COVID causes $1.9m damage to crafts of Iranian province

September 19, 2021 - 21:23

TEHRAN- The handicraft sector of the southwestern Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari province has suffered a loss of 80.4 billion rials ($1.9 million at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the provincial tourism chief has announced.

Major damage was caused to production units and workshops for handicrafts, and parts of the damage also occurred to exhibitions and shops of traditional arts and crafts, Mehrdad Javadi said on Sunday.

Over 260 handicrafts workshops shuttered during the pandemic, with 329 crafters losing their jobs during that period, the official added.

Currently, 52 fields of handicrafts such as kilim carpets, traditional locks, and the Giveh shoes - traditional, lightweight footwear - are practiced in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari province.

Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari has various unique traditions and rituals relative to the 'tribal' lifestyles. Special forms of music, dance, and clothing are noteworthy. It has considerable potential to become a vibrant tourist attraction because of its changing natural landscape.

The province is also a hub for making wool felt products, majorly of which exported abroad. It is home to some 500 crafters, in over 250 workshops, making handmade felt products.

Last year, deputy tourism minister Pouya Mahmoudian announced that the handicrafts industry and related businesses across the country have suffered a loss of 19,000 billion rials (some $452 million) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The outbreak of coronavirus was one of the events that caused a lot of damage to the art of handicrafts in the country so that all handicraft markets have been closed and no exhibitions have been held in this area.”

“Due to the lack of inbound passengers during this time, unfortunately, the amount of suitcase trade (allowed for customs-free and tax-free transfer) diverged to almost zero,” the official said.

According to Mahmoudian, Iran globally ranks first in terms of having the topmost number of world cities [and villages] of handicrafts. “Some 295 fields of handicrafts are currently practiced across Iran with more than two million people engaging, majority of whom are women… Handicrafts also play an important role in the economy in our rural villages.”

ABU/AFM

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