Handicrafts are a part of cultural heritage and symbol of people’s lives and tourists pay attention to them as the final part of their trip. Luckily, because of traditional life style in Kurdistan and lack of industrial domination, handicrafts are still prominent throughout the province so that Kurdistan carpet and rug as well as wood delicate works such as backgammon and chess are famous in the world. Most of travelers purchase these handicrafts as gifts.
The most important handicrafts of Kurdistan are:
Kurdistan Carpet and Rug (Kilim):
Kurdistan has got two active regions in carpet weaving, Sanandaj and Bijar.
Sanandaj carpets are of thick weft, nowadays any kind of wefts are used. The carpet looms are vertical and fixed. Numbers of wates in old Sanandaj carpets are between 15 and maximum 25. However higher numbers of wates have been observed in valuable and unique carpets. Nowadays, Sanandaj carpets have 25 to 35 wates.
One of Sanandaj carpets features is short piles and polishing and cutting them are done at the time of weaving. Although asymmetric ties is known as “Persian Knot” or “Sna Knot” (the old name of Sanandaj), but nowadays these carpers are weaved by symmetric ties or Turkish Knot. Using twisted fibers by the carpet weavers resulted in clear knots behind the carpets.
Kolah Farang, Mahi Darham, Bte Jeqe, Gol Farang, Gol va Bolbol, Gol Vakili, Gol Mirza Ali are the common designs.
Sanandaj old carpets had exquisite and clear colors. Although nowadays chemical raw colors are common but still special carpets are weaved by herbal colors. The most important colors used in Sanandaj carpets are: dark lacquer, dark blue and blue. Today in addition to the colors mentioned, lighter colors are used such as: cream, light blue, light lacquer.
The prominent feature of Bijar carpet is dense texture. They are weaved in a way that could not be folded. In initial stages of trade, these carpets are called “Loul”. It indicates the excessive consistency of Bijar carpets. To weave these carpets which are as solid as a board, a thick weft in addition to one or two thin wefts is used. It is repeated periodically in warps and wefts. Using iron comb for the knots make the carpet more consistent. Bijar is considered as one of the pioneers in carpet weaving industry in Iran. Regions of carpet weaving include Bijar and its villages. Many old carpets of Kurdistan that are kept in domestic and foreign museums are of Bjiar type. Carpet weaving has a long history in this city and the historical record of the carpets with date labels goes back to 1266 (Islamic calendar).
The most famous designs in the region are: hunting ground such as medallion hunting, perspective hunting, visual designs such as: Leili va Majnoun, miniature designs and mythical stories, Gol Farang such as Gol Farang Mostowfi, layered Gol Farang, medallion Gol Farang, bouquet, Gol Farang and arabesque, flower, nightingale and vase, crab designs-patterns such as Khatam Shirazi, Gol Farang, Mina Khani, Trees and flower, Mostowfi, Shah Abbasi flower (Palmette flower), overall Shah Abbasi flower (Palmette flower), medallion, plain-arabesque weave patterns such as Arabesque Gol Farang, Geometric-arabesque, dragon leaf and tree designs such as weeping willow, flower and nightingale, perspective tree, vase, Termeh, in and out fish such as Bijar fish, Sna Fish, Afshar fish, Mirak fish, Zobeideh fish, Hassan Teimour fish, Nemachielus, bee fish, tiny fish and geometric designs such as Samanbar Khanum, broken arabesque and Khatam Shirazi.
Happy and vivid colors such as red, rose (light pink), floral white, black, white, salmon, and different kinds of green on dark blue, white and red background are used. Using green, white, floral white and corn silk on lacquer background make Garous carpets prominent and vivid and make the images and patterns bright on the carpet. This temerity could be seen in using a kind of yellow in the carpets which specific to Bijar carpets, even it is used in simple and plain carpets. Red, white and dark blue are used mostly.
Rural and Tribal Carpets:
Rural carpets are heavy with long and thick piles because of using thick woolen wefts. In local terms, it is called “Khersak”. Most of the designs of these carpets are geometrical. Their designs are performed subjectively so that each weaver is skilled in weaving a special design and he keeps its general design in his mind and weaves it every time as he tastes. The background of most of these carpets is dark and other colors used in contradiction to it.
Sanandaj Rug (Kilim):
Sanadaj rug or as it called “Sna Rug” is important in terms of texture, color, design, image, raw material and size. All its materials are provided traditionally using local tools in the region. Laciniate method is used in weaving these carpets. In this method, the rugs are weaved double. Both sides have obvious patterns.
Rug is a kind of ground cloth weaved by sheep wool and other tame animals and traditionally it is used to cover the ground, the wall or on the back of animals. Nowadays it is used as a modern and decorative cover for urban houses. Rug is weaved in most of regions but its main center is Sanandaj and many villages of this province. Among the designs, Kolah Farang, Medallion, in and out fish and regular patterns are the most common, but there are also some exceptions such as Mousaei, Animal and Caucasus. Gol Mirza Ali, flower and vase are common as well.
Plant (bush) designs are also seen in Sanandaj rugs which is weaved as different kinds of paisley. Mina Khani, Sna Straipped design, Vakili flower, river stone, tea flower and Chinese flower are another designs of Sna Kilim. The sizes of most of these carpets are less than 6 sqm.
Bijar Rug (Kilim):
In this region same as other regions, rug weaving is older than carpet weaving. The dominant color in Bijar rug is cream and white, with combination of orange, green, olive green, dark blue, blue and gray. It is distinguished and decorative because of its beautiful patterns using flowers, branches, leaves, birds, fish and geometrical shapes. They are weaved subjectively and based on the imaginations of local artists. Laciniate design is the most important pattern in Bijar rug that is weaved by rows of wefts in contrast of colors. Images of turtle, samovar, kohl box, axe, garden, tent, hexagonal and branch are used. Other common patterns in these rugs develop their artistic aspect. In addition to rug weaving, weaving different kinds of cloth for keeping quilts and mattresses, salt shaker, table cloth, saddlebag and washing mitt, with beautiful decorations is common in Bijar.
Mowj or a woven texture for keeping quilts and mattresses is used mostly in rural areas and sometimes in urban areas. It is used as coverlet in cold weather. It is made of wool and its length is about 25.2 meters and its width consists of four thin parts. These four parts with width of 5.9 meters are bond to the Mowj weaving device.
Prayer Rug or Janamaz:
Prayer rug is another handicraft made in Mowj weaving workshop. It is used for saying prayers and it should be kept clean. It is folded after saying prayers. It is small about 100x150 Cm, comprising two parts.
In Kurdistan, Felt weaving has integrated with the long history of Kurds in livestock husbandry. It is an appropriate toolfor living in a cold and mountainous region of Kurdistan since it works as an insulator against humid, hot and cold weather and it is also very tight.
Shal is a kind of cloth used in making Kurdish clothes. It is made of goat hair, a kind of goat called Maraz or Maghaz. First it is spanned then it is weaved by Jolaei loom (traditional textile making). The width of the cloth weaved is between 12 to 16 Cm. at the time of making clothes, first the parts are sewed together then they will be cut and changed into clothes.
Delicate Work Products:
Wood delicate works are one of the most prominent handicrafts in the province. The basis of delicate work is to veneer the designs and patterns prepared and made of wood according to the predesigned patterns. Sanandaj is one of the most important centers of delicate work in Iran and in the world as well. It is the art of combining tiny parts of woods delicately resulted in making delicate wooden products such as back gammon; penner, etc. sound mind, skill, taste and creativity in delicate works are the prominent feature in Sanandaj. Sanandaj skillful artists use the beautiful wood knots of walnut and oleaster to create fabulous shapes. In addition to their skill, the natural and pretty knots of walnut and oleaster wood make the products more beautiful. Delicate work record is about a century and a half. According to the masters of delicate work, it is founded by Nematollah Nematian father of late Haj Majid Nematian.
In addition to delicate work, Sanandaj is famous for wood carvings. It is worth mentioning that valuable art works of Mr. Ali Akbar Behzadian could be visited in the museum of anthropology in Kurd Mansion.
Nowadays, wood carving has been integrated in delicate work so it could be seen in most of delicate work products ordered by the customers, but fortunately most of old masters of delicate work still use wood knot especially walnut, Oleaster and Aceraceae woods.
Making Music Instrumentals:
Because of different high grade wood and existence of talent in the field of music, wood products develops more and more every day and Kurdistan province is one of the regions for providing musical instruments especially traditional music such as Tar, Setar, Violin, Qanun and Santur. Other handicrafts of the province include: traditional jewelry making, pottery, leather products and wood turning.
Making Sash Windows and Girih (decorative Islamic geometric art form)
The oldest art works in Kurdistan are related to Asef mansion constructed in Safavid period as well as sash windows and windows of Khosroabad mansion built by Amanollah Khan Governor of the region at the time of Fathali Shah government. The big sash window of Sanandaj Museum (Mola Lotfollah Sheikholeslam house) is related to Nasereddin Shah Period, indicates the origin of delicate work and wood carving, since those masters who made these sash windows and art works were founded delicate work.
Arabesque and geometric patterns and designs are the spectacular features of sash windows remained in the mansions. Generally they are of 8, 12 and 16 knots (parts).
In Kurdish regions a kind of Giveh is produced called “Klash”. It fits well with Kurdish clothes. The upper part of it is made of cotton thread and the lower part is compressed fabric, so it is light and flexible and suitable for mountainous regions. Originally it is specific to Uraman but now it is produced in all the cities throughout the country.
Using Spangle on the Clothes:
Most of Kurdish women know this art, and do it in the villages of Sanandaj, Saghez and Marivan in their leisure time. They sew spangle on traditional vests, belts and hats.
Traditional jewelries have a long history in Kurdistan. Sanandaj artists has produced jewelry using copper, bronze and nickel silver, etc. in the form of local patterns such as different kinds of necklaces, bracelets, bangles, rings and earrings, etc. in different shapes.
Pottery is common among women in the villages of Sanandaj and Saghez and nowadays they make big vases, jugs and bread making oven without using pottery wheels in a traditional way for local uses and put them in the oven in the earth dug by hand and heat the products by burning wood and animal stool.
Pastry and Souvenirs:
Same as other regions in the country, Kurdistan has special cookies and other foods. Konjed cookie is the most important pastry specific to Sanandaj. It is made in two kinds of “sugar” and “Manna” Other pastries include Nan Berenji, candied almonds and a kind of Basloq. A kind of pastry called “Komaj” and a kind of Halva Sohani are specific to Bijar. Saghez has different kinds of sunflower seeds. Also because of geographical situation of the province, there are different kinds of dried fruit throughout the province especially there is a kind of black raisin in Baneh, which is very nutritious and it is served as juice.
Most of pastry and souvenir shops in Sanandaj are located at Ferdosi Street, opposite Bahman cinema.