By Setareh Behroozi
TEHRAN — Iran is doing very well in the field of handicrafts and this industry is flourishing in the country, President of World Crafts Council (WCC)-Asia Pacific Region Ghada Hijjawi-Qaddumi told the Tehran Times in an interview on Monday.
Hijjawi-Qaddumi travelled to Iran to take part at the celebrations of Isfahan and Tabriz, which have respectively received the title of the global cities of handicraft and carpet by WCC on October 4 and 6.
“There is awareness from Iran’s inside government, individuals and private sectors about the importance of handicrafts industry as cultural identity and economic source. I believe that this is very good since Iran has a very rich cultural heritage,” she said.
Trading of handicrafts and opening the global market lead to economic development and will also be a great help to tourism industry, she asserted.
“I want to congratulate the designation of Isfahan and Tabriz as World Crafts City and World City for Carpet Weaving and especially to crafts people who are working very hard to promote cultural heritage,” WCC chief noted.
On September 5, WCC declared Isfahan and Tabriz as global cities of handicraft and carpet weaving following studies by some international experts in Iran.
She also extended her thanks to officials at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft Organization (CHTHO) for their efforts to promote handicrafts and their well-organized event.
“CHTHO is very active and it is playing very important role in promoting crafts because the organization has managed some small market in cities to offer craftsmen,” she extolled.
—— Isfahan: A world of handicraft
Isfahan is selected as World Crafts City, which embraces different kinds of handicraft.
“Most cities in the world are known for one kind of handicraft, however Isfahan is an exception. You cannot name one specific craft for Isfahan so it is named as World Crafts City,” Hijjawi-Qaddumi stated.
“To make it clear, there is one more city, Jaipur in India, which is entitled as World Crafts City in 2015,” she explained.
This year, the council selected eight cities as global places of different handicrafts six of them are from Asia Pacific and two from Latin America. Last year, four cities were selected for the title.
———– Isfahan, Tabriz: A long way to go!
However, she believed that receiving the title as world cities of handicraft and carpet is the first step to be a global center for these industries.
“There is one important thing which is noteworthy; the designation of Tabriz and Isfahan as world crafts city and city for carpet weaving makes a great commitment for them.
“The cities cannot just hold titles and feel relaxed! They should report their projects and activities every year or other year to the council’s secretary general otherwise the title will be taken away from them,” Hijjawi-Qaddumi warned.
The two cities benefited from active crafts people and renowned masters and for sure they will be very active in future to prove they deserve designation, she remarked.
By designation of the cities, the council highlights the importance of the place in certain crafts worldwide, she said.
“The cities can benefit from networking prepared by WCC between the selected cities to share experience and to hold joint events,” she added.
———— Why Tabriz is selected among Iranian cities for carpet weaving?
When asked many other cities in Iran are doing carpet weaving but why Tabriz got the title, she said “First of all, other cities did not apply. As I’ve read, Tabriz fulfilled the WCC guideline. The city houses many craftsmen. It has a big carpet market in covered bazaar. There is an international carpet museum in the city and the most important the city has a faculty of carpet, in which carpet weaving, dying and designing are taught.
“The city has more trades in local and international market and another important thing is its historical background; it was on Silk Road and has a rich culture and history.”
The Iranian cities of Yazd and Kashan apply for 2016 designation as World Textile cities. They can submit their application from January to March 2016.
“They are almost in the same area and they can be nominated as a group of cities, however I prefer one city to apply but there would be more chance we can nominated as a group of cities,” WCC Chief explained.
———— Crafts people matters!
“I can tell you crafts people are the backbone of our organization so we protect them, since they are guardians of traditions and cultural heritage,” she said.
“One of the things we highlighted during our first visits is the welfare of crafts people. Their rest time, social security and health condition,” she said.
The World Crafts Council is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that was founded in 1964 to promote fellowship, foster economic development through income generating craft related activities, organize exchange programs, workshops, conferences, seminars, and exhibitions—and in general, to offer encouragement, help, and advice to the crafts persons of the world.