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Felt Iran 9

I have come to the end of my small articles about felt and Iran. I haven’t found much which I already expected but I was always enthusiastic when seeing some felt in Iran. I decided to go back to Iran in 2008 and make it a felt journey. A few friends were making contacts in certain regions for me. Alas, due to circumstances I couldn’t go in 2008 but I am still planning another voyage. Irano doost daram (I love Iran)

Melina and Dodd Raissnia, who is Iranian from birth, opened a workshop in Teheran for their felted rugs. They were really successful but had to close the workshop, because of USA sanctions for Iran Made products. It is such a pity that politics get in the way if people try to encourage and help other people abroad. 

In Teheran near the busstation, Masjnoe and I met an old man carrying a Halladji with him. A Halladji is a carding bow, a long wooden stick with a cord that vibrates when the body is gently beaten with a wooden mallet. We sat down and chatted with him. He was one of the latest carders in the south of Teheran (the poorest part of Teheran), were some people still have mattresses, filled with wool. The wool in the mattress needs to be carded at least once a year otherwise it looses its lightness and starts to felt. Due to modern mattresses it was difficult for him to earn his money and carding was the only thing he learned. People in Iran don’t have any pension whatsoever and many poor people have to work until their old age. The funny thing was, when I told him I am a felter he said: `O yes I can sée you are felter`, which made us all three shout with laughter.

But my point is this; felting in former days was a poor men´s job. Lots of people were needed to felt large pieces and prices for wool and craftsmanship were very low. Workspaces were terribly poor: a shed with no heating, light from only a window or a door so in wintertime felting was impossible because of freezing temperatures, the water would freeze and doors or windows had to be closed, so daylight was tempered. No wonder this craft vanished under such circumstances. Youngsters are not interested anymore to work in these poor conditions.

In the book about Iranian´s woolcraft I bought in Teheran´s Carpet Museum, one can read:

When I asked the feltmaster, dear father, are you satisfied about your work, he was about to explode and answered in clear Kurdish, `My Child, you better become a beggar then doing this kind of job`. - --

This book is from 1984. Father´s didn’t always encourage their sons to become a felter, something I can understand considering the circumstances.

Felting in the Western world, compared to what has been felting in Iran, is a luxury. I already noticed in my conversations with Iranians about felt, felting is associated with poverty, low esteem and nomadic lifestyle.

One beautiful evening in Shiraz, in Hafez´ teagarden, Helen and I met some youngsters from a village near Shiraz who told us in their village still was a felt workshop. It was Thursday evening and the next day Friday, (a free day like our Sundays the workshop would be closed) we would travel further. Everything was arranged for our travel to Yazd and Kerman. I promised myself to visit this village the next time I would go to Iran, because after Yazd and Kerman we would fly back to our homes…………..to return to Iran again.

I would like to thank Masjnoe and Helen for travelling with me. The large family Abdoli, family Borhani, family Fourouzandeh for their wonderful hospitality, their kindness, their delicious food, good advices and above all their laughter and stories. And special thanks to Masjnoe´s mother and Helen´s grandmother. I learned a lot from all these people.
Irano doost daram.

Gepubliceerd op: 20-02-2011

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