Thursday, May 29, 2008

Iran's Ghainarcha Spa at the foot of the Sabalan Mountain

Iran's Ghainarcha world's hottest spa
Sun, 13 Jan 2008 14:02:29
A view of Iran's Ghainarcha Spa at the foot of the Sabalan Mountain
Iran enjoys significant potentialities in tourism, with the 86-degree Ghainarcha Spa, the world's hottest mineral spa, being a case in point.

86 degree Celsius (187 degree Fahrenheit) is the hottest temperature recorded for a mineral spa and the spot happens to be in Iran. The Ghainarcha Spa, bubbling up at the foot of the beautiful Sabalan Mountain in Ardebil province, is visited by a large number of tourists every year.

The hot temperature of the natural mineral spring refuses to surrender to the cold climate of the area, which could fall as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius.

It keeps boiling even in the freezing winters of the northwestern province, with the steamy bubbles offering a unique sight in the sub-zero temperature.

Owing to its innate chlorinated water, the natural hot mineral water pool is widely known as a tourist attraction of medicinal properties.

The pool gushes out of the ground in the virginal mountainous suburbs of Meshkin Shahr to provide the people with alternative medicine for lymphatic diseases, rachitic, gynecological problems and some other chronic rheumatic conditions.

The water flows through the mineral spring at a rate of 9 liters per second, which makes the spa perfect for an afternoon rest.

The well equipped spa gained ISO 9002 quality certification. The ISO 9002 standard is an emerging global standard for product and process quality, adopted by 91 countries that comprise the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Village-life experience in Meymand

Village-life experience in Meymand
Thu, 24 Apr 2008 12:43:52
Meymand, a village carved out of the mountains in Iran's Kerman Province
Soon tourist traveling to Iran will be offered the unique experience of living like a native in the historical village of Meymand.

Meymand, a village carved out of the mountains in Iran's Kerman Province and one of the most ancient human settlements in the world, is believed to be 2500 years old.

Kiarash Eghtesadi, head of Meymand's Research Center, says the new scheme will allow tourists to live as the native villagers do, learning basket weaving, felt and saddlecloth making and how to harvest almonds and walnuts.

Built thousands of years before Persepolis, Meymand village is one of the few rock settlements in the world still intact and the seventh cultural and historical landscape in the world to win the UNESCO Melina Mercury Award.

Iran's 4500-year Cypress Tree living

Iran's 4500-year cypress tree living
Thu, 24 Apr 2008 12:44:32
The 4500-year-old cypress tree is in Abarkuh, Yazd Province, Iran
A 4500-year-old cypress tree in Iran's southeastern province of Yazd is to be soon protected as one of the world's biggest living organisms.

Department of Environment of Yazd Province hopes to have this colossal tree protected from being damaged or destroyed.

The tree, gracefully standing in the city of Abarku, located in the southwest of the Yazd Province is one of the region's seven historical and natural sites and is nominated to be added to the World Heritage list.

Russian scientist Alexander Rouf has estimated the tree's age to be between 4000 and 4500 years, and with a height of 25 meters and a trunk 11.5 meters around, this massive tree definitely deserves preservation and a chance to shine on the list of world heritage.

Thousands of other historical sites attract tourists to Yazd, home to the largest population of Zoroastrians in Iran. Zoroaster was the ancient prophet of the Persians who preached the peaceful Zoroastrian religion based on humanity and goodwill, still widely practiced today in Iran.

"The Lost Paradise" near Nahavand in Hamedan province

087813.jpg A view of Sarab Giyan also known as "The Lost Paradise" near the Iranian city
of Nahavand in Hamedan province.

Azari Carpet Designers at Domotex

Azari Carpet
Designers at Domotex

Nine Azari carpet designers will take part in the German Exhibit ’Domotex’, which will be held in Hanover on January 13.
According to IRNA, head of East Azarbaijan Commerce Organization Sadeq Najafi said the event will feature a variety of Iranian carpets.
He further stated that 30 Iranian artists will participate in the event, which will also showcase carpets exhibited earlier in Copenhagen.
Noting that 80 percent of Iranian entries at the Copenhagen exhibit belonged to Azari businessmen, he said that such events will provide an opportunity to introduce Azari and Tabriz carpets.
He anticipated that Azari businessmen will take part in 60 exhibits this year.
Najafi recalled that the carpet weaving industry not only has a high status in provincial economy but also provides a living for 400,000 people. He called for all-out efforts to develop export of carpets produced in the province.
East Azarbaijan exports carpets worth over $100 million annually.
According to statistics released by the provincial Carpet Union, some 200,000 people are engaged in the carpet

The Medes of Persia

Medes Civilization
Very little is mentioned about the Medes Civilization in Assyrian and Babylonian history records. The writings of ancient historians and also two chapters of the holy Bible refer to the Medes Civilization.

According to Iranvisitor website, the Medes themselves left no written records from the pre-Achaemenid era or the zenith of the Medes Empire.
It is certain that in the early 1st millennium BC, Indo-Iranian nomads began to settle in the western and northwestern Iran. It was at that time that they intermingled with native Iranians.
The first mention of the Medes Civilizations in Assyrian records associates them with the Scythians with whom they shared tribal names, suggesting a certain link between the two tribes. The borders of their lands were never demarked, but it was in an area which is currently northwestern Iran; bordering Mesopotamia to the east, stretching south to the Persian Gulf (Elam, Parthian) and Caspian Sea and the Caucasus to the north.
Assyrian reliance on the Silk Road trade zone made Medes a target for empire building and military diplomacy. Records tell us that Median tribes paid tribute to their powerful neighbors, but were never completely conquered by them. It is likely that it was this aggression that served to unite the Median tribes, creating a formidable military power that in turn began to threaten the Assyrian lands.
The writings of the 5th century Greek historian ’Herodotus’ mentions four kings named Deioces, Phraortes, Cyaxeres and Astyages who ruled a united Medes from the beginning of the 7th century BC to the middle of the 5th century BC.

However, the nature of his account and inconsistency with other sources throws doubt on this. It is likely that Herodotus simplified a complex oral tradition that was about the origins of the later Achaemenid Empire, confirming a myth about the origins of a civilization as historical fact.
What is certain is that during the reign of Cyaxares, Medes had developed from being a loose confederation of tribal groupings into a nation under a single king who exacted tribute from Persians, Armenians, Parthians and Aryans.

That the name of the Median capital, Ecbatana, meant “place of assembly“ adds further weight to the tribal confederation explanation of the origins of the empire.
Cyaxares defeated the Assyrian Empire badly by destroying their religious capital, Ashur in 614 BC. Two years later, while allied with Babylon, the Assyrian capital Nineveh also fell to the Medes.
The Median Empire was at its zenith at that time, encompassing Armenia, Assyria and Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey) in the west and stretching as far as the Oxus River in the east.
However, Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, was to be the last of the Median kings. In response to the growing power of a coalition of tribes under the leadership of King Cyrus of Anshan, Astyages sent an army to Persia (modern-day Fars province). After brief skirmishes, the army deserted their king, captured him and handed him over to Cyrus in 550 BC.

Esther-Mordekhay (Mordechai) Tomb in Hamedan

Esther-Mordekhay Tomb in Hamedan

The Tomb of Esther and Mordekhay is located on Shariati Avenue, in crowded downtown of Hamedan city. Construction materials used in this edifice are stone and bricks. It was built in compliance with the Islamic architectural style.
The tomb was built in the seventh century AH on top of an older building dating back to the third century AH, Tacher website reported.
The tomb’s door, a 6-8 inch thick piece of solid gray granite with a rough surface, opens into a small anteroom. A soot-blackened glass separates visitors from a space designated for candle lighting.
An arch with plaster ornaments directs visitors into a high ceiling square room the walls of which are decorated with Hebrew reliefs describing Esther and Mordekhay origins. In the center, the two beautifully carved coffins stand five feet high, draped in shimmering vibrant color cloth, one reading ’Esther’, the other ’Mordekhay’. The original graves are located deeper below in the ground.
Another surviving treasure is a magnificent 300-year-old Torah that is now housed at the provincial Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department.
A brief description of the biography of Esther and Mordekhay as outlined by the Torah follows:
An ancient king of Persia, Ardeshir married a Jewish woman called Esther, who was the niece of one of the dignitaries of the time called Mordekhay. This way Jews gained a great deal of influence in Ardeshir’s court.
Meanwhile, a person called Haman, who was also another influential dignitary, felt jealous of the mounting influence of Jews and urged Ardeshir to issue the order for the massacre of Jews. However, Mordekhay resorted to Esther to convince Ardeshir to cancel his order. Ardeshir accepted and hence Jews were rescued from being massacred. From then on, toward the beginning of spring, Jews hold a special ritual for praying and fasting called ’Purim’ to commemorate the anniversary of the rescue of Jews from massacre.
Esther’s real name was Hadseh. But, since she was very beautiful, she was called Esther, which means star.

Peacocks at Isfahan’s Birds Garden

Peacocks at Isfahan’s Birds Garden
Isfahan's Birds Garden, covering an area of over 55 square kilometers, is located in Najvan Park along the Zayandeh Roud River. It boasts over 5,000 bird species, including peacocks, pelicans and eagles.
Among the IsfahanÕs most appealing tourist attractions, the garden is unique in the Middle East. (Photo by Reza Milani)

Anahita Temple The Legendary Monument

Anahita Temple The Legendary Monument

On the road from Tehran toward Kermanshah, one passes through the valley of Asadabad . There, in the small town of Kangavar , ruins of a historical site appear in full majesty.
This site is known as the Temple of Anahita, which was built by Achaemenian Emperor Ardeshir II (Artaxerxes II) during 359 BC to 404 BC, the website Vohuman reported.
Kangavar was mentioned by the Greek geographer Isidore of Charax in the first century AD under the name of Konkobar in the ancient province of Ecbatana ; its name may have been derived from the Avestan Kanhavara, “enclosure of Kanha“.
This legendary temple was built in honor of “Ardevisur Anahita,“ the female guardian angel of waters.

The temple’s architecture matches those of palaces and temples built during the Achaemenian period, 330 BC to 550 BC, in western Iran . Large pieces of stone are cut and placed on top of each other; their shape usually causes them to interlock and form a wall or platform by a mountainside.
The Arab geographer Yaqut wrote the following about Kangavar in 1220: he says the place was the meeting-place of bandits, locally called either Qasr-e Shirin ( Castle of Shirin ) after Khosro’s favorite wife, or more often Qasr Al-Lasus (the Robbers’ Castle).

He wrote: “The Robbers’ Castle is a very remarkable monument, and there is a platform some 20 cubits above the ground and on it there are vast portals, palaces and pavilions, remarkable for their solidity and beauty.“
The shapes and carvings of the columns are similar to those found in Persepolis and the Palace of Darius in Susa .
In the 19th century, various Europeans investigated the ruins. Ker Porter in 1818
found them to form the foundations of a single huge platform--a rectangular terrace three hundred yards long, crowned with a colonnade.
Professor Jackson in 1906 found one very well-preserved wall at the northwestern corner of the enclosure, probably part of the foundation of a single building. It was 12 to 15 feet high and lay north to south for more than 70 feet.

Silver and Gold
According to some historians, the Temple of Anahita at Ecbatana was a vast palace, four-fifths of a mile in circumference, built of cedar or cypress wood. In all of it, not a single plank or column stood but was covered by plates of silver or gold. Every tile of the floor was made of silver and the building’s faade was apparently covered with bricks of silver and gold.
It was first plundered by Alexander in 335 BC and further stripped during the reigns of Antigonus (BC 325-301) and Seleucus Nicator (BC 312-280).
But when Antiochus the Great arrived at the city in 210 BC, he found columns covered with gold and silver tiles in the temple, along with gold and silver bricks.
Archeological excavations uncovered the imprints of Sassanid dynasty.

Taq-e Bostan
Continuing on the road to
Kermanshah would take the traveler to another ancient site known as Taq-e Bostan.
At this site, several Taqs (arches) are carved with detailed inscriptions commemorating a major event of the era. The largest and latest Taq was carved to celebrate the coronation of Khosro-II Parviz, also known as Khosro Parviz. In the upper section of the Taq, Khosro’s image is carved receiving his crown from Mobed-e-Mobedan (the topmost priest of his time) under the protection of the guardian angel of waters--Anahita.

Beizaei Producing Persian Carpet Documentary

Beizaei Producing Carpet Documentary
TEHRAN, May 31--Playwright and filmmaker Bahram Beizaei is currently working on a short documentary titled ’Talking Rug’ which deals with the Iranian carpet industry.
According to the Persian daily ’Bonnie Film’, Beizaei shot the documentary in Tehran’s Saadabad Cultural Complex and Carpet Museum.
Asked about what message the film wants to convey to viewers, he simply replied: “I have nothing to tell to anybody.“
Beizaei added, “If you expect me to call for saving the industry, you are mistaken. The industry was destroyed suddenly and it can never be revived.
“I make the film in honor of those who have enthusiastically been engaged in weaving carpets for years.“
Elaborating on the production of the film in the field, he pointed out, “Carpet industry is not new to me and several years ago, I talked about the influence of carpet on my work.“
The film narrates the part of the carpet story that is little known to the public, he said, adding, “I am producing a film on the designs which have been forgotten for six or seven decades and are no longer woven.“
’Talking Rug’ does not make use of words and it just features pictures accompanied by music, he noted.
Mohammad Reza Darvishi, a researcher on regional music, has undertaken the composition of the music for the film.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Persian Carpet sector to create trademark for its exclusive designs

Carpet sector to create trademark for its exclusive designs
May 26, 2008 (Iran)

Iran which is world-famous for producing exquisite carpets, is finding ways to protect its industry from the unscrupulous practices of other countries, who are also in the race to capture potential global markets.

Carpet designs indigenous to Iran are so much in demand that other countries have started imitating them to get hold of a considerable market share. Besides, these countries have also made use of new marketing strategies that give them an edge over Iran.

An official from Iran National Carpet Center told Fibre2fashion, “The country produces 5.50 million square meters of hand-woven carpets annually. Moreover, export statistic for the year 2007 shows an income of over US $450 million coming from these products.”

Tabriz, Isfahan, Shiraz, Hamedan, Kerman, Arak, and Mashad are some of the major carpet producing cities in Iran exporting their price-less creations to markets in Germany, US, Persian Gulf, Japan, Russia, and Tunisia.

Presently, the carpet industry of Iran is focusing on creating an identity mark for their products representing the authenticity and origin of the rugs so as to rightfully secure their markets in countries across the world.
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

Sunday, May 25, 2008

East Azarbaijan Carpet Exports at $200m

E. Azarbaijan Carpet
Exports at $200m

East Azarbaijan province exported $200 million worth of carpets in the Iranian year to March 19, the provincial Commerce Department announced on Monday.
Director of the Commerce Department Sadeq Najafi said that handwoven Persian carpets were exported to the United States, Japan, the Persian Gulf states, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and a number of European countries, IRNA reported.
Holding Specialized Persian Carpet Exhibition in Denmark and studying the problems of carpet weavers were some of the measures taken by the department to upgrade the quality of handwoven Persian carpets, Najafi said.
There are almost 300,000 people in East Azarbaijan, northwest Iran, involved in weaving high quality Persian carpets and rugs.

Friday, May 23, 2008

First Festival of South Khorasan Handwoven Carpets in Birjand

Handwoven Carpet Festival Underway

About 200,000 square meters of handwoven carpets are produced in South Khorasan province, announced head of the provincial Commerce Department, Nader Mirshekar.
Speaking in the First Festival of South Khorasan Handwoven Carpets in Birjand, he noted that 45,000 carpet weavers are active in the province and 50 percent of them have insurance, according to IRNA.
He put the number of carpet looms in the province, at 15,000.
Referring to the age-old history of handwoven carpets in the province, Mirshekar noted that carpet weaving activities are being conducted in both private and state-run sectors.
Head of the province’s Union of Handwoven Carpet Producers and Weavers, Hassan Kamiabi said that 3,107 people were referred to banks for loans.

Jajim Weaving

Jajim Weaving

Jajim or Jajem means a ’Thick cloth’ like ’Palas’ and also a kind of two-sided carpet, which is thinner than Palas. Jajim is woven with colorful and fine threads of wool or mixture of silk and wool. It is hand woven with no fluff and its two surfaces could be used. It is a tribal weaving and used as a coverlet or protector from coldness.

According to Caroun website, before 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 than Kilim and also more common. 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 three to four millimeter thickness. These Jajims are used for decoration.
Jajim, like Kilim, is woven on horizontal loom. According to the pattern, which weaver has 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.
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 Jajims are mostly common in ’Kashkouli’ and ’Dareshouri’ tribes.
Common Jajims could also be woven in two pieces or more. It means that a narrow stripe with five meter length and 1.5 meter width, is woven; then divided into two pieces. These two 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 centimeters; mostly five parts sown together, made Jajim.

Types of Jajim
’Plain’ and ’Chahar-Koub’ Jajim

Its weave is simpler and more common than other Jajims. It has different kinds of designs and images:
A) Stripe: In different colors, sometimes has Gumpul margin. Parallel lines of these hand-woven have five to one centimeter width and sometimes decorate between rows by fine lines.
B) Checkered: This kind of Jajim is woven in small and large squares. Colorful warps replaced each other and shown applied colors in every square, therefore lighten and darken colors of the ground. Sometimes it is decorated with small woolen Gumpuls and gives it special brightness. This Gumpuls are applied in the center of squares or on the corner of them, in rows or zigzag pattern, as margin of Jajim.
C) Khotab: Khotab is woven in parallel rows or stripped in different colors. Corners of each row have ornaments alike to basic images of ’Kongere Madakhel’, which narrow parts of tooth are towards the inside and in front of each other and makes a fantastic design.
D) Flower: Like other Jajim images, is in parallel lines, but darker colors in each row, beside the next row, placed close to each other in such a way that are seen as a beautiful images. These images, according to weaver’s taste, which is specified by colors, create such beautiful flowers, which are compared to seven color napkin.
E) Toothed: Parallel lines of these Jajims have three to four centimeters width. Each row has specific color. In the middle of each row, “toothed“ basic image passes throughout Jajim length and makes itself apparent among colors.

’Shisheh-Dermah’ Jajim
These Jajims are mostly used for decoration and hardly woven by tribes. ’Shisheh-Dermah’ is usually woven in two dark and light colors and sometimes with a margin, which is in harmony with ground in color. This kind of Jajim is mostly seen in dark blue and white, margin in white and black or in white and red. It is one sided hand-woven, as the extra wefts of its other side are seen. Basic images of ’Shisheh-Dermah’ are lozenges, in which their sides are along each other. In the center of every lozenge, a special motif is woven. Margin is woven in parallel lines and stripped and in harmony with ground.

Needle (Rend)
Images of these Jajims are like those of Kilim (in both ground and margin). Peacock, Cashmere Flower, Khorasan, Lengej, Tehran, Aqajeri, Sormeh-dan, flower leaf, alma flower, images in various colors are mostly used; and wool or fuzz warps and wefts, make images magnificent. Sizes of these Jajims, depending to the usage, are different, but 2x2.5m is more common. Corners of Jajims, used as bedspread, are decorated by Gumpuls and colorful pendants.



Gabbeh is a kind of hand-woven carpet, thicker and softer than a rug, but with less imagery. It has a longer fluff and more wefts. Hence, weaving Gabbeh is simpler than weaving a rug and more durable.
The weaving of the traditional Gabbeh was more common than rug weaving in the past, but today Gabbeh is also woven with new motifs, the website Caroun reported.

Gabbeh’s Evolution
The dark ages of colonization, droughts, death and escape from oppression not only helped evolve this original art, but also led to the loss of many designs and originality.
In the late 20th century, Qashqai tribesmen innovated and developed their hand-woven Gabbehs. They produced many valuable Gabbehs, which received much attention because of their originality, quality, color and designs.

Tribal weavers follow the weaving method passed down by their elders. The daughter uses the same colors and images that her mother had learned from her grandmother.

Traditionally, Gabbeh is woven without a design and the weaver is free to create images with as many knots he or she prefers. Images are basically about nature and environment, which are woven in an imaginative manner.
Usually Gabbeh has a margin of 15 to 20 cm and a monochromatic base. Often, it has a simple image in the middle.
Gabbeh’s fluff is about 1 to 1.5 cm long. It has coarse knots and thick fringes.
In the past, Gabbeh was woven even thinner than the rug and featured flowers, a pool of water, lion and a tree.
The different types of Gabbeh are known by the main motif used in it.

This type of Gabbeh is filled with red roses and small green leaves in rows. The flowers are like shining gems on a beautiful lush field and the margin of such a Gabbeh is very attractive.

Trees, bushes and pastures on mountains and fields are woven as the base of Gabbeh with bird, flowers, meadows and flowing water added to it. Each weaver designs this type of Gabbeh differently based on his or her own preference.

Tribes are highly interested in this image, which could be due to the importance of lion in ancient Iran. It is the symbol of bravery and the tribal people, especially of Fars province, manifested this image on coins, stone images and Gabbeh.
The image of lion has found its way to their tents and daily lives. These types of Gabbeh are usually spread in the center of tents. Seeing this type of Gabbeh in the middle of vast fields and mountains lends a special brightness to the tent.

Other Images
Tribal weavers also create other images on the main body or margin of Gabbeh. Some of these images include a warrior, ram, ibex, hunter, horse-rider, Rostam and Sohrab, hawk, wedding ceremonies, white and black tents and other animals.
Preserving customs and handicrafts is necessary, but must be accompanied with diversity and i

Turkmen Wedding Customs

Attractive Customs

Gorgan Plain is situated along the Caspian Sea coastline, but rises above the sea-level as we go toward the east side of the plain. To its north is a vast low region that stretches as far as Turkmenistan and to its south lie the eastern parts of Alborz mountains, which has peaks exceeding 3,000 meters.

According to Iranchamber website, the mountainous region situated to the east of Gorgan Plain includes villages and districts of Kalaleh, Goli Dagh, Ghara Bolkhan, Torveh Tappeh and Hesarche. The region where Iranian Turkmans live, called Turkman Sahra, is located to the south of Atrak River.

Tribal Roots
Turkmans arrived from Central Asia and live under various social and natural conditions.
According to ancient narratives, the head of Turkmans was a person called Aghooz Khan, who is regarded in Turkman myths as Adam. Another point worthy of mention in these myths is the reference made to Noah and his three sons. In the Turkmans’ family tree, we come across names like Tatar, Turk, etc. who were descendants of a tribal leader named Alinje Khan.
Marriage in the tribal system plays an important role due to the need for manpower. Women play a big role, as they make felt, spin wool, weave carpets and cloths, milk cows and sheep, prepare dairy products for the family, build cottages and help men in cultivation, maintenance and harvesting of agricultural products. And, most important of all, they give birth to children and help their husbands in other activities too.
For the same reason, elaborate and glorious ceremonies and rites are observed in the case of courting and marriage.

Marriage Ceremonies
Sport contests, including horse racing and wrestling, are performed by men while adolescents dance and some groups sing songs.
As the wedding ceremony is important among Turkmans, it would be appropriate to describe its stages.
The ceremony is usually held in an open space and string instruments are played. Men and women celebrate separately. As guests come from far-off places, celebrations continue for two or three days, so that everybody gets an opportunity to participate.
The men’s assembly begins with the playing of a double-stringed instrument and flute, and a kind of soup called shurva is consumed.
The bride is taken to the bridegroom’s house in kajaveh (kind of pannier used in pairs on camels or mules). When taking the kajaveh, 30 horsemen ride alongside each of whom with a piece of cloth 1.5 meters long strung from his horse to indicate his tribe.
Before the bride mounts the kajaveh, her mother sprinkles white flour as a sign of good luck. Then the kajaveh moves along. At this time, agile horsemen move toward the bridegroom’s house to announce the news about the bride’s departure. Whoever gets first to the bridegroom’s house receives a prize, which is a kind of shawl hung round the neck of the horse. This kind of race is now called desert race.
When the bride moves toward the bridegroom’s house, handkerchiefs are waved in the sky and songs are sung. The guests are then entertained.

Traditional Sports
The main sport in Turkmans’ life is horse racing. Turkman horse riders start their career from the age of 5, that is from the time they can sit on a horse.
In addition to horse racing, wrestling is an important traditional sport of Turkmans. They practice this sport from a very young age and win awards for their villages and towns.
Turkman wrestling contest is an arena for showing one’s strength against known or unknown rivals. Weights of participants or time of contests are not taken into account. The two contestants continue their fights indefinitely until the final results are announced. The space of this contest is not limited and the wrestler is allowed to tackle his rival over a long area.
The most important point in this wrestling is that if the hand or knee or any part of the wrestler’s body, except his palm, touches the ground, the wrestler is declared the loser, and the referee will raise the other’s hand and will declare him the winner. A prize is usually awarded to the winner. In traditional Turkman wrestling, strong wrists and legs contribute to victory. Wrestling rarely ends in a draw.
If the shoulders or sides of the two champions touch the ground at the same time, the match will end in `chal’ or draw and the hands of the two will be raised as winners. Any prize envisaged for this purpose will be divided equally between the two.
Wrestling is held during religious festivities, weddings, circumcisions and other happy occasions. As a sign of vow or dedication, the recipient ties the handkerchief and touches it on his forehead.
In Turkman Sahra, all weddings and celebrations end in horse racing and wrestling. These events are, in fact, the main elements of celebrations.

Mat-Weaving in Yazd

Mat-Weaving in Yazd

The history of mat-weaving in Iran dates back to several centuries ago. The art has been popular in those areas with abundant palm groves.
However, mat-weaving has never been among the main profession of the people. Farmers have engaged in mat-weaving parallel to their main occupation.
Residents of Yazd have always considered mat-weaving as a leisure activity, IRNA reported.
The cities of Bafq and Ardekan (both in Yazd province) have a lot of palm groves that makes finding raw material for mat-weaving industry easier.
Women outnumber men in mat-weaving passing through old districts in Yazd province, female mat-weavers can be seen.

The leaves of date palm are also used in producing mats. The process of mat-weaving comprises six phases of picking the leaves, inserting the leaves into water, separating the leaves from branches, dying of mats and eventually the actual process of mat-weaving.
A variety of mat-woven products are available and before production of similar plastic products the mat products were popular.
Despite urbanization and abundance of many machine-made products, the assiduous men and women of Yazd province are still used to traditional mat-weaving.

Arak Rug Art of Powerful Hands

Arak Rug Art of Powerful Hands
Arak province has a long history in carpet weaving. According to historical evidence and local situation of this province, carpet weaving in certain parts, like Sarough, Farahan, Saraband and Moradabad dates back to ancient times.

According to Caroun website, after the Sassanid era, the carpet weaving was neglected for many centuries. Due to such negligence and also because of continuous wars in central regions of Iran, no authentic information on establishment of big workshops and important carpets is available.
In the middle of Nassereddin Shah’s reign, Arak rugs had a perceptible presence, so rugs of this region were known all over the world.
As Arak is near Qom, Kashan, Isfahan and Hamedan, designers and weavers of Kashan, Kerman and Isfahan have directly taken part in reviving Arak carpet weaving some native patterns of those regions can be seen in Arak rugs.
In 1875 (during Nassereddin Shah’s era) for the first time, Tabriz businessmen exported products from Arak and its counties.
Historical references show that people of Arak were experts in preparing dyes, dyeing and weaving carpets until the beginning of the 20th century. In Europe, fine rugs of Iran are known as ’Sarough’ (after a region in Arak).

Particularities and Materials
Arak rug is coarse and well-known for its native-regional characteristics and based on the use of wool, dye, plain and mostly rustic designs. It is noteworthy that coarse rug is thick with long and resistance piles that make it suitable for elasticity. Such quality of Arak rug makes it suitable for cold and mountainous regions of Markazi province.
The basic characteristics of Arak rug are that it uses native wool, hand-spun yarns, local dyes and traditional dyeing methods.
Ancient rugs of Moshkabad (in Markazi province), are well-known for their durability all over the world. It goes without saying that the fame of Arak rug is attributed to dyeing methods and making use from basic designs. However, the most important characteristic of Arak rug is related to making use from long and elastic wool. Such quality is seen in quality rugs of Sarough type (Farahan region).
Wool used in these rugs is mostly fine Iranian wool with long, thick and special crimp which is spun by hand or by common spinning wheel.
Such kinds of wool have been supplied from Sabzevar, Boroujerd, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari, Hamedan and Kermanshah regions which have the best quality rugs.
Arak rugs are categorized in three groups: Mahal, Moshkabad and Sarough, which are all influenced by a rug named “Sarough“.
There are many different reasons for the high quality of Arak rugs, including numerous native sheep. This wool has all specifications which are required for carpet, like long crimp, thickness and fine elasticity, as well as softness.
Dye and Color
While using colorful dyes in rugs has a positive impact, it must be mentioned which Arak rugs had become well-known for its colors.
Most ancient rugs of Sarough with its famous milky color, Farahan rugs with splendid blue color and Moshkabad rugs with its famous wool have been exported to world markets and now are found in museums and private collections.
Traditional natural and herbal dyes are mostly used in Arak. Cochineal, a colorful insect, which is used as a dye, or azure, which is extracted from cobalt or mine stones.
All of these colors, Farahan’s blue, Moshkabad’s azure or Sarough’s milky-red, are well-known in this region. Green and yellowish cream colors obtained from rich compounds of herbs and walnut shell, vine leaf, pomegranate shell dyes, each has a valuable share in dyeing. Fame of well-known ’Sarough Rug’, like other ancient rugs of this region, is attributed to the use of traditional herbal dyes.

If top marks are given to design, dye and use of basic materials in quality and desirability of ancient rugs, the next important parameter will be correct and adequate weaving to preserve reasonable standards of size and knots.

Designs and Images
Apparently, fame of traditional herbal dyeing has been the main reason behind attractiveness of Arak rugs. It would be na•ve to relate weaving of the past to limited dyes (though of best quality). Most attractiveness and fame of ancient Farahan region and Sarough, even Arak rugs is found in local characteristics, as well as design patterns and pictures of such rugs.
In the era of Fathali Shah until the end of Nasseredin Shah’s rule, existing rugs had complete regional and local identity. Those known as ancient Farahan and Moshkabad rugs are not related to today’s Arak rugs which have monotonous and conventional images.
Certain traditional images, like fish, paisley, corner-medallion and a pattern belonging to Shalle weaving “Almond“, which come from Kerman or Kashan, on relatively coarse rugs--and also existence of some special images in ancient rugs of Khamseh, Saraband, Lilian, Sarough and Moshkabad--signifies that in the central Iran and near an area called Arak today carpet weaving has been very popular.

The tribal people of Dasht-e Moghan

101397.jpg The tribal people
of Dasht-e Moghan,
Ardebil province
celebrate during a spring festival.(Photo by Kamel Rohi)

Iranian Carpet Weaving Townships Planned

Carpet Weaving Townships Planned
Deputy head of Iran National Carpet Center gave word of the plan for establishing carpet weaving townships nationwide.
Speaking to IRNA, Mohammad Reza Abed added the first township will be established in Tehran as a role model for other townships to be established throughout Iran.
“Townships will be established in industrial cities, in which carpet weaving is not commonplace the way it is in rural areas,“ Abed pointed out.
He also said that INCC is ready to launch carpet stock market.
“Private sector is currently pursuing the issue of establishing carpet stock market in Kish island,“ Abed noted.
He pointed out that there are currently 1.2 million carpet weavers in the country.

Baluch Cultural Festival Held

Baluch Cultural Festival Held

On the occasion of the World Museum Day and the Cultural Heritage Week, Cultural Festival of Baluch Women was held in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan on May 18-19.
Secretary of the festival, Shahin Borhanzehi said: “The flow of information and exchange of viewpoints among Baluch women are aimed at increasing women’s participation in cultural, artistic and social field and finding out the challenges faced by Baluch women during the two-day event,“ reported Press TV.
Cosponsored by Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization’s Research Center of Anthropology, Youth Organization of Farmer’s House, and Sistan-Baluchestan governor’s office, the festival pursues promotion of knowledge of Baluch women, creating more jobs for them and studying women’s status in Islam.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rugs as language, two groups with a Kurdish Accent.

Rugs as language, two groups with a Kurdish Accent.
Over the years I have assembled a theory that weaving is a form of language. That closely related languages will share similarities in diction and grammar and that rug weaving groups follow the same pattern with weave and structure which is the diction and grammar of this non-verbal aspect of language. Two closely related groups are the Sanandaji (Sine'i, Sina'i, Sineyi) and the Garrusi (Bijari). I pulled a few examples that show enough detail that someone might see what I am saying. Why do they use eccentric wefts? It is because that is their language. See
Bijar Shahsavan kilim, circa 1900, Senneh_kilim_late_19thC and Senneh Rugs: Senneh Kelim with close-up of weave.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Folklorist Henry Glassie retires

Glassie: ‘Look at the overlooked’

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Professor of Folklore Henry Glassie stands outside Bear's Place Monday afternoon. Glassie will be retiring this year after serving IU for nearly three decades.
Ryan Dorgan • IDS
After more than 40 years of teaching folklore and showing more than 100 doctoral students what he learned in his studies, IU professor Henry Glassie is retiring.

Although the 67-year-old professor will no longer be teaching, his brown eyes still light up with excitement when he explains what he learned during his travels to more than 12 countries while observing everyday people.

“All (countries) offer the same thing,” he said. “I want to make people more aware of how big the world is.”

Glassie was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Virginia. Listening to his grandmother tell stories about her past and watching his grandfather’s carpentry work fascinated Glassie at an early age.

“I was thrilled with what (my grandfather) could make,” he said. “It’s interesting to think about how people can turn plants into food and mud into pottery.”

Determined to learn how other people from around the country and the world shaped their environments, Glassie received his Ph.D. in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at IU from 1967 to 1976. He then continued his teachings at the University of Pennsylvania until 1988, after which he returned to IU, where he stayed ever since.

“IU has the best folklore department in the U.S.,” Glassie said. “It does a good job at bringing the world to IU.”

Glassie’s recent struggle with kidney failure earlier in the school year caused him to make the decision to retire. Glassie said he never went to a hospital until he experienced serious pain. Glassie’s wife, Pravina Shukla, also an IU folklore professor, recalled the horror of seeing her husband undergo the experience.

“It was the worst day of my life,” she said.

IU journalism professor Michael Evans is one of Glassie’s friends and former students. Evans recalled being concerned about Glassie’s condition but knew he would be OK in the end.

“We were quite concerned for him, but we also knew he was quite strong,” he said.

Glassie is now in stable condition, but after losing the time he could have spent traveling, he made the decision to retire from teaching in order to continue to travel and write. Glassie said if the kidney failure hadn’t happened, he would have continued to teach.

“Some of my students are already retired,” Glassie said with a chuckle.

Because Glassie never learned to type, he wrote out all of his works longhand, even a 1,000-page book, Shukla said. His devotion to his work was one characteristic that attracted her to Glassie when the couple first met in 2000 while they both taught folklore at IU.

“I owe the fact that I am a folklorist to Henry,” she said. “We’ve gone around the world together with a similar eye. Our ideas are compatible.”

Along with being a lovable husband, Evans said Glassie is very devoted to everyone around him.

“Henry is the single most important influence in my life,” he said. “I love him dearly.”

With only pens and paper, Glassie has written more than 20 books on the art, culture and architecture of many countries. He has won countless awards in his writings on Ireland, Bangladesh and Turkey. He won the Award for Superior Service by the Turkish Ministry for his book, “Turkish Traditional Art Today.”

Glassie recalls experiencing nothing but hospitality and kindness in Turkey and “amazing richness” in the culture. He was determined to break the negative stereotypes that are sometimes associated with the highly populated

Muslim country.

“Muslims were the enemy, according to the (U.S.) government,” Glassie said. “I wanted others to understand how Muslims really are.”

Glassie also broke negative stereotypes associated with Bangladesh in his book “Art and Life in Bangladesh.” The book won the Certificate of Honor from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh.

Glassie recalls feeling anger when former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called the country a “bottomless basket” in the 1970s. Glassie said he encountered lovable and happy people in Bangladesh, which makes the country wealthy in his point of view.

“What some people call ‘poor’ is rich in my mind,”

he said.

In all of his travels, Glassie discovered that countries he traveled to were not so different from one another, yet each country shaped its own uniqueness.

“People who are alike transform something to make it theirs,” he said.

Another thing that makes countries similar and different is the experiences from colonialism, Glassie said, as he noted similarities between Ireland and Bangladesh. Glassie said colonialism has a terrible history that still haunts countries today, and he dismisses all claims he said some make about the benefits of it.

“You don’t need railroads,” he said. “You need self-esteem.”

Glassie was determined to teach all of his students to be compassionate in their studies and to have the same love for different cultures as he has.

“I want my international students to know how important their own cultures are and not to be intimidated by the U.S.,” he said. “I hope my U.S. students bring back important info that the world needs.”

Glassie and Shukla plan to spend time in Nigeria, studying a famous modern painter and prince named Twins Seven-Seven. Although Glassie will no longer teach, he hopes he can learn more and write more books.

“It’s important to look at the overlooked,” he said, “look for what was left out of

the records.”

Kapildev Sewdial at Zollanvari SA Johannesburg Branch.

Zollanvari SA

Kapildev Sewdial has been appointed salesman at Zollanvari SA Johannesburg Branch.

Monday, May 12, 2008

'Semnan, Pearl of the Silk Road'

'Semnan, Pearl of the Silk Road'
Tue, 25 Dec 2007 19:56:50
Iran has published Semnan, Pearl of the Silk Road, a comprehensive book which explores the splendor of the northern historical city.

Semnan, Pearl of the Silk Road includes unique pictures of the city's historical monuments, natural landscapes and native population taken by Homayoun Amir Yeganeh.

Semnan is located at the southern foot of the Alborz mountain range and is considered to be a regional market for grain and cotton.

The city which was once located on the ancient Silk Road, is now famous for its textile, carpet and automobile industry.

Dr Azita Rajabi's 164-paged Persian and English book has been published by Gouya Art House, the famous publisher of Iranology books.

Dr. Rajabi is a professor of urban planning. Her latest work 'Morphology of the Bazaar' is a thorough study of the Persian bazaar.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Persian carpet reigns supreme

Persian carpet reigns supreme
Sun, 17 Feb 2008 14:56:44
Iran exports 83 percent of carpets woven in the country.
Producing some 40% of the carpets woven in the world, Iranian carpet weavers have obtained the first place in the global carpet industry.

“The country's carpet exports during the first 10 months of last year amounted to around $340 million and is expected to rise further thanks to better planning and provision of more support to weavers, designers and traders,” Seyyed Jalaleddin Bassam, managing director of the Iran Carpet Company said.

Some 1.2 million people are employed in the industry as weavers of carpets, kilims, jajims and other types of traditional carpeting, with another 300 thousand engaged in related activities, Bassam said.

He put the country's total carpet production at about 5.8 million square meters last year, adding that Iran exports 83 percent of carpets woven in the country.

The Persian carpet is a world of artistic magnificence nurtured for more than 2,500 years. The Iranians are known to be among the first carpet weavers of the world's ancient civilizations and through centuries of creativity have achieved a unique degree of excellence in their highly elaborate trade.

Iranian carpet market needs promotion

Iranian carpet market needs promotion
Thu, 21 Feb 2008 22:51:18
Persian carpets
Major Iranian carpet traders warn about the current situation of the country's carpet markets in Europe, seeking ways to promote sales.

In a meeting with the Managing Director of Iran Carpet Joint Stock Co. Jalaleddin Bassam in Paris, traders said high prices have overshadowed Iranian carpets elegant quality.

"Buyers prefer to purchase Pakistan's low-quality commercial carpets, which are three times cheaper than Iranian ones," IRNA quoted traders as saying.

"Iranian commercial carpet only accounts for 10-20 percent of the European carpet market," said one dealer.

Another urged government's financial support in a bid to reduce the cost of Iranian commercial carpets.

Iranian commercial carpets do not come in fashionable colors, and do not meet European consumers taste, traders added.

Bassam, however, dismissed the idea of state subsidies on carpets arguing that the act would result in unrealistic prices.

“The key to improvement of Iranian carpet sales in Europe lies within extensive promotion and advertisement in local European televisions, as well as innovative ways of producing and delivering Iranian carpets,” he concluded.

Sheikh Safi mausoleum, a Safavid art gallery

Sheikh Safi mausoleum, a Safavid art gallery
Tue, 04 Mar 2008 18:24:03
By Tamara Ebrahimpour, Press TV, Tehran
The Sheikh Safi mausoleum in Iran's Ardebil Province is one of the country's most beautiful historical and Islamic structures, which dates back to the 14th century.

The complex is the resting place of Sheikh Safi, the Safavid spiritual leader along with Shah Ismail I and a number of Safavid princes and generals.

The mausoleum is composed of a group of stunning architectural structures including Sheikh Safi's and Shah Ismail's tomb-chambers, the Chini Khaneh (china hall), the Qandil Khaneh (lantern hall) and the Haram Khaneh (Ladies Quarters).

The Allah Allah dome
Sheikh Safi's tomb-chamber is a cylindrical tower capped with a low dome, under which a large decorative medallion, made of colored staccato is attached.

The tomb-chamber's walls are covered with floral canvas curtains, which match the medallion's colorful patterns.

An exquisite wooden box, once decorated with jewelry, marks the late Sheikh Safi's grave.

Inside the Allah Allah dome
The Allah-Allah dome, which was built after Sheikh Safi's death, is tiled with beautiful azure ceramics covered with the word Allah. A row of white tiles adorns the blue background with Qur'anic verses.

The interior of the cylindrical structure is decorated with exquisite paintings.

The tomb of Shah Ismail I consists of a small rectangular room with a beautiful illuminated dome and staccato manuscripts.

Qandil Khaneh (Lantern Hall)
The dome is lower than Sheikh Safi's and decorated with colorful tiles and Kufic inscriptions.

The walls shine with golden floral patterns and splendid azure tiles, which beautifully reflect the sunlight.

The building has a number of blind arcades and alcoves decorated with priceless 11th century pottery.

Qandil Khaneh (Lantern Hall)
A wooden box decorated with finely engraved panels and delicate geometric shapes made of ivory and ebony lays atop Shah Ismail's tomb.

A background of red silk adorned with shiny turquoise brings out the color of the ivory.

Qandil Khaneh is a rectangular structure covered with polished stones and a stone lavabo in the shape of a petal.

The Ardebil Carpet
The building, which was once used as a prayer room, is adorned with register patterns and Qur'anic words written out with Persian tiles.

The eye-catching structure is named after the numerous lanterns, which were used to illuminate the complex.

Shah Tahmasb I (1524-76), the second Safavid king ordered the most famous Persian carpets, the Ardebil Carpets for Qandil Khaneh.

Chini Khaneh (China Hall)
The Qandil Khaneh carpets, the finest of their kind during the Safavid era, have been separated with one pair currently in London's Victoria and Albert Museum and the other in Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Chini Khaneh (The China Hall), a domed octagonal room with four alcoves, was originally used as a meeting hall.

Shah Abbas I refurbished the original monument and changed it into a place to store his collection of Ming and Celadon porcelains presented to him by the Chinese Emperor.

A portion of this treasury was later used to fund the country's wars the Russians took some of the remaining items to Saint Petersburg, which are now housed in the Hermitage museum, and the rest were moved to museums in Tehran.

Chini khaneh was recently turned into a Safavid museum and the porcelain collection housed in Tehran museums where returned and put on display.

Haram khaneh (Ladies Quarters)
Haram khaneh (Ladies Quarters) is the oldest part of the complex, which was built upon Sheikh Safi's order about 700 years ago.

The bodies of 10 Safavid Ladies including Sheikh Safi's sister, wife and daughters have been laid to rest in the rectangular building.

Sheikh Safi's mausoleum also includes a mosque called Jannat Sara (the house of paradise), Khanaqah (the house of Dervishes), Shahid Khaneh (the house of martyrs), and Chelleh Khaneh where dervishes used to stay during their forty-day ritual recluse.

Haram khaneh (Ladies Quarters)
Despite numerous expansions and restorations, Sheikh Safi's mausoleum still attracts numerous visitors every year.