Monday, 20 October 2008


Our ultimate internet carpet expert, Barry O’Connell, has informed us lately that the great bazaar of Tabriz is eventually being registered as a global heritage site. I visited Tabriz a couple of weeks after the presidential elections in the hot summer of 2005. The bazaar is very similar to others in the region, although definitely larger. Its entrance is at the Masjed-e Jomeh, a mosque dating back to the Seljuqs but has been restored in later centuries.

As usual in Iran’s busy bazaars, you will quickly get lost in the labyrinthine ‘guts’ of the city. The 35 km of covered bazaar often sports brick-vaulted passages and small caravanserais. There are special areas for carpet sales and sooner or later you may end up there with chay and discussions. A young carpet dealer, Alireza, who had a small shop in the main bazaar, wanted to introduce me to his, say, in a way godfather, Mr. Dawoud, a real gentleman, as he told me, who helped him to establish his small business and educated him as a future carpet dealer. And he was a gentleman. We had many informative chats about his passion, namely bringing very special pieces of Armenian carpets to Iran (which is, of course illegal; Iran doesn’t need to import carpets from abroad). They have a great market in the US, as he told me. They were not really my taste. Instead, I bought a small Shirvan that he was rather hesitant to sell to me since he had it in his own flat himself for 20 years or so.

The 1.2- million people city of Tabriz in Iran’s Azerbaijan province is not a beauty when compared to other cities in Iran. The main sight is the Blue Mosque, built in the 15th century by Turkmen who ruled Iran after the Mongolian Il-Khanid dynasty. The mosque had been heavily demolished in a terrible earthquake in the 18th century. Right now, there is still a lot of reconstruction work visible and many tiled bricks can be seen inside the mosque waiting for being replaced in its original positions. Other renovations were done only by painting the patterns on the bricks. Manufacturing new ceramic tiles is probably too expensive.

Alireza sold me an interesting kilim which had even a signature: a very plain, but nice piece in beige with brown margins and two goats in the center.


Barry O'Connell said...

What a wonderful article. I love your pictures. I have not been in Iran since about the time you took the images and it makes me miss iran very much. Thanks for the kind words.
Best wishes,
Barry O'Connell

Muller said...

Thanks Barry! I am right now planning my 2008 Morgenlandfahrt! I have been invited to Esfahan University. I will report on that soon.

Best wishes,

Intlxpatr said...

My husband and I would love to go to Iran - what great photos and a great write-up, Fahad. I like your new carpet; that eight pointed star is one of my favorite motifs. My husband collects kilim bags; he would love the one you just got. :-)

Muller said...

Thanks, intlxpatr, I am also glad that I found them. The Shirvan is in fact one of my favorites.
Alireza is every now and then still responding to my holiday greetings. Dawoud has disappeared in a way. He hoped to join the rest of his family in the US. Hopefully, he could manage.
More abbout my trip to the Azerbaijan province in Iran is coming soon.