I recently spent two weeks visiting historical sites and touring rug weaving facilities in Iran. Arriving in Shiraz, we were met by our host for the trip Reza Zollanvari. Reza’s family is famous for having produced a line of Gabbe carpets that defined the market in such goods in the US and Europe for the last twenty five years.
Travelling with a small group of rug fans we visited city workshops weaving the latest modern renditions of Persian carpets and tent camps of the Qashgai nomads on their annual migration from the high pastures of the Zagros mountains down to their low lands along the Persian Gulf.
Having visited Iran in the early 1970’s, I was familiar with the outgoing nature of Persian hospitality. A lot of political water has passed under the bridge since those days and much has changed. Debilitating economic sanctions, a theocratic ‘revolution’, and eight brutal years of war with their neighbor Iraq have left a mark, though the people we met were unfailingly friendly, interested in talking, and incredibly hospitable. People stopped us on the street to talk. In the villages everybody was amazed that we were American – they had heard a lot about Americans, but never met one. Waiters asked what we thought about Mr. Trump and how the future of US international politics might look. Over two million Iranians live in the United States and in the cities it seemed that every family we met had a relation in the US.
Below are a few images from the trip. It is a remarkable place and now is a good time to visit.