Fars nomads weaving their way out of poverty
These days, nomad women in the Fars region tie knots on warps in an attempt to solve financial problems in their lives.
They weave carpets to earn a living. While in the not too distant past, they used to weave carpets to flaunt their art and abilities.
In mid November, UNESCO registered the traditional skills of carpet weaving in the Fars region on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
However, the weavers do not receive serious support from any governmental organization.
“Each weaver can only weave 1-1.5 meter per month for a payment of 400,000-500,000 rials (about $40-50),” Fars carpet expert Behnam Mohammadi told the Persian service of CHN on Saturday.
“Wholesalers purchase carpets from the weavers for a low price, then sell them to businessmen for a much higher price,” he added.
In addition, businessmen hire employees to work as their representatives in the region and provide the weavers with the favorite designs the businessmen are looking for, he explained.
The weavers are paid low wages and sometimes, they can’t even get that, he lamented
He said that the Ministry of Commerce and the Iran National Carpet Center are responsible for supporting the weavers.
However, a center for organizing the weavers has yet to be established, he noted.
The traditional skills of carpet weaving in the Fars region is mostly related to the Qashqai nomads. All tasks involved in weaving a carpet are shared by nomadic men and women and all materials used in weaving are also made and processed by them.
Wool for the carpets is shorn by men in spring or autumn. The men then construct the carpet loom -- a horizontal frame placed on the ground -- while the women convert the wool into yarn on spinning wheels.
The colors used are mainly natural -- reds, blues, browns and whites produced from dyestuffs including madder, indigo, lettuce leaf, walnut skin, cherry stem and pomegranate skin.
The women are responsible for the design, color selection and weaving, and bring scenes of their nomadic lives to the carpet. They weave carpets without referring to a written design plan, so no two carpets woven by a weaver come out alike.
All these skills are transferred orally and by example. Mothers train their daughters to use the materials, tools and skills, while fathers train their sons in shearing wool and making looms.
Due the weavers’ limited funds for acquiring the resources necessary for weaving, certain institutes have been set up to provide raw materials, which unfortunately, lack basic standards.
“These institutes do not possess the requisite commitment to produce Iranian carpets… so they compromise the authenticity of this form of traditional artwork,” Fars carpet expert Gholamreza Heidari said.
Photo: Qashqai women weave a carpet in a tent in the Sadeh Eqlid region of Fars Province on September 5, 2010. (Mehr/Es’haq Aqaii)