'To empower a woman is to empower the world.'
We are proud to share the stories of the talented craftswomen behind Zan Artefacts.
Introducing our incredible artisan Armaya* from Khuzestan, Dezful, Iran.
How long have you been weaving?
I have been weaving since I was a young girl. Weaving was my hobby, a game, a fun way to pass the time.
What is your earliest memory of Kapu?
My earliest memories are of my mum, aunt, their distant family and friends getting together to weave. Children would sit and watch them. I started by making the tiny Nini design, then with practice, found that I could make any piece.
When I was around 14 years old, my friends and I were struggling to make the perfect basket. We had some difficulties fixing the inner part of the basket lead. We worked on it for hours and couldn’t get it right. We weaved and re-weaved many times. An old lady from the village approached to see what we were doing. When we explained, she asked for the basket and solved the issue in no time - I swear it took her only a couple of minutes! We were so happy our jaws dropped. It was then that I realised my skills would improve with age and experience. I will never forget that day!
How did you learn the art of Kapu?
I learned through watching my mum, aunt and other family members. I always wanted to know how they created something so lovely. Eventually, this became the only way I spent my free time with girlfriends; weaving beautiful, colourful baskets.
What does this tradition mean to you?
When I have finished all the work at home, weaving is the only thing to keep me occupied, satisfied and happy in my free time and it is obviously a huge help to me financially. This work empowers me and has given me independence. If I want to buy something for my child, I no longer need to ask my husband for money. Weaving has given me a sense of freedom and therefore makes me feel calm and peaceful.
As Kapu has become more popular, there is now competition amongst the weavers and I feel challenged to create the best piece. It has given me courage and made me feel like an artist. Every basket I create represents my skills and taste as an individual.
What inspires your designs?
Where I live affects my work so much. Nature here is beautiful - so picturesque - and plays a big role in my life. Our baskets are different from one region to another and I think nature is the reason. It might not be obvious to untrained eyes but experts can look at the baskets and their colours and tell you exactly where a specific piece has been weaved.
Who I am - my perception of life and how I look at things - also plays a big role. As women we have different tastes and styles and I think this can be seen in our individual work. This means my unique style shines even when I get orders for certain colour baskets.
How do you select / work with colour?
My mood and how I feel that day affects my colour choices. My intuition. My feeling. The decision comes from the heart and not my brain. I don’t think, I feel it.
What is the best use of Kapu baskets or what do you use your baskets for at home?
I use baskets to store jewellery, grain/frijol like rice or beans, wrapped chocolates or nuts, my sewing kits, make-up and so many other things. It depends on the size and shape of them. I also create sets for newly married brides to store their things as a part of their dowry/tocher.
What does it mean to you to know that your work is being sold across the globe?
It gives me a lot of self-confidence and self-esteem. This art is only recently being recognised and seen in Iran. It is important to me that everyone knows the value of our work. I have spent my whole life weaving and it makes me so happy to know that what I create is loved by people of other countries and can help their lifestyle. For me, there is no better feeling.
*Names have been changed to protect our artisans' privacy.