A handicraft, sometimes more precisely expressed as artisanal handicraft or handmade, is any of a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools. It is a traditional main sector of craft, and applies to a wide range of creative and design activities that are related to making things with one’s hands and skill, including work with textiles, moldable and rigid materials, paper, plant fibers, etc. Usually the term is applied to traditional techniques of creating items (whether for personal use or as products) that are both practical and aesthetic.
Collective terms for handicrafts include artisanry, handcrafting, crafting, and handicraftsmanship. The term arts and crafts is also applied, especially in the United States and mostly to hobbyists’ and children’s output rather than items crafted for daily use, but this distinction is not formal, and the term is easily confused with the Arts and Crafts design movement, which is in fact as practical as it is aesthetic.
Handicrafting has its roots in the rural crafts—the material-goods necessities—of ancient civilizations, and many specific crafts have been practiced for centuries, while others are modern inventions, or popularizations of crafts which were originally practiced in a limited geographic area.
Many handicrafters use natural, even entirely indigenous, materials while others may prefer modern, non-traditional materials, and even upcycle industrial materials. The individual artisanship of a handicrafted item is the paramount criterion; those made by mass production or machines are not handicraft goods.
Seen as developing the skills and creative interests of students, generally and sometimes towards a particular craft or trade, handicrafts are often integrated into educational systems, both informally and formally. Most crafts require the development of skill and the application of patience, but can be learned by virtually anyone.
Like folk art, handicraft output often has cultural and/or religious significance, and increasingly may have a political message as well, as in craftivism. Many crafts become very popular for brief periods of time (a few months, or a few years), spreading rapidly among the crafting population as everyone emulates the first examples, then their popularity wanes until a later resurgence.
Carpet and Rug Weaving
The Persian carpet or Persian rug is an essential part of Persian art and culture. Carpet-weaving is undoubtedly one of the most distinguished manifestations of Persian culture and art, and dates back to ancient Persia. In 2008, Iran’s exports of hand-woven carpets were $420 million or 30% of the world’s market. There is an estimated population of 1.2 million weavers in Iran producing carpets for domestic markets and international export. Iran exports carpets to more than 100 countries, as hand-woven rugs are one of its main non-oil export items. The country produces about five million square meters of carpets annually 80 percent of which are sold in international markets. In recent times Iranian carpets have come under fierce competition from other countries producing reproductions of the original Iranian designs as well as cheaper substitutes.
The designs of Persian carpets are copied by weavers from other countries as well. Iran is also the world’s largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets, producing three quarters of the world’s total output. Though in recent times, this ancient tradition has come under stiff competition from machine-made products. Iran is also the maker of the largest handmade carpet in history, measuring 60,546 square feet (5,624.9 square meters).
Persian carpets can be divided into three groups; Farsh / Qāli (sized anything greater than 6×4 feet), Qālicheh (meaning “small rug”, sized 6×4 feet and smaller), and nomadic carpets known as Gelim (including Zilu, meaning “rough carpet”). In this use, Gelim includes both pile rugs and flat weaves (such as kilim and soumak).
Ghalamkar fabric is a type of Textile printing, patterned Iranian Fabric. The fabric is printed using patterned wooden stamps. It is also known as Kalamkari in India which basically is a type ofhand-painted or block-printed cotton textile.
Termeh is a precious type of handwoven cloth of Iran, primarily produced in the Yazd province. Weaving Termeh requires good wool with tall fibers. Termeh is woven by an expert with the assistance of a worker called “Goushvareh-kesh”. Weaving Termeh is a sensitive, careful, and time-consuming process; a good weaver can produce only 25 to 30 centimeters in a day. The background colors which are used in Termeh are jujube red, light red, green, orange and black. Termeh has been admired throughout history: Greek historians commented on the beauty of Persian weavings in the Achaemenian (532 B.C.), Ashkani (222 B.C.) and Sasanidae (226-641 A.D.) periods and the famous Chinese tourist Hoang Tesang admired Termeh. After Islam’s arrival in Iran, the Persian weaving arts were greatly developed, especially during the Safavid period (1502-1736 A.D.), during which time Zarbaf and Termeh weaving techniques were both significantly refined. Due to the difficulty of producing Termeh and the advent of mechanized weaving, few factories remain in Iran that produces traditionally woven Termeh. Rezaei Termeh is the most famous of the remaining factories.
Kilims are flat tapestry-woven carpets or rugs produced from the Balkans to Pakistan. Kilims can be purely decorative or can function as prayer rugs. Modern kilims are popular floor-coverings in Western households.
Khatam is a Persian version of marquetry, art forms made by decorating the surface of wooden articles with delicate pieces of wood, bone and metal precisely-cut geometrical shapes. Khatam is also the capital of Khatam County in Iran. Khatam kari is the art of crafting a Khatam. Common materials used in the construction of inlaid articles are gold, silver, brass, aluminum and twisted wire. Artworks with smaller inlaid pieces are generally more highly valued.
Enamel working and decorating metals with colorful and baked coats is one of the distinguished courses of art in Isfahan. Mina is defined as some sort of glasslike colored coat which can be stabilized by heat on different metals particularly copper. Although this course is of abundant use industrially for producing metal and hygienic dishes, it has been paid high attention by painters, goldsmiths and metal engravers since long times ago. In the world, it is categorized into three kinds as below:
- Painting enamel
- Charkhaneh or chess like enamel
- Cavity enamel.
What of more availability in Isfahan is the painting enamel of which a few have remained in the museums of Iran and abroad indicting that Iranian artists have been interested in this art and used it in their metal works since the Achaemenian and the Sassanid dynasties. The enamels being so delicate, we do not have many of them left from the ancient times. Some documents indicate that throughout the Islamic civilization of and during the Seljuk, Safavid and Zand dynasties there have been outstanding enameled dishes and materials. Most of the enameled dishes related to the past belong to the Qajar dynasty between the years 1810–1890 AD. There have also remained some earrings. Bangles, boxes, water pipe heads, vases, and golden dishes with beautiful paintings in blue and green colors from that time, Afterwards, fifty years of stagnation caused by the World War I and the social revolution followed. However, again the enamel red color, having been prepared, this art was fostered from the quantity and quality points of view through the attempts bestowed by Ostad Shokrollah Sani’e zadeh, the outstanding painter of Isfahan in 1935 and up to then for forty years.
Now after a few years of stagnation since 1992, this art has started to continue its briskness having a lot of distinguished artists working in this field. To prepare an enameled dish, the following steps are used. First, choose the suitable dish by the needed size and shape which is usually made by a coppersmith. Then, it is bleached through enameled working which is known as the first coat. It is then put into a seven hundred and fifty degree furnace. At this stage, the enameled metal will be coated with better enamels a few more times and again reheated. The dish is then ready to be painted. The Isfahanian artists, having been inspired by their traditional plans as arabesque, khataii (flowers and birds) and using fireproof paints and special brushes, have made painting of Isfahan monuments such as step, the enameled material is put into the furnace again and heated at five hundred degrees. This causes the enameled painting to be stabilized on the undercoat, creating a special “shining” effect. Most of today’s enamel workings are performed on dishes, vases, boxes and frames in various sizes.
Toreutics is a term, relatively rare in English, for artistic metalworking,by hammering gold or silver (or other materials), engraving, Repoussé and chasing to form minute detailed reliefs or small engraved patterns. Toreutics can include metal-engraving – forward-pressure linear metal removal with a burin.
Moarragh (similar to abaculus, Abaciscus) is a branch of art created from arranging small parts of different materials besides each other. Different types of Morarragh exist, e.g., Moarragh of tile, leather, wood, etc. Our work is related to Wood Moarragh. Design instructions: First, provide a piece of wood with proper length and width. Its thickness may be about 15 mm.
Other parts are mounted on it. This could be the surface of a table or buffet. Small parts of some trees, like walnut, boxtree, orange, sour orange, are used. These are called to be self-color. The thickness of the particles is about 3-4 mm. They are cut into different shapes and attached to the plate. The holes between the particles are filled by polyester.
Later, the particles are rubbed to have an equal surface. No painting or artificial colors are used. All colors are natural. All lines are created by cutting the wood.
in the historical city of Isfahan, there are beautiful and novel designs on domes and minarets of mosques. These are made out of small pieces of colored ceramics which are accurately stuck on the work surface. This old art in decorative architecture is called “In-laid tile”. The wood in-lay (Moarragh), nowadays well-known in world markets, is inspired by the above old art. For making wood in-lays one should be experienced and skilled in cutting and harmonizing. This art is a hard and time consuming job. The designs must be cut out from the main panel and then the various pieces of the design made from different materials in various colors should be fixed in the empty places.
In the Iranian noble Moarragh, there is absolutely no application of paint and brush. The pieces of the design, apart from being small and delicate, are generally made of 72 types of wood in natural colors plus camel bone, mother of pearl, and natural or synthetic ivory. Metals such as copper, brass, aluminum, silver and gold are also used in some Moarraghs.
Wood carving is a form of working wood by means of a cutting tool (knife) in one hand or a chisel by two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object. The phrase may also refer to the finished product, from individual sculptures to hand-worked mouldings composing part of a tracery.
The making of sculpture in wood has been extremely widely practiced but survives much less well than the other main materials such as stone and bronze, as it is vulnerable to decay, insect damage, and fire. It therefore forms an important hidden element in the art history of many cultures.Outdoor wood sculptures do not last long in most parts of the world, so that we have little idea how the totem pole tradition developed. Many of the most important sculptures of China and Japan in particular are in wood, and the great majority of African sculpture and that of Oceania and other regions. Wood is light and can take very fine detail so it is highly suitable for masks and other sculpture intended to be worn or carried. It is also much easier to work than stone.
Some of the finest extant examples of early European wood carving are from the middle Ages in Germany, Russia, Italy and France, where the typical themes of that era were Christian iconography. In England, many complete examples remain from the 16th and 17th century, where oak was the preferred medium.
Stone & Mosaic:
Ceramic & Mosaic Works
With an ancient history and civilization in art and an impressive background in pottery, as well as large reserves of raw materials, Iran was a suitable ground for tile and mosaic industry at the end of the 2nd millennium BC.
Archaeological excavations revealed glazed bricks in addition to the glazed pottery in Chogha Zanbil, Susa, and other ancient sites in Iran. Mosaic making technique and industry – compositing small colored stones in a geometric pattern and with various beautiful designs – reached its peak of progress and development at this time. The cup found in Marlik excavations is an excellent and complete example. This mosaic cup, made of combination of colorful stones with double-wall design, is called “thousand-flowers” in technical term and is equal to fretwork in terms of work quality. Some samples of tile industry were related to Achaemenid palace and dated back to 400 BC were found in Susa and are now available in French museums.
Decoration remained from Achaemenid shows the use of colorful glazed and painted bricks. The bodies of Susa and Persepolis structures are arranged with such a combination. Two interesting examples of this type of tile, known as “Lions and Shooters,” were obtained in Susa. The decorative tiles were also used to make inscriptions. The original color of tiles context of Achaemenid period was often yellow, green, and brown and the glaze over bricks was made of baked stucco and soil. After the spread of Islam, the tile art gradually became one of the most important decorating and covering factors for stability of various structures, particularly the religious buildings. From early Islamic period, Iranian tile-setters and tile-makers, like other Iranian artists, have been pioneers. According to Islamic historians, they took their various methods of tile art to as far as conquered countries, namely Spain.
Tile work is a pleasant way of architectural decorating in all Islamic lands. Development of tiles began from small colored external elements in brick facades and led to entire cover of historical monuments in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries AD. In decorations of the first centuries of Islamic architecture, turquoise and azure colored tiles were common and widely used along with unglazed bricks. In this period, tile was initially used to decorate the upper part of minarets and to highlight the religious statements for readability. But it gradually made its way to decoration of buildings: geometric designs with symmetric flower-plants were mixed in the context and transparent colors were gradually used.
Iranian artists created a type of “moaragh” (streaky) tile through combining different-colored tiles and mixing adobes of simple and monochromatic tiles of pre-Islamic era with diverse colors and making a type of “seven colors” tile. Moreover, they combined simple tiles with brick and plaster and made a type of tile called “Moaghal” (stronghold). Therefore, from the eleventh century, few constructions can be seen that have not been decorated through one of the mentioned three methods or with various colored tiles.