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Making lenj, a combination of Persian art and industry

Lenj is a type of small boat with different types of prow. People use these kinds of boats in order to travelling, taking a cruise, fishing, pearl hunting, business trips or freighting. Lenj in Persian means sashay and that’s the reason people of Iran named this boat Lenj! Persian art and industry 

Boat and lenj making is one of the oldest handcraft in south of Iran. This Persian art is archaic to some extent because it backs to Afaharid dynasty (1736–1796 A.D). Persian art and industry 

Persian art and industry
Persian art and industry

Iranians manually make lenjs of natural wood. The workshops of this art consist of approximately 8 workers and they are able to make a lenj within 2 years. The artisans need to have about 100 pieces of giant wood that each of them weighs 500-600 tons; as a result, the cost of these Iranian boats is extremely expensive. Persian art and industry 

It is interesting to know that there is no sketch map of making lenj and this skill have passed on from one generation to the next by experience. Besides, the master and the workers sing local anthems while they are working on these boats. Therefore, making lenj in south of Iran is not only an industry but a time-honored local ritual tradition. Persian art and industry 

Having said that, this traditional skill has recorded as Unesco intangible heritage in 2011.

Although people used to make traditionally these lenjs as sailing boat, nowadays they use state-of-the-art navigation equipment like GPS, digital computers as well as diesel or petrol engine. Therefore the art of lenj making has traditionally remained but the equipment of inside is modern.

Where to go to see lenj-making?

Making by artisans of the south of Iran, in provinces such as Bushehr, Hormozgān and Khuzestān, Goran village is the oldest place -probably in the whole world- where inhabitants have been making boats since 6,000 BCE. The fact was proved when Pinhas Pierre Delougaz, the archaeologist found a number of artifacts as firm evidence in 1967. In addition, Goran village is the most famous region of making lenj across the country where the artisans has preserved the traditional ways of doing this job.

Lenj-making is considered one of the top 10 national arts and one of the 360 intangible objects in Iran.

Making lenj, a combination of Persian art and industry

Making lenj and environmental protection

Although Iranians have always applied wood to make lenjs, they have come up with long-term solutions not to damage the environment. For instance, they used to plant a number of trees instead of each lenj they made. They did so because they wanted to use the wood of new trees for making the next boat in future. Or, they cut down the trees in a proper way, so they can get fast and easily remedied and grown up again.

The best trees for making boats are Tectona grandis, lotus tree, Ziziphus spina-christi tree, however Iranians use mostly Tectona grandis because even if the boat gets drown, the wood won’t harm sea environment. On the contrary, this is a good place for shells, fishes and Algae to live.

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