Tehran exhibit hosts retrospective of veteran locksmith

May 22, 2019

TEHRAN – Tens of traditional-looking locks by Hossein Shams were exhibited at the headquarters of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization in Tehran as a retrospective of the 71-year-old Iranian locksmith.

Works by Shams, who has 62 years of experience in this field, have been put on show at 52 national or international exhibitions, CHTN reported on Tuesday.

He was trained under master locksmiths in Tehran and Alborz provinces since the age of nine, the report said.

The exhibit opened to the public on May 18 and came to an end on May 22. 

According to Encyclopedia Iranica, locks have been made in Iran since at least the second millennium BC. The most ancient lock, dating to the 13th century BC, was excavated at the UNESCO-registered ziggurat of Tchogha Zanbil in southwest Iran.

Throughout the Islamic period in Iran, locks were made in all shapes and sizes. In the first centuries after the introduction of Islam (7th-9th centuries.) in Iran, locks followed the same style as those of the Sasanians.

From the 10th century onward, however, lock making went through major changes; figural locks in the form of animals and birds became popular. Nearly all animals, such as the horse, lion, goat, ram, camel, rabbit, and water buffalo, as well as fish and all kinds of birds, were fashioned in locks, which were most often made of bronze and brass.

Until not long ago, every Iranian bazaar had a section dedicated to locksmiths (locally known as bazaar-e qoflsaz-ha), but the importation of machine-made locks from the West drove the locksmiths out of competition.

AFM/MQ/MG

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