Despite recent technological advances, Iran’s traditional carpet industry still appears to maintain its competitive edge.
“What we do is an art, and art does not die,” Halit Keremi, an Iranian carpet maker, told Anadolu Agency.
Hand-woven Persian rugs have a worldwide reputation due to their high quality and value.
It takes almost two years from two people to weave a six-square meter Persian carpet. It is made by transferring wool trimmed from sheep into twines and dying them before weaving them into carpets.
Once this process is over, webs are attached to the rugs and put on display for sale.
The Persian rug is a big business in the Islamic Republic.
According to estimates by the Iranian Industry Ministry, Iran produces around 400 tons of hand-woven carpets annually, the sweeping majority of which are exported to world countries.
One of Iran’s top exports, the rug business employs around 2.5 million people in the country.
“Iran earns some $400 million through hand-woven carpets,” Firiste Destpak, the head of Iranian National Carpet Center, said.
The carpet business dates back to the founding of the Persian Empire more than 2,500 years ago, in which master weavers have passed down their skills for generations.
The carpet industry was recently placed in the second round of sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Iran after the former withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
“Sales have recently declined due to the rising cost of materials and falling value of the local currency,” Huseyin Cihani, an Iranian carpet maker, told Anadolu Agency.
Praising the high value of Persian rugs, Cihani said he has an 80-year-old carpet in his own store.
“Although it has been used for 80 years, it looks brand new,” he said. “A carpet can easily be used for 100 years.”
“The manufactured carpets are relatively popular due to their cheap prices, however, those who are aware of the quality and value of hand-woven rugs will not prefer the manufactured ones, no matter how cheap they are.”
Daryush Hatif, another rug maker, said they export to Canada, but imports from countries as Pakistan and India have affected their rug exports.
“To us, the manufactured carpets are more expensive than the hand-woven,” he said.
“Chemical materials are used [for mass-produced carpets] whereas the hand-woven rugs include straight wool,” he said.”The cost caused by the carpets produced by chemical materials is far superior. There is not much difference in terms of price.”