of the utilization of White Bronze in Iranian
Scarce written material exists about the antecedents of
White Bronze manufacture in Iran. Abolqssem Kashani has
spoken of it in his “Arayes-aj-Jawaher va
Lata’ef-al-Ata’eb”. About the origins of this alloy,
Kashani writes: “As eating or drinking in silver or gold
vessels was prohibited under Hojjaj, savants and artisans
made vessels of White Bronze”. These were not actually
made of gold or silver, but their appearance was just as
obtained in different regions show that the manufacture of
this alloy, was well known in Iran since most ancient
basis of existing archaeological documents, the
manufacture of these objects was well-known and currently
practiced before the reign of Hojjaj, 700AD, by AbdolMalek
Marvan to supervise the affairs of Araqain, Hejaz,
Khorasan, Fars and the surrounding territories.
For example, White Bronze alloy vessels, manufactured
using both casting and hammering techniques, have been
found in Lorestan. These include plain and decorated
early specimen of White Bronze is a bowl dating back to
the 2nd millennium BC, unearthed
during the excavations carried out in Marlik. It
presents all the apparent characteristics of White Bronze:
A simple (hemispherical) shape, cracked rim, and wart-like
patina, which covers the entire surface of the object.
Other items made of this alloy have also been discovered
on the archaeological site of Arjan.
it has not yet come across examples of White Bronze from
Achaemenid period, it is most probable that this alloy was
in use at the time. A number of White Bronze vessels
dating back to the late Parthian period and early Sassanid
era were discovered in Deilaman.
On the southern shores of the Caspian Sea (Guilan and
seaside Eastern Mazandaran), several White Bronze objects
dating back to 7th-8th century AD
(late Sassanid period) have been identified to the
present. This was an era, when the local rulers of these
regions strived at emulating the majesty and grandeur of
the Sassanid court, while retaining their independence.
But due to financial limitations, they seldom could afford
gold or silver dishware, and so substituted these with
vessels made of White Bronze.
Beside its attractive golden and silvery appearance, this
alloy is quite cheap to manufacture, and the production of
White Bronze vessels emulating Sassanid silverware was
actively pursued all along the first three centuries after
they display varied shapes and serve different purposes,
White Bronze vessels discovered on Southern shores of
Caspian Sea are conspicuously simple in form. They include
plain and ornamented bowls, boat-shaped vessels,
long-necked started pitchers, footed and simple plates,
large trays, ladles, etc.
Manufacturing White Bronze objects continued throughout
Islamic era, until Safavid period, when such decorative
devices as metal inlay (particularly silver inlay) were
added to the current incising and carving techniques. The
artful metal workers of this period have left behind very
handsome White Bronze vessels.
these pieces of evidence attest, White Bronze was already
used in large quantities during the early centuries of
Islamic era, and its popularity further increased between
10th-13th century AD.
speaking, White Bronze vessels, produced during Islamic
period, present various shapes and decoration types, but
more often include hemispherical bowls, trays, plates,
footed vases, spoons, skimmers…
After the Mongol Invasion, when the artisans of Khorasan
migrated westward in the aftermath of the large-scale
destruction of their cities and artistic centers, the
manufacture of White Bronze artifacts continued in Western
Iran. In Timurid era, the manufacture of White Bronze
objects resumed in the revived metal workshops of Khorasan
and it appears from extant documents that this art was
more or less pursued until Safavid era.