Popular souvenirs to buy while visiting Iran

April 20, 2021 - 15:33

One of the traditions of Ancient Persia is handicrafts, which are preserved in the culture of the nation and passed on from generation to generation.

Today handmade products are highly regarded outside Iran as unique art. Popular way of Iranian handicraft are true masterpieces, and each of them has its own history. 

Art is a fine industry in Iran and is famous for its unique handicrafts. There are presently nine million Iranians, involved in the production of handicrafts and other rural industries like Persian carpets, Kilim & Jajim, hand–made and hand-painted glassware and ceramics, pottery items, and jewellery making. The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts has listed popular souvenirs to buy while visiting Iran as below.


Woodcarving refers to wood carved according to mostly traditional patterns (Islamic, Xetay) using simple tools (cave, wedge, knife). The designs are mostly protuberant and solid. Generally, woodcarving refers to the art of carving and engraving various designs on wood.


Woodturning refers to the act of shaping wood using horizontal wood scraping rotational machine to build products like sofa legs, bowl, plate, etc. A woodturning artist is a person who is able and skilled in regulating the woodturning machine, selecting the appropriate wood, and shaping and finishing the wood.


Saddlery (hand-made leatherwork) refers to the traditional art of cutting and sewing leather in order to produce leather bags, shoes, belts, etc. A saddler is a person who is skilled in recognizing various types of leather, cutting methods, and sewing leather pieces


Chadorshab is a beautiful and colorful cloth, weaved in Mazandaran, Gilan, and Khorasan Provinces of Iran, which local women wear it on their waist. In past, Chadorshab was used as coverlet or for packing quilts, blankets and pillows and the name “Chadorshab”, meaning the “cover of night” is also taken from this traditional usage. The patterns are geometrical and the cloth is usually waved from silk or colored wool.


Shaar refers to a type of cloth made of silk. This cloth is weaved by a special textile machine. The cloth is weaved in two methods: simple and stripped. There is no specific design for the cloth and it is weaved in purple, red, black, yellow, green, etc. in two-meter-long pieces. The cloth is used for men and women wears. This type of traditional art is popular in Kashan, Yazd and Isfahan.


Velvet is one of the most exquisite hand-made fabrics in Iran, which had been popular in Kashan, Yazd, Tabriz and Mashhad. Velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive soft feel. Velvet can be made from either synthetic or natural fiber like silk, cotton, etc. there are two types of velvet fabric: simple and protuberant. Traditional designs are used to decorate this hand-made cloth. 


Kalamkari is a type of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile, produced in Isfahan using wooden or metallic clocks. Only natural dyes are used in Kalamkari and it involves twenty-three steps and vaporing is applied to stabilize the color.


Firoozeh-Koobi (Turquoise-ramming) is a stone handicraft field that is conducted by inlaying small pieces of turquoise in a mosaic pattern on utensils, jewelry, decorative items, etc. A special type of dark-colored lacquer is used between the turquoise pieces. The lesser the space between the turquoise pieces, the quality is higher. This art is popular in Isfahan.

Painting on leather

Painting on leather refers to the traditional painting and sketching on leather products using herbal and durable paints. The final layer is gloss to insulate the work. Painting on leather is a handicraft art that require skills like sketching different designs, leather stretching, transferring the design, stenciling, painting different designs, varnishing, and finishing.

Vitreous Enamel

Vitreous Enamel (enamel painting) refers to the art of painting copper items using glazed colors. The color is stabilized by baking the item. Enamel painting is popular in Isfahan. Vitreous enamel is a handicraft art and the artist must be skilled in painting Iranian and Islamic designs, geometric patterns, Xatay designs, animal and flora designs, etc. on copper items. The artist must be able to glaze paint, bake the items, finish the works, etc.

Traditional Jewelry

Traditional Jewelry is produced using metallic wires made of gold, silver and copper to create traditional designs by intertwining, welding and soldering the pieces together. Most of the designs are local and traditional.

Glass Enamel

Glass Enamel refers to the technique of painting on glass bodies using brushes and enamel glazes. In order to stabilize the glazes and paints, the final work must be baked in 350 to 550°C. A glass painter is a person who has artistic taste and can recognize glass glazes, combine different solvents, use brushes for designing and painting, and regulate the furnace to bake the products.

Under-glaze Painting

Under-glaze Painting refers to the act of painting and decorating clay pots that have baked and glazed once. After painting, the pot is glazed and baked for the second time. An under-glaze painter is a person who is skilled in creating the substructure (the first glaze), baking, painting on the glaze and re-baking the item.

Leather Carving

Leather Carving (Engraving) is the traditional art of carving and designing various patterns on leather. A leather carver is a person who is skilled in designing and copying various designs, patterning, selecting the appropriate leather, transferring the design, using carving tools, carving on leather, decorating the design and making various products from the carved leather.

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