Silk from Persia – New shine for ancient art

Title (engl.): Silk from Persia – New shine for ancient art.
Title (french) Iran – L’art de tisser la soie

Documentary: 43 minutes, Arte Wunderwelten

Written and directed by: Niloufar Taghizadeh

Production: Windcatcher-Productions GmbH

The artist couple Azadeh Yasaman Nabizadeh and Ali Khatibshahidi from Tehran have made it their mission to revive the traditional Iranian art of weaving and to save the magnificent Persian patterns from oblivion.

For over twenty years, the couple has been committed to preserving the work of silk weavers. For the couple, this is about much more than the preservation of an ancient cultural technique. It is about the self-image and the right of Iranian women to wear traditionally colored and patterned fabrics. And it is about the protection of the environment through the reforestation of the old mulberry plantations and the possibility to create jobs and perspectives again for young people in rural areas.

The handicraft production of silk fabrics in Iran has a 2500-year tradition. The care of silkworms, the spinning of the gossamer threads and the hand weaving of colorful, fine silk fabrics has long been an important source of livelihood for people in rural areas and the heart of Persian culture.

In recent decades, more than half of the forests have been destroyed and with them the habitat of countless silkworms. In the meantime, Iran imports almost only industrially produced fabrics from China. Silk sheen is imitated with polyester.

In Tehran, the artist couple meets Habib Keramatlou, a young man who, despite financial hurdles, has managed to study silk production. But the lack of prospects in the country has led him to leave his village with his family and work in a chemical factory in Tehran.

When Azadeh and Ali hear about Habib’s story, they develop a visionary idea together: with his knowledge, they could revive silk production in the villages together, plant mulberry trees and breed caterpillars. In this way, they could not only save the old traditions, but also create a new livelihood for the village community and stop the destruction of the environment. The film follows Habib to his village, where his family and the village elders talk about the history of the silk tradition and today’s challenges.

This documentary by German-Iranian filmmaker Niloufar Taghizadeh takes us on a journey through the history and art of silk production, from the cocoon of the silkworm to the finished woven fabric – a living testament to Iran’s cultural diversity. “Silk from Persia. New Splendor for Ancient Art” shows the impressive work of Azadeh, a strong and undaunted woman who, despite difficult circumstances and setbacks, fights passionately with her husband Ali for the future of their silk project and, with it, the future of their culture and their country.

When this documentary was filmed, the current protests in Iran were unthinkable. However, Azadeh and her work already show the spirit of Iranian women who are energetically resisting their paternalism and fighting for their rights. The fabrics and creations are a bold reminder that women in Iran once confidently wore colorful and patterned garments in a country where black-veiled women dominate the street scene.