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Iranian Handicrafts

Carpets and Rugs

There are six types of rugs in Fars province including: Rural, Khamseh, Qashqa’i Mamasani, Bulvardi & Shirazi rugs. Qahqa’i people weave a kind of rug (Tork-e Shirazi) which is called Mak-eye Shirazi is Western (foreign) Markets. These Persian rugs have the common Orange designs with dark colors such as: dark blue & dark red. Persian Carpets The best known Iranian cultural export, the Persian carpet, is far more than just a floor-covering to an Iranian. A Persian carpet or rug is a display of wealth, an investment, an integral part of religious and cultural festivals, and used in everyday life, e.g as a prayer mat. Carpets have long been used as a form of currency, and weaving new carpets is a kind of savings account, which can be sold off in times of need.

History

The earliest known Persian carpet, which probably dates back to the 5th century BC, was discovered in a remote part of Siberia, clearly indicating that carpets were made in Persia more than 2500 years ago. Historians know that by the 7th century AD Persian carpets made of wool or silk had become famous in court circles throughout the region. Their quality and subtlety of design were renowned, and carpets were exported to places as far away as China, though for many centuries they must have remained a great luxury in their country of production, with the finest pieces being the preserve of royalty. The early patterns were usually symmetrical with geometric and floral motifs designed to evoke the beauty of the classical Persian grade. Towards the end of the pre-Islamic period, stylized animal and human figures (especially royalty) became a dominant design element. After the Arab Conquest, Quranic verses were incorporated into some carpet designs, and prayer mats began to be produced on a grand scale; secular carpets also became a major industry and were highly prized in however, and little is known of early methods of weaving and knotting, or of differences in regional styles. The classification of existing pieces is often arbitrary. During the 16th and 17th centuries, carpet making was given a high level of royal patronage and a favored designer or weaver could expect great privileges. Sheep were specifically bred to grow the finest possible wool fro weaving, and vegetable plantations were tended with scientific precision to provide 60 permanent dyes of just the right shade. The reign of Shah Abbas marks the peak of Persian carpet production, when the quality of the raw materials and all aspects of the design and weaving were brought to a level never seen before or since, perhaps anywhere.Towards the end of the 17th century, as demand for Persian carpets grew, so standards of production began to fall and designs tended to lack inspiration.A long period of stagnation followed, but the fall in standards has to be later still often led the world in quality and design. The reputation of modern Persian carpets has still not entirely recovered from the near-sacrilegious introduction of artificial fibres and dyes earlier this century.

Today Persian Carpets

Persian carpets are a huge export earner for Iran (see the Economy section in Facts about Iran for more details), but there are problems: weaving by looms,which made Persian carpets so special, are being supplanted by modern factories; young Iranians are not interested in learning the traditional methods,of weaving; and cheaper, often blatantly copied, versions of Persian carpets are being produced in India and Pakistan (where child labour is sometimes used, but not in Iran). Iran is heavily promoting the prestige that the term Persian carpets still evokes, recently recapturing a large slice of the world’s trade in carpets and rugs. While some authorities hope that the export of Persian carpets and rugs from Iran will top Us$ 17 billion per year by 2020 pragmatists concede that the costs of making 61 genuine hand-made Persian carpets and rugs will increases to a point where consumers (mainly westerners) will be more happy admiring them in a local museum than forking out good money to buy them.

Types of Carpets & Rugs

Persian carpets and rugs often come in three sizes:the mian farsh carpet is up to 3 m long and up to 2.5 m wide, the kellegi carpet is about 3.5m long and nearly 2 m wide, and the Kenareh carpet is up to 3 m long and 1 m wide. They are made from one of three basic materials. The best is wool (from sheep and goats,and occasionally camels), though the quality of wool does varies from one region to another. Cotton is cheaper and easy to use than wool; silk is mainly used for decorative rugs, as silk is not practical for everyday use. Modern designgs are either symbolic or religious (eg a lamp, indicating the inspired by whatever surrounds the weaver, e.g trees, animals and flowers (particularly the lotus, rose, and chrysanthemum). Common designs include mini-bota, the leaf pattern also found in rugs made in northern India, and probably a forerunner to the paisley patterns found in the west. One different type of rug you may come across is the kilim, a double-sided fiat-woven mat, without knots. These rugs are thinner and softer than other knotted carpets, and rarely used as floor coverings. They are popular as prayer mats (kilim is Turkish for prayer mat) and wall-hangings.

Making Carpets & Rugs

Most handmade carpets are made from wool. The wool is spun, usually by hand, and then rinsed, washed and dried. It is then lovingly dyed, making sure there’s an even colour throughout the rug. In times gone past, dyes were extracted from natural sources such as herbs, skins of local fruit and vegetables and plants (e.g indigo for blue, madder for red, and reseda for yellow). These days, however, chemical dyes are used, mainly aniline (which does sometimes fade) and chrome. After the rug has been made, it is then washed again to enhance the natural colours, though sometimes chemicals are used in the washing process. Nomad carpet – weavers (usually women) use horizontal looms, which are lightweight and transportable. Carpets and rugs made by nomads are less detailed and refined because their equipment is not so sophisticated,but the quality of wool is often high, though sometimes a little uneven. Designs are usually unique, and conjured up by memory, or made up as they go along.These carpets and rugs are mainly weaved fro domestic use, or for occasional trade, and are necessarily small because they must be carried by the nomads. In the villages, small workshops (with men and women) have simple, upright looms, which create better designs, more variety, and extras such as fringes. Designs are usually standard, however, or copied from existing carpets or designs. In recent times, city factories have supplanted nomadic weavers and village workshops, producing carpets of monotonous design and variable quality – and most tourists won’t know the difference.

Knots

You may come across the terms Persian (or Senneh) Knot’ (known in Farsi as a farsi-baf) and Turkish (or Ghiordes) Knot’ (turki-baf). Both are used in Iran:the Turkish knot is common in the Azzarbayejan provinces and western Iran. Without getting too technical, the Turkish knot is looped around two horizontal threads, with the yam lifted between them, while the Persian knot loops around one horizontal thread, and under the next. The difference is not obvious to the layman. As a rough guide, an everyday carpet or rug will have up to 30 knots per sq cm, a medium-grade piece 30 to 50 knots per sq cm, and a fine one 50 knots 63 per sq cm or more. On a real prize piece you might have 500 or more knots per sq cm, but nowadays a museum is the only place you will find such an attempt at perfection. The higher number of knots per sq cm, the better the quality – and, of course, the higher number of knots per sq cm, the better the quality – and, of course, the higher the price. A nomadic weaver can tie around 8000 knots each day; a weaver in a factory, about 12000 knots per day, To find out how long the carpet or rug took to make (a big factor in the cost), determine the size of the rug; ask where it was made (by hand or in a factory); and use a calculator.

Kilim

We are dedicated to serve the lovers and admirers, connoisseurs and collectors of Iranian Kilim (aka Gelims in native language, Persian), rugs and Carpets, and to introduce Kilims to anyone still untouched by their beauty. Kilims are hand knitted or woven from wool,cotton and silk and Herbal Colors with some differences with carpets. All Kilims can be washed with Tea and Walnut Shell to give them a warmer color with an older and antique look.

Gabbeh

In past, gabbeh weaving was more common than rug weaving, but today some kinds of gabbeh with new motifs are customary. Gabbeh fluffs are about 1 to 1.5 cm long, and cover wefts, with coarse knots and thick Fringes. Number of its wales is very low. Gabbeh needs no actual design and much effort. Weaver could divide images, with thousand of knots. Images are about nature and his (her) environment and his (her) imaginary, in which he (she) is interested. Usually gabbeh has 15 to 20 cm margin and monochrome ground. Mostly, it has a simple and initiative image in the middle of gabbeh. In past gabbeh was woven even thinner than rug, that number of its wales was high and had more wefts. This type of gabbeh had flower, water pool, lion and tree, plain or lozenge and other initiative images.

Designs

  • Flower Level ground of this kind of gabbeh fills with red roses and small green leaves in arranged rows. These flowers are like shining gems on beautiful ground and margin of gabbeh is very amazing.
  • Tree Plant cover in forest tree, bushes and pastures, which are ornaments of mountains and fields, as well as birds, are images woven on ground of gabbeh in the shape of tree, tree with bird, flowers, meadows and flowing waters. Each weaver makes differences in his own taste.
  • Water Pool (Gabbeh with lion image) It is a long time that Iranian, especially Fars people, have been interested in lion and preserved its concern with past by making this image on coins, stones statues and also stone images of lion. So lion image gabbeh has found its way to tents and people’s life. These gabbehs are usually spread on the rugs and in center of tents. Seeing this type of gabbeh, among vast fields and mountains, gives special brightness to tent space. Here, lion is the symbol of “Tent Ground”, and also braveness and pride of tent owner, as well.

Other images

Tribe weavers create in their own taste and weave these images on ground or margin of gabbeh. Many imaginary designs have been seen, which could not be classified. Some of images are: Flower, tree and bird, warrior, ram, goat and ibex, hunter riding horse, Rostam and Sohrab, hawk hunting bird, horse riding and wedding ceremonies, mountain and river, white and black tents, various animals, lozenge repeated and cartoon gabbehs, etc.

Jajim Weaving

Before coming of quilt and blanket, Jajim has been the only coverlet of tribesmen. Although it is rough and coarse, it will become fine and delicate by continuous use very soon. Weaving of Jajim is simpler thankilim and more common, as well. A common Jajim with 2.5 meter length and 2 meter width could be woven in less than a month by two weavers, otherwise rug that has millions of knots or kilim that has tens of motifs in several colors. There are fine Jajims woven in tribes, which have 3 to 4 mm thickness. These Jajims are used for decoration. Jajim, like kilim, is woven on horizontal loom. According to the pattern, which weaverhas in mind, colorful warps with certain space have been prepared, on loom. Hand spun and fine wefts, prepared by tribe women, passed through warps and beaten by a comb, to be pressed. Warps make images of Jajim. Wefts are not seemed very much. Common Jajims (Chahar-Koub) are like light and dark checkered in different colors. Motifs could be stripped, square,checkered, toothed, plain and parallel lines, and generally all motifs are along warps. In “Qashqai” tribe, Jajim is also woven as needle lace (called “Rend”) and its motifs are the same as kilim. These Jajim are mostly common in“Kashkouli” and “Dareshori” tribes. Common Jajims could also be woven in two pieces or more. It means that a narrow stripe with 5 meter length and 1.5 meter width,is woven; then divided into 2 pieces. These 2 pieces are sown together side by side. Salvage in between hides the sown points. These Jajim are called “Double Width” and could be woven ever by a weaver. If weavers are more than one it is better to be woven in single width. Today it is woven with the width of 20 to 30 cm; mostly five parts sown together, made Jajim.

Silver Work

By appearing civilizations and discovering metal, different applications of this material, whose most important subdivisions included gold, iron, and silver, were known. The civilized people applied iron to make their weapons; and gold and silver to make dishes, statues, medals, and their ornaments. The art of making metal has started since that time and is still keeping on. Silver has always been taken into special consideration as one of the valuable metals Available in the nature. It is a shining, illuminating and polish able metal being able to reflect light better than other materials, therefore, it has been applied in mirror making as its primary application; in other words, mirror is a thin layer of silver kept by a glass sheet. The specific gravity of silver is 10.5. it melts at 960and boils at 2000 centigrade . It also conducts electricity better than all other metals (regardless gold). Silver is so soft as to bear hammer blows and able to widen and sheet as thin as 0.003 Millimeter. Its property of turning into thin strings is so high that we can make 260 meters of silver string with 0.01 gram of it.

The procedure of making silver material is as follows:

First, the silver bars extracted from mines are melted along with copper. The special alloy made through this process is then changed to thin sheets or bars. They are, after that, hammered on the anvils to be reshaped that way the master wishes. These jobs, having been hammered, have rough surfaces needing to lose a thin layer. Which is usually called charkhkari by silver workers .At this stage; the jobs are ready to be engraved, therefore, behind or inside the dishes are covered with thick layer of tar so that they get hard enough to be prepared for engraving. After that, the artist engraves his design on them. Now it should be mentioned that carving is a job different from engraving, for engraving is performed on stone and wood too. However, engraving is performed only on Metal, thus it is of more consideration. Having finished the engraving job, the engraver master will remove off the tar and soften the surface of the work, which is locally called as Lahimkari .Then the engraved dishes will be bleached with some special materials and brushed with metal brushes and published with soft sand. In the end, those parts of the job not engraved yet will be published by special steel tools.

Khatamkari

Materials used in this craft can be gold, silver, brass, aluminum and twisted wire. Various types of inlaid articles and their quality are known by the size and geometrical designs. Smaller pieces result in a higher value of the artwork. This craft consists in the production of incrustation patterns (generally star-shaped), with thin sticks of wood (ebony, teak, ziziphus, orange, rose), brass (for golden parts), camel bones (white parts). Ivory, gold or silver can also be used for collection objects. These sticks are assembled in triangular beams, assembled and glued in a strict order to create a geometrical motif such as a six-branch star included in a hexagon. At times, cylinders are cut into shorter cylinders and then compressed and dried between two wooden plates, before being sliced for the last time, in 1 mm wide tranches. These sections are ready to be plated and glued on the object to be decorated, before lacquer finishing. The tranche can also be softened through heating in order to wrap around objects. Many objects can be decorated in this fashion, including jewelry boxes, chessboards, pipes, desks, frames or musical instruments.

Design and Usage

Marquetry designing is highly elaborate. In each cubic centimeter of space, up to approximately 250 pieces of metal, bone, ivory and wood are laid side by side. This art, to some extent, has existed in Iran from long 68 ago. The ornamentation of the doors of holy places predominantly consists of inlaid motifs. These specimens can be observed in the cities of Mashhad,Qom, Shiraz and Rey. In the Safavid era, the art of marquetry flourished in the southern cities of Iran, especially in Isfahan, Shiraz and Kerman. This desk is now preserved in the National Museum of Washington.Also, in some royal buildings, doors and various items have been inlaid. The inlaid-ornamented rooms in Sa’dabad and Marble Palace in Tehran are among masterpieces of this art. In Safavid era, khatamkari was so popular in the court that princes learned this technique alongside the art of music or painting. In the 18th and 19th centuries, khatamkari declined,before being stimulated under the reign of Reza Shah, with the creation of art schools in Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz. Incorporating techniques from China and improving it with Persian know-how, this craft existed for more than 700 years and is still practiced in Shiraz and Isfahan.

Current Status

Currently, this art is being practiced in Isfahan, Shiraz and Tehran. Inlay masters, preserving the nobility of their art, have brought forth great innovations in this fine art. Woodcarving is one of the outstanding Iranian arts, which require dexterity and artistic skills. It provides wood, ivory or bone in simple or complex shapes to use in khatamkari. Excellent specimens can be found in historical mosques, palaces and buildings. Some of the Iranian inlaid works are preserved in museums at home or abroad. Images of leaves, flowers, birds and animals predominate. Latticed woodwork, which developed later into an exquisite art, is also manually made by craftsmen. Old latticed doors and windows of Iran are famous. Among other artworks, sudorific inlaid work can be mentioned. In this kind of inlaid work, the artist strictly avoids protrusions on the wood surface. The images carved on natural wood of various colors are finely inlaid. After the application of a fine finish, an even surface is produced. The art of inlaid and sudorific woodwork is supported by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization. These arts are also practiced in private workshops. Khatamkari is part of Iran’s artistic heritage. Official support can help preserve this heritage for future generations.

Mina-kari

Although this course is of abundant use industrially for producing metal and hygienic dishes, it has been paid high attention by painters, goldsmiths and metal engravers since long times ago. In the world, it is categorized into three kinds as below:

  • painting enamel
  • Charkhaneh or chess like enamel
  • Cavity enamel

What of more availability in Esfahan is the painting enamel of which a few have remained in the museums of Iran and abroad indicting that Iranian artists have been interested in this art and used it in their metal works since the Achaemenian and the Sassanid dynasties. The enamels being so delicate, we do not have many of them left from the ancient times. Some documents indicate that throughout the Islamic civilization 69 of and during the Seljuk, Safavid and Zand dynasties there have been outstanding enameled dishes and materials. There have also remained some earrings. Bangles, boxes, water pipe heads, vases, and golden dishes with beautiful paintings in blue and green colors from that time, Afterwards, fifty years of stagnation caused by the World War 1 and the social revolution followed.However, again the enamel red color, having been prepared, this art was fostered from the quantity and quality points of view through the attempts bestowed by Ostad Shokrollah Sani”e zadeh, the outstanding painter of Esfahan in 1935 and up to then for forty years. Now after a few years of stagnation since 1992, this art has started to continue its briskness having a lot of distinguished artists working in this field. To prepare an enameled dish we should make the following steps: First, we choose the suitable dish by the needed size and shape which is usually made by coppersmith. Then, it is bleached wholly through enameled working which is known as the first coat. As the next step, it is put into a seven hundred and fifty – degree – furnaces. At this time, the enameled metal will be coated with better enamels for a few more times and is heated at suitable degrees. Now it is the turn of the painter to demonstrate his art. The Esfahanian artists, having been inspired by their traditional plans as arabesque, khataii (flowers and birds) and using fireproof paints and special brushes, have made painting of Esfahan monuments such as step, the enameled material is put into the furnace again and heated at 500 degrees.In this way, the enameled painting is stabilized on the on under – coat, so getting the special shining. Meanwhile, most of today”s enamel workings are performed on dishes, vases, boxes and frames in various sizes.

Qalamzani:

Iranian Art of engraving images on metal Repousse or the Chiselwork, known as ‘Qalamzani’ inPersian language, is one of the most meticulous types of the fine arts in which the lasting decorative works engraved on metal objects made of gold, silver,copper, brass or other inexpensive alloy(s) elaborately depicts marvelous images of various plants and animals. Historically, the original form of this art dates back to ‘the Cave-dwelling Age’ when the Primitive Man skillfully carved his own image on stones making up the inner walls of his cave. In thorough preparation for this work, the master craftsman fills the objects to be embossed with a hot mixture of pitch and fine sand or ashes, which after cooling is sufficiently hard and heavy, to act as a base yet plastic enough to give way when the embossing chisel drives the metal back. The creative engraver certainly needs the talents of a master painter plus the great skills of driving and hammering the various chisel on to a hard metal surface which is not flat like those of water colour or oil painting bases.

Termeh

Termeh is a handwoven cloth of Iran, mostly nowadays the Yazd province is the main center of producing it. Weaving Termeh needs a good wool with tall fibers. Making of Iranian Termeh is the result of the cooperation between an expert and a worker called ‘Goushvareh-kesh’. Weaving Termeh is a sensitive,careful and time consuming work that a good weaver could produce only 25 to 30 centimeters in a day. The background colors which are used in Termeh are jujube red, light red, green, orange and black.

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