(Persia Digest) – With over 200 filigree artisans producing between one and one and a half kilos of filigree every month, Zanjan has earned the name national city of filigree.
Based on archaeological finds, the oldest filigree artifacts can be traced back to Iran and the Achaemenid period. Sassanid metalworkers also made these expensive dishes, especially in silver, for the upper classes. In some cases, these were decorated with precious stones.
Discoveries of artefacts, either in digs or accidentally, in places like Susa, Hamedan, and Jeihoun show that the skills of filigree artisans in Iran date back to before the current era.
Historiographers write that the majority of exquisite metalworkers were from Khorasan, in north and northeastern Iran, under the Seljuq reign. Wars scattered these people, some of whom resettled in Zanjan, northwestern Iran, thus making it likely that the art of filigree flourished here in the 5th century AH.
Orientalist Frederick Richard writes in his travel diary: “Silver and filigree works glitter in the small city of Zanjan.”
Filigree was a local art of Zanjan up until the Pahlavi era. But, a number of these artists moved from Zanjan to Tehran and Isfahan under the rule of Reza Shah Pahlavi, hence spreading their art further afield.
Tea and sherbet sets, jewelry boxes, and knife handles were the main line of production up until this period.
Today, there are thirty filigree workshops in Zanjan. Artisans working here have all been trained by master Mansour Kazemian-Moghaddam. Of these, master Abdol-Rahim Mahar and Mohsen Yazdanshenas were awarded the Unesco seal of authenticity in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
Photos: Abdolreza Valayi
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