EghtesadOnline: Tehran sold $126 million worth of Persian rugs to the American market last year, but the new US sanctions on Iran have targeted the hand-woven carpets.
But the beautiful rugs are more than just a commodity; they are recognized around the world as a form of art and are part of Iran’s cultural identity.
Weavers say the sanctions are not just an attempt to block an important revenue stream, but also an attack on Iranian culture, Al Jazeera reported.
In Iran, there is a saying: “Carpet weavers sacrifice their eyes for people’s feet.”
Making even the smallest carpet means patiently toiling for months using tools and techniques that have passed down for generations, Financial Tribune reported.
“This is what my parents did and my grandparents were doing so I learned from them and now I’m in this career. I love this art but I’m not weaving. I feel like as if I’m sick. The carpet is just like a child to me. I love it because this is an original Persian art form,” said Haideh Shokri, a carpet weaver.
The women in the workshop Shokri is employed are artist employees. They take classes to learn the basics and practice for months. The best students get to work on the most intricate designs but there is something sad about this job.
The closer these women get to completing a carpet, the less able they are to actually afford one of their creations. Persian rigs sell for thousands of dollars and some of the carpets made in this very workshop sold for tens of thousands.
And depending on the detail and materials used such as silk or even strings spun from gold, a Persian rug can sell for millions. It’s no wonder then that in the business world, carpets are a valuable Iranian export, second only to oil.
But they’re also an important part of Iran’s cultural identity. In the 2011 Farsi-language film ‘Gold and Copper’, the dying woman weaves carpets to pay for medicine and keep her family together. The script writer says Persian carpet was the engine driving the story.
“Iranian and global audiences recognize the Iranian carpet as a piece of art. It has been a little painful for me that the price of Iranian carpet has risen a lot and now it’s unaffordable to everyone. In the past, it was common for people to cover every corner of their houses in carpets,” said Hamed Mohammadi, screenwriter.
An especially sad irony for carpet dealers is that United States is their largest market.
“America has put sanctions on Iranian carpets but if you look at American buildings and family homes, you see Iranian carpets on the floor. As I saw on a video, even US President Donald Trump’s daughter has an Iranian carpet in her room,” said Nahid Hosseini, a carpet trader.
Traditionally, Persian carpets are meant to portray the gardens of heaven. Iranians say the latest sanctions are an attack on the very fabric of Iranian identity and an attempt by America to make trouble in paradise.