Friday, July 18, 2008

Gilan Mat Weaving On the Decline

Gilan Mat Weaving
On the Decline

The art of mat weaving has enriched the cultural identity of Gilan province. Handed down from generations to generations, it is on the decline largely because of huge handicraft imports in recent years.
Until a few decades, mats were used to cover floors, walls, windows and ceilings of houses in Gilan province. In addition to being beautiful decorations, mats helped absorb humidity as well, Mehr News Agency reported.

Thriving Past
’Abkenar’ mat, woven by women, was very popular in Gilan in the not too distant past. Mats were used in almost all houses in the northern province and housewives washed them twice a year: at the beginning of spring and fall.
In the past, many women of Gilan made mats in addition to their daily housework for earning extra money.
History books recall that the art of mat weaving flourished in Anzali to an extent that one of the famous mat merchants in Ghazian had men and women from 150 families weaving mats for him. However, following improvement in standards of living, mats were gradually replaced by machine-made carpets. Consequently, mat-weavers chose to weave hats and baskets instead of floor coverings and handicrafts.
Officials also did not do much to improve the situation and handmade mats are on the verge of becoming a thing of the past.

Harmful Imports
A handicraft merchant in Rasht, Mohammad Hosseini, lamented the fact that at present, rarely anybody wants to buy mats and those who are interested mats cannot find them.
Only a few mat-weavers are alive. Today, people prefer luxurious synthetic materials and as far as mat handicrafts are involved they prefer only hats and baskets.
He emphasized that since the youth do not slow any interest in learning the art of mat weaving, there are not many who know this art.
A mat-weaver, Morteza Tajaddod, said, “Everything is a function of the law of supply and demand. When there are no customers and nobody supports us, we cannot continue. Until a few years ago, a significant number of mat-weavers in Gilan produced baskets and hats. However, following the unfettered import of Chinese handicrafts and decline in demand, the number of mat-weavers also decreased.

Tajaddod stressed that the art of mat weaving should be preserved by teaching it to the youth.
Another mat-weaver, Fatemeh Rajabi said, “I learned this art from my mother. Mats were mostly used as floor coverings and weaving mat baskets and hats was a secondary consideration. Since in recent years there was not much demand for mat floor coverings, I focused on weaving baskets, hats and silverware covers, and weave floor coverings when I receive an order.
She noted that mats are also used as a covering for the trunk of automobiles and tables.

A resident of one of the villages of Bijar, Safar Moradi, said, “Mat weaving is an art that could fill the leisure time of women, but at present it’s neglected.“
He cited the spread of automation and technological advances as the main reasons for the youth’s lack of interest in learning the art of mat weaving.
“In order to revive this handicraft, the production and sale of mats should be facilitated so that the youth see more incentives in learning mat weaving,“ he said.
Another handicraft expert maintained that even if mat weaving is on the decline, officials are obliged to adopt policies to preserve this art.
Maryam Tavallaei added that public awareness, supporting producers and holding exhibitions can help revive the art of mat weaving.

Portuguese Appreciate ’Flying Carpet’

Portuguese Appreciate ’Flying Carpet’
Iranian hand-woven carpets
The documentary ’Flying Carpet’ was warmly welcomed by the Portuguese audience in its recent screening in Iran’s Cultural Center in Lisbon.
A joint production of Iran and Portugal, the documentary is themed on Persian hand-woven carpet.
Speaking at the event, Iranian Ambassador to Portugal, Rasoul Sahabi said, “The film is an influential and unique work about the Persian carpet.“
He expressed hope that Persian rugs will gain their due status after an international debut of the documentary, Fars News Agency reported.
The film’s director Juan Mario Girlo, head of Portugal Directors’ Society, and Houman Atyabi, the film’s producer also spoke at the event.
Commenting on the production process, Atyabi said, “The documentary was produced in four stages. We conducted research in the first two stages which began in 2006 in Shiraz, Isfahan, Kashan and Tehran.“
He added that a Portuguese team undertook the third stage in that country, while the final stage, which dealt with the connection between carpet designs and psychology, was completed in Sigmund Freud’s house in London. Freud was an Austrian physician who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology.
“The final section also features the connection between Persian carpet and western culture,“ he further said.
Atyabi pointed out that the film’s main feature is that is looks at Iranian carpet form a western perspective and successfully interacts with the foreign audience.
Commenting on technical aspects of the film, he said, “We also sought the views of experts of hand-woven carpet, and hope the film would serve as a reference in the history of Iran’s carpet.“
Persian carpet is not just a handicraft, however, it is a unique art which should be dealt with at an international level, he concluded.

Tourist Town Planned in Sanandaj Senneh Rugs

Tourist Town Planned in Sanandaj
An official from Kurdestan province has announced that a tourist town will be established in Sarab Qamish village, near the provincial capital of Sanandaj.
Sanandaj Governor Mohammad Taqi Heidari said that the plan was approved by deputy head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) last year and should now be followed up by provincial officials, reported IRNA.
He said that with the development of tourism infrastructures in the province, the number of foreign and local tourists to the area has increased. It has become essential to have a tourist town in the area, he added.
Heidari described the lack of hotels and recreational centers as among the problems in the development of the province’s tourism infrastructure.
Sarab-Qamish village is located 15 kilometers south of Sanandaj. Sanandaj or Senna is the capital of the Iranian province of Kurdistan.
As in most other parts of Iran, carpet weaving is one of the most significant handicrafts of the region, especially in Bijar and Sanandaj.
Shawl, kilim and jajim weaving, woodwork and jewelry and ornaments are among the other main handicrafts of this province.
The unique art of creating backgammon boards from walnut wood of up to 1,000 years old, mostly grown wild in small valleys high up in the Zagros mountains is also special to the area.

Persian Carpet Attracts Jaipur Visitors

Persian Carpet Attracts
Jaipur Visitors
A magnificent 376-year-old Persian garden carpet is featured in the Durbar Hall of stately Albert Hall Museum, the oldest in Jaipur in India’s Rajasthan state , reported.
The carpet, a center of attraction, has been kept locked for visitors for many years. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje re-opened the museum on July 1 following its closure for renovation since April 2007.
One of India’s finest art treasures, the carpet was deteriorating due to biotic pressure. However, now the Department of Archaeology and Museums will cover the carpet, made at Kerman in Persia in 1632, with a polycarbonate compact sheet.

“The sheet cover will not only make it possible for tourists to have a close look at the carpet but also secure the carpet’s sheen at the same time,“ director of the department, B.L. Gupta said.
The carpet portrays the garden of paradise with running water streams on a quadrangular design. Mirza Raja Jai Singh I bought the carpet at a dear price from Safavid king, Shah Abbas of Persia in between 1647 to 1650. After it was brought in the museum, the carpet has been displayed only twice or thrice, said the officials. Besides, the Albert Hall museum has a collection of 16 other ancient era carpets.
Of the total 60 million rupees renovation budget, a handsome amount was spent on installing international level lighting system which would give unprecedented ambience to the artifacts, said Gupta.
“This lighting system gives a particular grace to artifacts which they earlier lacked,“ he said. The museum carries few new features: CCTV cameras, fire detector glass break sensor, iron railing surrounding the museum, and private security guards.
In the new sequence in the museum, the ground floor will display an Egyptian mummy that belongs to the Ptolemaic era, ancient toys and dolls, and paintings. On the first floor, display items include arms and weapons of different rulers, textiles, carpets, metal and wood crafts, pottery, and items related to flora and fauna.
Plaques carrying details of every artifact have been placed making it easy for the tourists to know the history of the items. Colonel Sir Swinton Jacob had designed the museum in 1876 to greet King Edward VII as Prince of Wales on his visit to India. It was opened to the public ten years later.