The unique local culture which differentiates one country from another is an important point of a destination’s fascination. People with rich cultural heritage are also creators of amazing traditional handicrafts and folk arts. Handicrafts are important cultural exports; they are able to add to the traveler’s experience by telling unique stories about the lesser-travelled regions around the world.
Iran is known by its gorgeous handicrafts such as Iranian carpets and tile works. You will surely be surprised with wonders in every corner of this vast country, wherever you go you will come across various local handmade products made by Iranian artisans. The cultural face of Iran is visible in many craft workshops and souvenir shops all around the country. Iran owns one of the most various handicraft collections of the world including 24 major categories and about 370 subcategories. Here are the major Iranian handicraft fields: carpet, pottery and ceramic, tile working, enameling, wooden art (inlay, marquetry, carving, lattice work), Textiles (knitting, needlework, hand-printed), glasswork, felting, metal etching, engraving, straw matting and many others.
Following is information about some of the Iran extraordinary souvenirs:
Persian carpet: The Persian carpet is the best known cultural export from Iran. The early carpet patterns were usually symmetrical with geometric and floral motifs designed to evoke the beauty of classic Persian gardens. Towards the end of the pre-Islamic period, stylized animals and human figures become more popular. People fall in love with the combination of significant symbols and the organic colors. The design and the weaving methods of these carpets differ according to the Iranian tribe.
Khatam: Khatam is an inlaid work consists of star shaped patterns producing with thin sticks of wood, brass for golden parts and camel bones for white parts. Ivory, gold or silver can also be used for collection objects. Sticks are assembled in triangular beams and glued in a strict order to create a cylinder whose cross-section is the main motif: a six-branch star included in a hexagon and then plated and glued on the object to be decorated, before lacquer finishing. In each cubic centimeter of inlaid work, up to approximately 250 pieces of metal, bone, ivory and wood are laid side by side. The city of Shiraz is the main center of producing Khatam in Iran.
Mina: The art of Minakari or Enamelling is called decoration of metal and tile with mina glaze. Mina is defined as some sort of glass like colored coat which can be stabilized by heat on different metals particularly copper. Persian Enamel handicrafts can be used as wall hanging plates, home decor and candy dishes. In the Iranian version of enameling, copper and silver are the most dominant metals used. Isfahan is the most important Iranian enameling hub. Enamel works can be washed with lukewarm water and ordinary detergents. Different kinds of local symmetrical patterns are used in Mina paintings, such as ‘Eslimi’, which is one of the well-known Islamic patterns also used in traditional architecture.
Kilim: Gilim or kilim is double sided flat-woven mat without knots. These rugs are thinner and softer than knotted carpets and rarely used as floor coverings. They are popular as prayer mats and wall hangings. Nomadic women of Iran weave a simple kind of carpet in their leisure time called Jajim (coarse). Jajim is softer and lighter than Kilim.
Termeh: Termeh is a hand woven colorful textile with special patterns mainly Persian Paisley. Weaving Termeh is a sensitive and time consuming work. Although nowadays they are not 100% handmade, a good quality Termeh can be woven maximum of 100 cm a day and since there are only a few machines for weaving Termeh, it is still an exclusive and costly kind of tablecloth. Yazd is the most famous city in this field.
Qalamkar: Qalamkar is a type of Iranian textile printing. The fabric is printed using patterned wooden stamps made of pear wood which has better flexibility and density for carving and long-standing utility. A tapestry may be stamped depending on its density and size, between hundreds or thousands of times
Qalamzani: Engraving known as Qalamzani in Iran is the art of carving superb designs on various metals such as copper, brass, silver and gold. Persian Metalwork Engraving is perhaps the most continuous and best-documented artistic medium from Iran in the Islamic period. The city of Isfahan is the main center for engraving in Iran.
Monabat: Monabat or wood carving is another Iranian marquetry. Designs used in this art are often included Arabesque, Cathay and human and animal figures. Wood marquetry is used to create doors decoration, Quran rack, and desk and also wooden sculptured.
Persian Miniature Painting: Miniature is a detailed painting which depicts Iranian religious or mythological themes. This level of detail can only be achieved with a very fine hand and an extremely small brush. The art of miniature painting in Persia is mostly related to subjects include hunting scenes, couples in traditional dress and polo matches. Many of these paintings are quite small, but they feature rich, complex scenes which can occupy a viewer for hours. Kamal-o-din Behzad, Reza Abbasi, Hossein Behzad and Mahmud Farshchian are of the important Persian miniaturists from Isfahan.
Ceramic and pottery: The first excavated ceramic objects belonging to 10 to 12 thousand years ago were explored in Zagros mountain range in Iran that indicate a long history. Archeological studies in Iran have shown that Iranian pottery has a history as old as 8,000 years. One of the most important characteristics of the pottery and ceramics in different regions of Iran is “the expressive and beautiful decorations” on them. These decorations in different parts of Iran are completely compatible with the people’s belief, culture and climate of those areas. The color and quality of Iranian tiles and ceramics are so unique that they have resisted hard climatic and erosive conditions of Iran for centuries. Lalejin in Hamedan is the hub in this field.
Iranian Tile working: During the Islamic periods, the art of enameled brick making was used through new applications along with new designs and various methods as golden colored and seven colored inlaid works (called Moarragh in Persian). Everywhere you go in Iran you will see multi-colored tiles coating the walls, domes and minarets of mosques, and decorating the edges of every kind of buildings. The tiled domes of Iranian mosques are likely to remain one of your lasting memories of Iran. The art of Persian tile production dates back to the Elimate period. However, the real glory period for the tile-makers came during the Safavid period and especially in the 16th century.
Writing and calligraphy: Calligraphy has been one of the most revered arts throughout Persian history. It is considered to be one of the most eye catching and fascinating manifestations of Persian culture. These beautiful handwritings have been preserved in the form of about 15,000 copies of the Holy Qoran and many other poems that blend together the art of painting and writing. Iranian Calligraphic Styles, such as Taliq, Nastaliq, Naskh, Kufic, Thulth, Shekasteh and stands proud as charming among those of every other nation.
Pateh: Pateh duzi is one of the traditional arts of Kerman. The women of this region use colorful threads on a wide piece of cloth and decorate it with beautiful designs to make this magnificent handicraft.
Iran tour center offers Iran handicraft tours and also day tours for observing the whole handmade manufacturing process in its traditional form and meeting professional Iranian artisans. Contact us if you love to learn more about Iranian traditional crafts. You can buy original handicrafts of Iran from these masters during your tour. Online websites are another way to buy Iranian handicrafts.