The Selected Handicrafts of Iran
One of the traditions of Ancient Persia is handicrafts, which are preserved in the culture of the nation and passed on from generation to generation. Today handmade products are highly regarded outside Iran as a unique art. Popular ways of Iranian handicraft are true masterpieces, and each of them has its own history. Art is a fine industry in Iran and is famous for its unique handicrafts. There are presently nine million Iranians, involved in the production of handicrafts and other rural industries like Persian carpets, Kilim & Jajim, hand–made and hand-painted glassware and ceramics, pottery items and jewellery making. Popular souvenirs to buy while visiting Iran are listed below.
Mamqan Embroidery (Mamaqan Doozi) is a branch of embroidery conducted in East Azarbaijan Province of Iran using colorful khameh (a type of silky thread) and needlework on a piece of cloth. The patterns are mostly abstract and inspired by the artists’ personal perceptions and insights regarding nature, many of which include figurative flowers and plants. An ordinary 4-cm needle and a thimble are the only tools used by embroider to create the most novel designs on cloth and produce elegant and useful works of art.
Toreutics (engraving on metal) refers to artistic metalworking – hammering gold or silver (or other materials), engraving, or using repoussé and chasing to form minute detailed reliefs or small engraved patterns.
Direct Heat Glassblowing
Direct Heat Glassblowing is a branch of glassblowing that is made by attaching several pre-made glass tubes or bars, shaped by a direct heat gas poker. The final product can be statue, kitchen utensil, kettle, etc.
Jajim is a handwoven rug that is thick and has no lint, made of wool and cotton with long wrapping and stripped and colorful pattern. Jajim is woven by weaving machine, brush and reel and is used for ground cloth, mat, etc.
Filigree is a form of intricate metalwork, popular in Zanjan and Isfahan. It may span from delicate jewelry to cast iron railings and balustrades. In jewelry, it is usually an ornamental work of fine wire of gold, silver, or copper applied chiefly to gold and silver surfaces, made with tiny beads or twisted threads, or both in combination, soldered together or to the surface of an object of the same metal and arranged in artistic motifs. Common motifs include Paisley, Rizeh Jeqe, Barg-e Farang, leaf, bosom, ivy, double ivy, triple spring, etc.
Woodturning refers to the act of shaping wood using horizontal wood scraping rotational machine to build products like sofa legs, bowl, plate, etc. A woodturning artist is a person who is able and skilled in regulating the woodturning machine, selecting the appropriate wood, and shaping and finishing the wood.
Chadorshab is a beautiful and colorful cloth, weaved in Mazandaran, Gilan, and Khorasan Provinces of Iran, which local women wear it on their waist. In past, Chadorshab was used as coverlet or for packing quilts, blankets and pillows and the name “Chadorshab”, meaning the “cover of night” is also taken from this traditional usage. The patterns are geometrical and the cloth is usually waved from silk or colored wool.
Velvet is one of the most exquisite hand-made fabrics in Iran, which had been popular in Kashan, Yazd, Tabriz and Mashhad. Velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive soft feel. Velvet can be made from either synthetic or natural fiber like silk, cotton, etc. there are two types of velvet fabric: simple and protuberant. Traditional designs are used to decorate this hand-made cloth.
Firoozeh-Koobi (Turquoise-ramming) is a stone handicraft field that is conducted by inlaying small pieces of turquoise in a mosaic pattern on utensils, jewelry, decorative items, etc. A special type of dark-colored lacquer is used between the turquoise pieces. The lesser the space between the turquoise pieces, the quality is higher. This art is popular in Isfahan.
Vitreous Enamel (enamel painting) refers to the art of painting copper items using glazed colors. The color is stabilized by baking the item. Enamel painting is popular in Isfahan. Vitreous enamel is a handicraft art and the artist must be skilled in painting Iranian and Islamic designs, geometric patterns, Xatay designs, animal and flora designs, etc. on copper items. The artist must be able to glaze paint, bake the items, finish the works, etc.
Glass Enamel refers to the technique of painting on glass bodies using brushes and enamel glazes. In order to stabilize the glazes and paints, the final work must be baked in 350 to 550°C. A glass painter is a person who has artistic taste and can recognize glass glazes, combine different solvents, use brushes for designing and painting, and regulate the furnace to bake the products.
Leather Carving (Engraving) is the traditional art of carving and designing various patterns on leather. A leather carver is a person who is skilled in designing and copying various designs, patterning, selecting the appropriate leather, transferring the design, using carving tools, carving on leather, decorating the design and making various products from the carved leather.
Wheat Stalk Muharaq
Wheat Stalk Muharaq (burning) includes cutting moist wheat stalks, heating them to change their color and form, and pasting them on a special background. An artist in this field must be competent in providing and providing what stalk, cutting them, dyeing them, pasting the background cloth, heating, creating embossed patterns, etc.
Cutting and making various items like necklace, bracelet, tableau, frame, etc. from various seashells. Seashell artist must be familiar with seashell and cutting it to create decorative and practical items.
Glass Cutting using small electromotor that rotate a disk and the artist can cut the glass by special stones. The speed of the cutting disks is regulated according to the type of cut and the deeper the required cut is, the higher speed would be needed.
Namadmali (making felt) refers to the process of making a cloth that is produced completely natural by rubbing wool along with water and soap. As a result, the small fibers of the wool are woven together.
Zomood-gari refers to a part of products made by traditional blacksmiths and includes door and window fittings. In other words, Zomood-gari is the profession of making metal fittings for traditional doors and windows. The most common material for Zomood-gari is iron.
Cutting precious stones and semi-precious stones (lapidary) is a practical handicraft in Iran. Precious stones and semi-precious stones refer to some stones such as Jade, Amatis, Agate, Turquoise, Emerald, etc. These stones are cut using a special electric machine. After polishing the stone, it is set on golden or silver pedals to be used as ring, earring, necklace, etc. Some artist cut the stones to be used in utensils, decorative items
The art of weaving willow twigs (called Arghavan or Tarakeh in Persian) is a handicraft profession in Iran. The artists uses small and thin twigs called Morvar and weave them together to create baskets, utensils, trays, etc. the hubs for this art have been Gilan, Hamedan, Isfahan, Khuzestan, and Sistan and Baloochestan.
Chogha is a long, sleeveless coat made of wool, worn by nomads and shepherds on their clothes like a cloak. Chogha is mostly in black and white, and Chogha-weaving is a handicraft art in Khuzestan Province.
Making copper utensils is the traditional art of making everyday tools and utensils by hammering copper plates or ingots. The artist is a person who is able to create copper utensils and tools by hammering.
Handy Pottery refers to a field of pottery made without using any rotatory machine or other moving devices. This type of pottery is made by pinching, coiling and slabbing. After shaping the clay, it is baked in 800 °C to reach a reasonable durability.
Sekeh-doozi (Coin Sewing) refers to the art of decorating fabrics using coins and other decorative items such as spangles, beads, mirror pieces, button, etc. The fabric is then used as a cover for home furniture such as mirror frame and other decorative furniture. This traditional art is specific to Baloochestan region.
Tile Making is an art related to the traditional tile-work of Iran. Clay adobes are dried and baked in furnace to create the raw body of a tile. Then the body is glazed and re-baked. This type of tile is has several applications by traditional tiles workers.
Ahrami-baafi (weaving Sajadeh, a kind of praying cloth) is the art of weaving a kilim-like fabric using wool and cotton threads by a traditional weaving machine. The final product is usually 70´90cm, but its length can also be up to 3 meters.
Producing leather products and decorating them using various methods including saddlery, burning, mosaic, painting, etc. is a traditional handicraft in Iran. An artist in this area must be skilled in working with leather and shape it into various products.
Shiriki Pich is the local name for Handmade Kilims of Sirjan and Baft in Kerman Province that is hand woven and offers a good balance of durability and beauty. Due to the precise construction techniques used by the artists, kilims can last for years to be produced. The material used is natural wool that make this kind of rugs not only so soft and comfortable but also valuable.
Soozan-doozi (Needlework) refers to the art of sewing some specific patterns and designs on fabrics with countable wraps and wefts. The patterns and designs are specific to Sistan and Baloochestan region.
Mashteh-bafi (Shawl Weaving) refers to the act of weaving a type of simple or colored shawl of natural dyed wool by a special weaving machine. The final product is worn around head or waist during some ceremonies.
Ajideh-doozi (sewing a special type of fabric) is a traditional Iranian weaving method where a layer of cotton is sewed between two layers of cloth and then the outer layer is decorated with embroidery. This traditional art is also called Cotton Sewing or Layer Sewing. The common designs on Ajideh fabrics are geometrical patterns, golo morgh, paisley, toranj, moharamati, etc. The final product can be uses as pillow cover, clothes, shoes, hat, quilt, kitchenware, etc.
Glazed Pottery refers to a field of handicrafts that is shaped by clay or other mixed muds using hand, pottery wheel or slushing and baked in 800°C after they are dried. The resulted pottery is then glazed and re-baked in 900°C to 1100°C to create a glassy and permanent glaze on it.
Batik is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth. Batik is made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called a tjanting, or by printing the resist with a copper stamp called a cap.
Elaborated Woodwork refers to the production of elegant and delicate wooden products using thin wooden coating that is usually taken from nutty and unusable parts of the lumber.
Instrument Making is the art of making and decorating Iranian traditional music instruments (Ood, Dotar, Setar, Dohol, Kamanche, etc.) using walnut wood, areca palm wood, and other material. Instruments such as string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments are made by this technique.
Kilim Weaving is the art of wrapping and weaving different types of Kilim using natural, colorful fibers as well as repairing the weaved Kilims. Kilim is a flat tapestry-woven carpet or rug can be purely decorative or can function as prayer rugs. Modern kilims are popular floor coverings in Western households.
Woodcarving refers to wood carved according to mostly traditional patterns (Islamic, Xetay) using simple tools (cave, wedge, knife). The designs are mostly protuberant and solid. Generally, woodcarving refers to the art of carving and engraving various designs on wood.
Saddlery (hand-made leatherwork) refers to the traditional art of cutting and sewing leather in order to produce leather bags, shoes, belts, etc. A saddler is a person who is skilled in recognizing various types of leather, cutting methods, and sewing leather pieces
Shaar refers to a type of cloth made of silk. This cloth is weaved by a special textile machine. The cloth is weaved in two methods: simple and stripped. There is no specific design for the cloth and it is weaved in purple, red, black, yellow, green, etc. in two meter long pieces. The cloth is used for men and women wears. This type of traditional art is popular in Kashan, Yazd and Isfahan.
Kalamkari is a type of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile, produced in Isfahan using wooden or metallic clocks. Only natural dyes are used in Kalamkari and it involves twenty-three steps and vaporing is applied to stabilize the color.
Painting on leather
Painting on leather refers to the traditional painting and sketching on leather products using herbal and durable paints. The final layer is gloss to insulate the work. Painting on leather is a handicraft art that require skills like sketching different designs, leather stretching, transferring the design, stenciling, painting different designs, varnishing, and finishing.
Traditional Jewelry is produced using metallic wires made of gold, silver and copper to create traditional designs by intertwining, welding and soldering the pieces together. Most of the designs are local and traditional.
Under-glaze Painting refers to the act of painting and decorating clay pots that have baked and glazed once. After painting, the pot is glazed and baked for the second time. An under-glaze painter is a person who is skilled in creating the substructure (the first glaze), baking, painting on the glaze and re-baking the item.
Mat Weaving (mat plaiting) refers to the weaving of plant (cellulose) fibers by hand and simple tools to create products like ground cloth, table cloth, baskets, utensils, etc. This traditional art include weaving other materials, too (such as bamboo, Morvar, wand, etc.). Chigh Weaving is also a subset of mat weaving where wool threads are also used along with the plant fibers to create traditional designs and patterns.
Making mat products using Chiq technique for mat and winding colored fibers taken from animal wool (goat and sheep) around them is called Chiqbafi.
Glassblowing is a traditional glassforming technique that involves inflating molten glass (1260°C) into a bubble with the aid of a blowpipe and simple tools like scissors, pliers, etc. Then the glass is put in Garmkhaneh (warm room) for 24 hours to cool down slowly. A skillful glassblower can shape the items without using any cast or
Glass Fusing refers to the skill of cutting colored glasses and fusing them to other pieces of glass, without using any glue. The glass is put in electric furnace till the film of the pieces is loosen and fused together. Then the product is cooled and installed in place.
Traditional Padlock Making
This art major refers to making various types of padlocks (mostly traditional ones with special appearances) using iron or copper by hand and smithery tools.
Lithography (stone carving) is the art of carving different designs on stone and cutting it to use in architecture and making various items. In Persian it is called “stone cutting” and refers to any work on stone.
Silk Weaving refers to the skill of weaving thin silk fabrics using raw or un-colored silk by a special traditional weaving machine. Silk weaver is a person who can recognize raw silk, dyeing the threads, wrapping, and weaving simple silk fabrics
Towel Weaving is one of the traditional handicrafts in Iran. The ingredients include cotton or silk threads colored using herbal dyes. The practical products for this fabric include towel, scarf, shawl, dress, etc. Towel Weaving has been popular in Khorasan.
Charoogh Weaving refers to the art of weaving special footwear that is mostly made of leather. The footwear has special lashes, twisted around the shin. Chnaroogh is one of North Khorasan Handicrafts and is mostly weaved in Qoochan.
Kapoo is a handicraft common in south of Iran and made of palm leaves. Kapoo Weaving refers to making straw baskets using palm leaves and decorating them with colorful woolen threads geometric patterns. In some cases, the whole straw texture is covered by woolen threads and a tassel is added to the lid to make it more beautiful and more convenient to use. Kapoo baskets can be used for many everyday usages and is made in Khuzestan province, especially Dezfool City.
Over-glaze painting refers to the art of painting traditional patterns on clay pottery. The painting is done after the clay is baked and glazed. After painting, the product is glazed and baked for the second time
Khamak-doozi (Khamak Sewing) is the local name Sistan & Baloochestan people give this traditional art. Khamak-doozi refers to the sewing of traditional patterns using raw silk threads (undyed and unspun) on fabrics with countable wrap and weft.
Khātam is an ancient Persian technique of inlaying mostly popular in Isfahan and Fars Provinces. It is a version of marquetry where art forms are made by decorating the surface of wooden articles with delicate pieces of wood, bone and metal precisely-cut intricate geometric patterns. Khatam-kari refers to the art of crafting a khatam. Common materials used in the construction of inlaid articles are gold, silver, brass, aluminum and twisted wire.
Wooden Girih Tiles are a result of connecting colored wooden pieces together that have special geometric angles to create different shapes and volumes. The pieces are connected by tongue and groove and create bigger geometric designs.
Giveh (a traditional footwear) is a kind of soft, comfortable, durable and handmade shoe that is common in several parts of Iran and is made of silk and leather. This traditional shoe is mostly used during the warm seasons.
Pateh Doozi (Pateh Weaving) is a kind of traditional sewing conducted in Kerman Province and uses woolen threads on woolen fabrics to create traditional patterns and designs. The final product can be used as tablecloth, pillow cover, etc.
Metkazin is a handmade fabric weaved of wool, cotton or silk and all the designs and patterns are conducted on wefts (wraps cannot be seen on the fabric). Wraps are made of white cotton threads and wefts are made of colored woolen threads. Metkazin patterns are mostly geometric patterns.
Rotatory Pottery refers to a type of pottery products that are made by pottery wheel (electrical or mechanical). The final products are clay utensils and geometric volumes.
Varsho refers to the act of making and decorating a composite metal called Varsho (20% Nickle, 35% Zinc, 45% Copper) to create priducts like samovar, tray, pot, etc. Varsho maker is a person who is able and skilled in making and decorating Varsho.
Ziloo-bafi (Ziloo Weaving) is the traditional craft of producing a type of ground cloth that was weaved from wool and cotton in past. Today however, the cloth is weaved from cotton threads and is mostly used in two colors. The hot hub for producing Ziloo is Yazd City (Meybod, Ashkezar, Kharanaq).