Koftgari – Indian Inlay
Koftgari is the Indian form of damascening which closely resembles the damascening found in Persia and Syria.
The inlay process begins after the piece is moulded and fully formed. The intended design is engraved into the base metal and fine gold or silver wire is then hammered into the grooves.
The base metal is always a hard metal, either steel, iron or bronze, and the inlay a soft metal, either gold or silver. This combination prevents the base from deforming when the wire inlay is hammered into the surface and results in the inlaid areas being well defined and of sharp appearance.
Swords, shield and armour were often decorated in koftgari work and domestic items such as boxes and betel containers, were also made.
The border of this Indian shield is in fine Kuftgari work. This piece was made in the mid- 19th century, the inlay is of gold and the base is of steel. Decorative shields like this one were not intended for battle but rather as pieces for display. This piece is held within the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (116-1852)
Please view a lovely 19th century koftgari box in our collection
- Joseph Cohen