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Language: Persian
Source: Period accounts


Khātam is the Persian name of a type of marquetry. It is done by joining long strips of different materials and cross-sections into long rods, which are then cut into slices, each slice showing the rod's cross-section. Materials used were often horn, bone, ivory, ebony, and various metals.

The technique also made it to India, where it was called Sadeli (सदेली). It was probably first introduced into the town of Surat, most famous for this work, through Sindh. Indian craftsmen developed their own distinct forms from there. By 1903, the chief centers of its production also included Ahmedabad, Baroda and Bombay.


A sadeli walking cane

sadeli walking cane.
Sold by Mandarin Mansion in 2021.


In period sources

A description of sadeli from the Indian Art in Delhi exhibition of 1902-1903:

"Marquetry, erroneously spoken of as inlaid work, is largely practised in India. 
It has been placed, as a matter of convenience, under this Divi- 
sion. It is known locally as Sadeli work and the chief centres 
of the craft are Ahmedabad, Baroda, Bombay and Surat. It 
would appear that the art came to India from Persia (Shiraz) 
through Sind, perhaps 300 years or so ago. Certain of the doors 
in the old palace of Nurber near Jaipur are ornamented in this style. 
(1630 A. D.) It was first acquired by the Hindus and then sub- 
sequently taught to the Parsis. The so-called “Bombay boxes” 
were apparently “Sadeli boxes" though the expression was early 
made to embrace carved w^ood or ivory boxes as also boxes 
partly of sandal and partly of sadeli or simply of carved-wood 
and sadeli mixed, provided they were made in Gujarat.

The materials employed are ivory and horn (plain, or col- 
oured green and blue) black ebony, red-wood and tin or silver, applique) 
These are cut into long thin strips of various shapes and are marquetry. 
glued together in such a manner as to show, on transverse section, 
geometric patterns of rich and varied design, believed to be 
traceable to an original floral conception. Thin strips or veneer- 
ing ribbons are thus made by transverse section on a series 
of parellel strands and these ribbons are then glued to the 
surfaces of the boxes, cabinets, etc., as desired. Sometimes panels 
of richly carved sandal-wood or of black ebony, are framed 
in sadeli ware, or at other times the surfaces of the cabinet or 
other article are entirely covered with sadeli." 1

-Sir George Watt, 1903.

This exhibition contained among others:

A chess-table exhibited by Framjee P. Bhumgara of Bombay, price Rs. 375. 
An erect cabinet shown by Muncharam Govind Ram of Bombay, price Rs. 625.
A shawl box by Verji Vandas Sedasive of Bombay, price Rs. 187.
A writing-desk by Kachra Doolabhram of Mangrol, Rs. 125
A black ebony tea-caddy with borders of sadeli by Jamsetji Nasarwanji Petigara of Surat. 2


1. Sir George Watt; Indian Art at Delhi, 1903: Being the Official Catalogue of the Delhi Exhibition, 1902-1903. Published by the superintendent of government printing, Calcutta, India. Illustrations by Wiele & Klein of Madras. 1903. Pages 156-157.

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