The Qalamkar Project

Persian woodblock printed textiles supporting women's welfare in Iran

About the Project


Many years before I set foot in Iran or even knew what Qalamkar meant, my mum came back from a holiday in Spain and spread the fruits of her vacation on the lounge room floor. My eyes were immediately drawn to what I thought must've been a Moorish blanket and I started selfishly using it everyday in the hope it would become mine through osmosis. It never did and mum never forgot, though the lasting impression of this object lived on.

Years later, when I was walking through the unparalleled Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Esfahan and I saw these textiles, I jumped with excitement and found out everything I could about them. With the help of a local esfahani, Ali, who soon became a close friend, we explored the workshops and met the people involved in every step of this craft.

The natural pigments used to colour each piece (derived from materials such as saffron, turmeric, walnut peel, lapis lazuli and pomegranate skin), the intricate design of the stamps used and the hypnotising process left almost entirely untouched by modern mass production techniques were all entrancing. The character and warmth of each object shone through it's unique design and the human hand that created it.

Unfortunately we learned of the waning popularity of Qalamkar in modern day Iran and how the skills were slowly being forgotten. Deciding it was too special of a thing to not be shared, we decided to establish an Esfahan-Melbourne partnership.


The Qalamkar Project was created to share the beauty of these Persian textiles while dedicating half of the proceeds to charity. We made a pointed decision to support women’s social welfare in Iran through the Kahrizak Charity Foundation and the Dastha-ye Mehraban Foundation.

From each purchase a donation equal to half of the amount goes towards either or both of these charities as you choose. Further information about each of them can be found here.

Needless to say, the project helps to employ the many independent Qalamkar craftsmen in Esfahan who spend hours handcrafting each item and helps ensure the longevity of this practice. Along with also providing an avenue to share and display Islamic, Persian and Middle Eastern cultural objects in Australia.

If you have any questions or queries feel free to drop us a line.

 

Thanks for all your support,
Daniel & Ali