Local dolls effective means for cultural exchange, expert says

June 12, 2022 - 18:33

TEHRAN –  A cultural heritage expert believes local handmade dolls are an effective means for promoting and transferring culture between nations, a cultural heritage expert has said. 

“The local doll has been hailed as a very effective tool when it comes to cultural exchange, promotion and development,” Vida Maleki said, IRNA reported on Sunday. 

However, this tool does not appear in a macro-cultural policy of the country and its void is evident in the market for cultural products, she noted. 

Cultures of different lands have signs that give insight into the way people live there, she explained. 

Handmade dolls, among other things, are influenced by colors, tastes, celebrations, instruments, and music of the various tribes and ethnicities, she added. 

The story of doll making in different tribes and ethnic groups is amazing and meaningful, she said and added, “Despite the wide variety of dolls in the world according to the diversity of cultures, all of them share an invitation to peace, awareness, thinking, and tranquility.”

Handmade dolls have long been famed as souvenirs of different regions of Iran. 

With 14 entries, Iran ranks first globally for the number of cities and villages registered by the World Crafts Council, as China with seven entries, Chile with four, and India with three ones come next. For instance, Shiraz is named a “world city of [diverse] handicrafts”, Malayer is a global hub for woodcarving and carved-wood furniture, while Zanjan has gained the title of a “world city of filigree”.

In addition, the ancient city of Shiraz has been chosen to host the 39th General Assembly of the World Crafts Council-Asia Pacific Region (WCC-APR) in May 2023. Shiraz has a remarkable amount of handicraft pioneers. With an average age of 70, some of these pioneers are still active at their workshops. The occupational records of about 100 pioneers are collected and are annually praised by the custodians of the WCC General Office.

Available data compiled by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts suggests the value of Iran’s handicrafts exports stood at $120 million during the first eleven months of the past Iranian calendar year 1399 (March 20, 2020 – February 18, 2021), Mehr reported. The country’s handicrafts exports slumped during the mentioned months in comparison to the same period last a year earlier due to the damage the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted on global trade.

The Islamic Republic exported $427 million worth of handicrafts during the first eleven months of the calendar year 1398. Of the figure, some $190 million was earned via suitcase trade (allowed for customs-free and tax-free transfer) through 20 provinces, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts. Ceramics, pottery vessels, handwoven cloths as well as personal ornamentations with precious and semi-precious gemstones are traditionally exported to Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, the U.S., the UK, and other countries.


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