The Persian carpet is an integral part of Iranian art. This documentary gives information about this ancient art while trying to show the carpet market in Germany, once under the dominance of Persian carpets.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
On screen: For centuries the Persian art in the west was best known by the Persian carpets. Arthur Upham Pope. A survey of Persian art
Port of Hamburg(Hamburger Hafen) 2016
The port was founded in 12th century as a free trade zone and the Persian carpet was the most traded product going through the customs of hamburger hafen. The customs was withdrawn in favor of the free trade in 2005
The Persian carpet symbolizes Hafen city and the old warehouses and carpet markets and stores at Brook street have proven to be a popular tourist attractions in hamburg
VOX POP [English] Local People : “-Do you live here?
-do you know what’s this under your feet
-do you know what’s this under your feet?
-yes, a carpet. Because they used to sell carpets here
-do you live here?
-do you know what’s this under your feet?
-it’s an Iranian carpet, you know?
-do you live here?
-do you know what’s this under your feet?
Yes, it is…I don’t know the English word
-it’s a carpet, right
-why are you making a movie about it?
-I am Iranian and I am making a movie about Iranian carpet here
Farsh, we say farsh.”
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Alireza Tabrizi, Carpet Seller: “Back then, the Port of Hamburg was a free zone. Everyone could freely store goods in here.
There was no need to go through the customs or pay taxes.
That made it perfect for the carpet sellers. The carpets were stored in here and then were exported from Germany. Since 1985 the carpet sellers began to reside here. Iran was involved in war and unemployment was a serious issue. Many got into carpet business, whether weaving, repairing or dyeing. Everything that had something to do with carpet got popular. The growth in production resulted in the increase of export. The government needed money, so the number of the traders increased.
In 1990 the number of carpet wholesalers who worked here was 428. Two third of the Port of Hamburg's warehouses were filled by carpets. Even now the tourists who are brought here by those tourist boats, are told, that one billion carpets are stored here.
That is no longer true.”
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00
On Screen: Hafen is a river island within the alp river the port of new Hafen city that is built quite attached to the old town, is one of the most expensive residential communities and neighborhoods in Europe
The ultra-modern architectural structures built in this new port are registered as world heritage by UNESCO and have been rewarded and highly acclaimed
Elbe Philharmonic concert hall is one of them,. This world’s greatest opera hall was inaugurated as the symbol for modern Germany in 2017.
The bridges link the old town to the new town
The contradicting juxtapositions and bounding in this area brings artists about to create their artworks here.
SOUNDBITE [German] Alireza Tabrizi, Carpet Seller: “This one has the very motives you selected for the bridge. This pattern is nicely woven. This pattern is called carpets with the Nain design named after a city in the center of Iran. In 80 percent of Nain design carpets, bright colors are used. Dark and red colors are scarcely used. Especially red is very rare. Like these little red spots here. This is a very specific carpet,
it's elegant and classic. Ultramarine is 80 percent used in here. It is very popular in this design trend. Dark colors are used in the corners mostly.
It is an old trend which has been followed to date. Three different tones
of blue can be distinguished. Turquoise blue, royal blue, sky blue mostly blue tones...Blue is dominant.
You see these little thorns here, but here in Germany there are no thorns. The thorns are cut off to make some free space.”
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Alireza Tabrizi, Carpet Seller: “Considering that he himself is an artist, I set the price by 750 euros. I asked him how much his project cost there. In 2005, they worked twelve weeks, five days a week, twelve hours a day. It cost him 50,000 euros. Then I explained to him the difference between handicrafts in Asia and Europe.”
SOUNDBITE [German] German Designer: “We are sitting in a room with a view to the stone carpet. In 2005, I participated in a contest with
the idea for an oriental stone carpet. The main idea was to build a bridge on a bridge, to link the city to the warehouses in Hafen City. Back then, I chose an oriental carpet and developed it, because Speicherstadt is the largest market for hand-woven carpets worldwide. For me, this is a bridge between nations and cultures, also between Arabic, Asian and German cultures.”
TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00
SOUNDBITE [German] German Designer: “That's why I picked a carpet with blue design pattern, because blue is a recurrent theme in Persian ornaments. Ultramarine as well as royal blue are seen in Arabic cultures.
That is why we put the carpet there, as we had planned. How I came up with the idea... We were looking for a motif, I came up with this idea by accident.
There is a Persian carpet store here.
I said, "That's the one I wanted.
It will help me with my design sketches."
I took it home, and took pictures of it. I did my sketches, then I finished my designing.
We selected this bridge, as the first bridge in Speicherstadt. And that is why we put the map of a Persian paradise on it. Because this bridge links cultures and people, which still excites me.”
SOUNDBITE [Englsih] Kai-Michael Hartig, Koerber Foundation: “It was in 2005, when the foundation moves from a different part of Hamburg just here. In the new Hafen city. And therefore the idea was to help this part of Hamburg which is quite new, it was an enhancing project to have a relationship between the past and the future. This carpet is a symbol for that.
So I just want to show you some pictures from the first days,
I think this one is one of the earliest pictures of the carpet
And late autumn of 2005 was when it finished
And in January 2017 the new concert hall in Hamburg which is called the philharmonic hall opened
And it is , I think one of the ways to reach the hall.
You have to cross this bridge.
And even if you go home, I think they normally use the right side of the bridge to get to the hall
But on the way back out of the concert,
Probably with some impressions out of the concert, the sound in their ears
They now look at the carpet . That was one further reason why we restored the carpet together with the artist.”
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Alireza Tabrizi, Carpet Seller: “This used to be one of the customs' gates, closed at 8:00 pm. And there stayed the customs agents in winter to control goods. And there was another section for carpets, which we used to go there.
For some years, my colleagues mand I - as I am a carpet wholesaler in this port, were hoping that the embargo would be lifted so carpet exports to the U.S. would increase. We bought our carpets a long time ago so we can sell them easily. But it is now two years since they have lifted the embargo and yet no carpet has been exported to America from here.”
TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Mohammad Naimi, Carpet Seller: “From 1980 to 1990,
the Persian carpet market was the most profitable. From 1990 to 2000, it was still okay. But since 2000, it has been on the decline. Since the currencies in Europe and in Germany were replaced by euros, the market has been declining. The carpet market is profitable, I'm not denying it, but not the Persian carpet market. Only other countries such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan have good carpet sales, they use modern design patterns suiting German apartments and houses.
They are newly produced in India.
For the reasonable price of approximately 600 euros. These are Picaso design patterns which are trendy and colorful. These are made in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This one is Chinese.
How are the prices in comparison?
Persian ones are triple more expensive.”
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Alireza Tabrizi, Carpet Seller: “Some of us sell the carpets back to Iran.
Here the carpets' prices are more reasonable. I do that every once in a while, they are sold quite fast in Iran. They are sold much more expensive and the money soon returns.
There are some reasons to that. Some of our colleagues are shutting down the business, they want to sell out at any price possible.
Another reason is because of our previously imported carpets. We cannot sell in here. So, those who can afford it, prefer to buy and send them back.”
SOUNDBITE [German] German Designer: “This carpet is 11 years old. It has lost colors and somehow has been damaged because of weather changes. I already knew the knotting techniques. We learned them as kids in our home. Our mother taught us.
So we could weave our own carpets. I know the diversity in the knotting techniques and how important they are. I wanted this stone carpet to show its knots. I wanted it to look like a hand-woven carpet. That is why I chose some millimeters-sized stones as materials, and applied them to the stone carpets' ornaments, and made a carpet which has ornaments. I value most the ornaments and installing them. For me, the wisdom behind this paradise map, carried the weight of the whole idea, as it does today. Today, I see people on it, they're friendly, and they’re smiling. I never saw anyone fighting while stepping on the bridge.
People pause while arguing, noticing they're stepping on a carpet, and an Eastern one, okay.”
TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00
VOX POP [English] Local Residents: “-I think it basically is something like Mandarla,
Obviously it must have a meaning but I don’t know
-it’s a Persian carpet,
- it’s a carpet…
-it’s a Persian carpet,
- Persian carpet,
I have seen original Iranian carpets before, there are many carpet stores in Vienna, and I’ve seen some there,
-do you have one?
-no I don’t have any carpets
-why you didn’t buy Iranian carpet before?
- it was basically the reason of the price, they are very very expensive
And they were so huge, I don’t have such huge rooms at home.
It’s nice, it’s beautiful. It’s different with other bridges. I like it
_ it seems like a carpet.
I think it’s a part of our history of Hafen city. Because we have a storage here, it was actually made for coffee, for the spices, and also for carpets from the eastern countries.”
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Alireza Tabrizi, Carpet Seller: “That's how I came up with the idea, and I still like it. The Persian carpet, its designing trends and the colors are outdated. European people can no longer tolerate the dark red in their houses. The daily life is stressful and people need more relaxing colors. Other countries such as India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have noticed this fact, but Persian producers haven't notice this yet.”
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Mohammad Naimi, Carpet Seller: “Persian carpet needs to be advertised and reasonably priced.”
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Hamid Kargar, Head of Iran National Carpet Center: “Mr. Mirzazadeh is one of the most distinguished carpet exporters.
He owns a warehouse in HafenCity of Hamburg and he sells carpets. It is admirable that unlike many of his colleagues who approached the markets of our rivals such as India and Pakistan, he is concentrated exclusively on Iranian classic carpets with all its authenticity. That is what distinguishes him. He played a major role in this very event. On the 40th anniversary of the Carpet Museum of Iran he transferred 40 old Iranian carpets from his own personal collection in Hamburg to Iran. So they will be exhibited here temporarily, so that Iranians could see them, and then they are sent back to his private collection.
If we know the Netherlands by its flowers, Switzerland by its watch, Germany by its Benz and BMW,
Iran should be known for its carpet.
In recent decades, our export revenue has decreased from 500 million dollars a year to 300 million dollars a year. Even in such unfavorable circumstances, in the international hand-woven products trade, the Persian carpet is still on the top. Iran stands on the top of the hand-woven products trade.
India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Nepal and China come next accordingly.
They are the next most important producers. Iran Carpet Center is going to run an advertising campaign for the Persian carpet. in order to introduce the Persian hand-woven carpet, as a unique and genuine art, that can aim at certain societies.
As a seller in a big hand-woven products market, if one is not totally aware of what they are presenting, then the distinguishing features that make the Persian carpet superior to the products of India and Pakistan remain unknown. So, the customer wouldn't know why the Persian carpet is three times more expensive than Indian or Pakistani carpets.
It won't take long before our dream comes true and become operational. Maybe within four or five years, but we could see vividly, that our markets will be prospering in the countries we have aimed at.
There are measures to be taken and not only by the government. Iran's government plays the smallest role on Iran's carpet market. The government is only a supporting institution. The Persian carpet in its history of 3,000 years has always been independent. The artists and the manufacturers have produced and put it on the market, then distributed them all by themselves.
It is common for the carpets to be sent back home from abroad. When there is an overflow of some sorts of colors or designs, the products are sent back home in order to be sent elsewhere.
They are not to be demolished here, but are sent to other aimed markets which demand them.”