Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Hi guys. I've been looking at the ancient history, usage and myths behind Persian flatweaves and thought I'd share some cliffnotes on what I've found. I hope you fnd this as interesting as I did.

First off these seem to be the main periods of progressive civilization within persia;

First true Iranian civilization; Elamites 4000 years ago. Their land encompassed
Khuzestan, Lorestan, Bakhtiari. Western iran
Overthrew the Sumerians and eventually fell to the Assyrians.

Achaemenid empire (530-330 bc)
Parthians rose to succeed Archaemenians rruling for five hundred years (250 bc-224 ad)
Safavid empire (1501-1732)

600 AD arab conquest of Iran leads to westerners becoming more integrated into Iranian culture.

Now here are some interesting bits of information I've come across. Frankly I'm astounded in places as some of the evidence of weaving in their civilization dates back as far as stonehenge.

In myth and ancient culture
Mashyak and Mashyanak equivalent to adam and eve in Persian creation myth are the first humans in legend. Created Clothing by spinning thread made from their own hair.
In ancient Persian culture the ability to to sew and weave is considered a sign of refinement and of being cultured and civilized. Ancient Mythological Demons shown as barbaric and unrefined by their ignorance of these skills.
King Jamshid in Persian myth is responsible for bringing fire, smelting, spinning, weaving and sewing techniques to his people which gives a good comparison point for the cultural value placed on these skills.
The importance of these skills is highlighted by their depiction in other ancient art forms of the era, for example Reliefs found in Persepolis show Yarn and textiles being presented as gifts in the fifth century BC.
Persepolis relief 5th century BC

There is evidence that it was considered a noble art form as there are figures presented on an Elamite stone relief dating back to the first millennium BC showing female royalty working on spinning thread this again shows evidence of the cultural importance of the craft. A form of this is still present in Nomadic tribes as the wives of tribal leaders still practice weaving, This can be argued to show the importance of such traditional practices as it has lasted for millennia.
Early examples
Female Royalty shown spinning, Khuzestan, First Millenium BC

Very early examples of fabrics have been uncovered in Kurdestan From between 6000 and 5000 BC
Evidence has been uncovered from the Elamite Era that dates back to 3000 BC.

Iranian Textiles expert Parviz Tanavoli argues that while early Achaemenian Flatweaves were probably more commonly used as horsecloths their very existence hints that Persians would have used the same techniques to create decorative floor coverings.

Early Pazyryk wool tapestry, 5th to 4th Century BC


Gelim rugs are more lightweight and are more generally used by Persia’s nomadic tribes for the sake of practicality.
During periods of migration Nomadic tribes will use these Gelims to wrap up bedrolls for easy lightweight transportation and tents.
This is in direct contrast to the heavier pile rugs called qali which are mainly used to decorate buildings such as mosques and permanent homes.

Nomadic Tribe makeshift tent from floor covering Gelim.

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