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Saturday - November 09,2019
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Souvenirs

Straw and Stem: Mats for All Purposes

Iranian handcrafts

All over the country, wherever there is access to palm leaves, wheat stems, straw or twigs, one could see traces of straw matting. Nevertheless, you can mostly find it in certain provinces such as Sistan, Khouzestan, Kordestan, Boushehr, Kerman, Yazd, Fars, Mazandaran and Gilan. Iranian handcrafts 

Straw Mats

Arthur Pope, the American professor of Iranian Studies, believes that the first floor mats were weaved from the straws extracted from the marshes of Mesopotamia. Drying the stems and weaving them together were the first steps towards making modern rugs. We could be certain that primitive men used to cover the caves with straw mats which were easy to make. At the same time, the straws protect him against extreme cold or hot weather conditions. Straw matting is even older than weaving textile, fabrics and the oldest mats date back to 5000 B.C. in Iraq. Iranian handcrafts 

The technique of matting uses plant strings and weaves them together by hand to create certain products such as mats, rugs, and even baskets and dishes. Straw matting includes bamboo weaving, Morvar (a kind of tree) weaving, twig matting, and basket weaving. “Chigh” matting is also a similar technique. The only difference is that the colorful wool strings are used for creating shapes and traditional designs. Straw mats are completely organic and the least amount of chemical material or colors are used in them.

Iranian handcrafts
Iranian handcrafts

The function of Straw differs in the local needs

Iran is one of the main producers of straw mats alongside Japan, Korea and Mexico and one could find foreign mats in the market, mostly from China, Pakistan and India. The quality of these strews is usually poorer, but they are more expensive. On the contrary, the domestic products are cheaper and healthier.

Different parts of Iran, each has a traditional method for weaving straw mats. In the southern part of the country, palm strings and in the northern parts, rice and wheat stems are used. These stems need a certain amount of humidity, since they are cultivated in the rainy weather; if they become too dry, the mats would start flaking. The southern mats are made of dried material and accordingly, they endure in the drier parts of Iran. Iranian handcrafts 

The function of products differs in the local needs. Somewhere, straw baskets are made for carrying the fruit or vegetable, somewhere else people make rugs and floor mats for covering the floors. Straw mats used in the window act like a protective shield, holding back the direct rays of the sun and keeping the warmth on the inside. For this reason, straw mats are the best choice for covering windows during summers, since they keep the cool air in. At the same time, the straw mats are fairly cheap and durable. If you wet them from time to time, the mats would retain their flexibility. The straw mats should be protected against open flames, hard pressures, and sharp edges. If they are maintained correctly, the mats would endure more than a decade.

Kapu

Iranian handcrafts
Iranian handcrafts

This is a traditional product from Khouzestan province, mostly in the northern parts of Dezful. Kapu means “the head, the top” or any round, squatting shape. Kapu is a kind of straw mat weaved in a spiral on a separate core and for this reason, it has great flexibility and could turn into different shapes. Straws retrieved from marshes. They are used as the core which makes the mat more stable and durable.The straw is weaved inside “Kertak” which grows on the bank of marshes and rivers. Kertak is not edible for the livestock and doesn’t have any natural pest; as a result, it is the best option for making mats and weavers find it easily in their locality. Iranian handcrafts 

Kapus have lively colorful strings which are either used partly for making designs and shapes or people use it as a cover to hide the straw body beneath it. The shapes are mostly diamonds, triangles, squares and stars which are adapted from the old architecture of Dezful. Consumers use these mats usually for creating small boxes, baskets and decorative figures. We have to keep Kapus dry all the time and if the core (Kertak) gets wet, it should dry quickly. Iranian handcrafts 

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