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.