in bazaars, farmers in villages, and tribesmen in their nomadic tents finally came up in a book titled Traditional Crafts of Persia” published in 1967 by MIT Press.

Visiting the ceramic workshop of Seyyed Morteza Sa‘adatmand in Qom who was following his ancestral crafts to make ceramic ware and kharmohreh, Hans came to know about a unique technique of Persian blue beads. Hans accompanying his daughter-in-law, who was knowledgeable in the ceramic field, realized there is only in Iran and exclusively in Qom where these mythical beads still produced. Recording the technique of making kharmohreh, Hans Wulff was the first who referred to the production method of kharmohreh as the "Qom Technique".

After the introduction of blue beads by Hans, this heritage which has been about to be forgotten over the years was saved by the attention of the world. One more time in the late 1990s, in a research project and workshop which was conducted by the University of Kassel in Germany, the only master of Qom Technique”, Seyyed Abolqassem Sa’adatmand — a descendant of Seyyed Morteza was invited to unfold the untold secrets of the ancient technique.

The city of Qom is now well-known in the world where making kharmohreh has been kept alive by Sa’adatmand family. Today the knowledge of producing kharmohreh is determined to tell more and more people about the rich history behind this human heritage.

 

   
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