Azadeh Yasaman Nabizadeh, born in 1978, attended a sewing class at the age of 9.Her mother made dresses for her and she did the same for her dolls! The young girl was taught by her teacher how to recognize colors at 12 which has become her permanent concern since then. The young designer held her first clothes exhibition aged 16. She took a diploma in Graphics and entered the university majoring in clothes and fabric design. Over the succeeding year, she learned to weave in the Art University.
The loom was the machine with which she could display her patterns. Azadeh wove her patterns and put them on instead of hanging them on the wall.
After graduating from the university, she exhibited her first woven fabric from flora, gold work and stone embroidery, tapestry, wool, thread and silk. Subsequently, her personal style was welcomed by many visitors. A year later, the designer succeeded in finding her special costumers and market and was known as one of the leading designers.
In Shahnameh (the Epic of Kings), Jamshid is the first master of professions, who taught skills to the mankind. Arts and crafts were passed on to us from father to son and we passed on our fathers and gods' professions to automatic machines and production lines. We failed to blow a spirit of originality to our products. There will be a nation of no past and no history, if the collective memory forgets common memories and experiences. Our generation is witnessing the extinction of traditional master craftsmen who have no trainees and will take away our living heritage with their demise. If we want to keep this rhythm alive, we have to make a move to pass on this heritage to future generations…
Weaving has undoubtedly been among the oldest crafts of the mankind. Although it is not possible to determine the exact date, when the craft of spinning and weaving textile started in Iran, instruments found in Kamarband Cave, near Behshahr, belong to 6000 BC. These instruments show that spinning yarn out of wool with primitive methods was customary during that time. However, there is no evidence showing that the spun yarns have been woven into textiles.
The first evidence of woven fabric in Iran has been found in excavations in Shooshtar, which belong to 4000 BC. In Siyalk Hill in Kashan, a small statue of a man made of bone has been discovered that was used as a knife handle. The man had a piece of cloth wrapped around his waistline, which shows that in 4200 BC, humans did not use animal fur in its natural shape, but wove fabrics out of its wool and wrapped them around their body with simple cuts. In addition, the earthenware found from that same period, which were decorated with horizontal and vertical lines in form of straw patterns, indicate that people were familiar with the art of weaving back then. Another object, excavated in Shoosh, is a copper blade from 3500 BC with residues of fabric -- in which the blade must have been wrapped -- over it. A bronze rod found in Tappe-Hesar of Damghan from 3000 BC, was used to spin fine threads and can be regarded as an indication of professional spinning in that age.
To start weaving, you must first loom the warp yarns, which determine the type, color and size of the fabric and remain unalterable till the end. The warps form the structure of the fabric and must be designed correctly. Every minor mistake can slow down the process. Warps are like the basis of being; like the fact that I am an Iranian woman, with unchanging characteristics. But, wefts are like thoughts, experiences and memories; changing or repeating... and can alter the design or color of the fabric in every move. They are like moments of life, which repeat, but are always fresh and new!
From the early days of history, ethnic arts have been evidences of their age. Arts move like waves and every rise and fall shape a certain style or school. Today, the world is in a rush, as if it is always late! The reason for extinction of many traditional arts is because their production lacks the spirit of time; as if everything is the same as it was! The art becomes the repetition of the past and short of today... a cliché!
I am not looking for the meaning of today in the ruins of the past; I am carrying the bundle of our culture on my shoulder, in order not to find tomorrow empty!
In the modern world, every individual has gathered the whole history and geography of the world in them. It is said that modernity has penetrated into individuals' genetic code and turned into the mankind's heritage! Every civilization that does not follow its course will be ruled out of the path, in which the world is moving. Every day, many traditional clothes, games and languages are forgotten and only those innovative civilizations remain that can give their lives a concept, consistent with their values. The cultural wealth, of which we are proud, is not just a word in a dictionary!
Long before starting to weave, I used to paint. Mr. Mahmoud Javadipour, my first tutor, taught me about colours when I was 12. Since then, colours became my constant interest and concern. I learned the art of tapestry from Ms. Lila Samari. The weaving loom was a new instrument for me; something I chose to express my designs with. I started to weave my canvas and wore it on bodies, instead of walls. Apart from the attraction and charm of the work itself, its antiquity made this art a sacred subject for me. I learned the history and mythology of fabrics and clothes from Ms. Nasrin Kayhan. Weaving became like wandering in the world of dreams and fantasies; but learning its history turned it into a kind of ritual, and opened a window to an old profession from the world of myths and our ancient roots.
Like the beginning of this craft in the world, I started my work with its simplest method. I wrapped the woven cloths with no cuts and seams around my body. Working with Jajim-weaving machine is easy; it can be found in most of villages and among most of nomads and has thousands of years of history. In Azeri language, Jajim means "striped". This thick and coarse hand-woven textile is often made of wool or cotton. My textiles are made in the same tradition, but I have modified the ordered structure of warps and monochromic arrangement of wefts 2 and created a fabric, with wave-like shades. I use a variety of materials for my works; from new materials -- like polyester -- to wool, cotton and ribbon and even wire and stone.
Until 2005, weaving was a colourful experiment for me and I had no intention other than enjoying and exploring the work, while admiring its beauty.
Having Ali Khatib-Shahidi as a companion, co-worker and partner in life, brought a more serious and professional aspect and goal to my work. We decided to revive the traditional cloth-weaving network. We started to travel around the country, but seeing the people who neither remembered, nor believed in their past, was a real disappointment that made us return home.
Beside my hand-woven textiles, which were young, noisy and lively, I longed for fabrics with roots in the history and geography of Iran. Traditionally-made fabrics were low in quality; weaving workshops were mostly wrecked and weavers were unmotivated, weary and old.
In my disbelief, but Ali's perseverance, he convinced the owners of a silk-weaving workshop in Kashan to work with us. They did not want to change their old routines. But I wanted those traditional textiles to have a modern spirit, so I introduced a sort of irregularity and disorder in arrangement and colours of their well-ordered traditional structure.
In each of his orders, Ali tried to promote the quality of one of the stages of the work. Improving the quality of organic and natural dyeing, increasing the density of fabrics, reviving Abresh and Ikat dyeing techniques, reinstating the four-harnessed loom and using colourful warps instead of the traditional black warp yarns were parts of his plans that he has accomplished by the help of traditional workmen.
Azadeh Yasaman Nabizadeh
Born 28 November 1978, in Tehran, Iran
2002, B.A. in Textile and Fashion Design, University of Art, Tehran, Iran
1997, High School Diploma in Graphic Design, Tehran, Iran
2016 to present: Started a project for revival of rural silk-weaving craft along with sericulture in Golestan Province
2011 to 2015: Carried out a project for revival of Mowj weaving craft in Kordestan Province (Mowj: a hand-woven piece of fabric mostly used as blanket or prayer rug)
2011 to 2014: Completed a number of research projects all around Iran to study traditional fabrics:
2005 to 2011: Carried out a project for revival of silk-weaving craft in city of Kashan, Isfahan Province
2005: Launched her own fashion brand: A-Y [Azadeh-Yasaman],Tehran, Iran
2002: Started fabric weaving with traditional weaving loom
2001 - 2002: Worked as Designer at “Hell Fabric Printing Factory”, Tehran, Iran
Winter 2017, Jahan Nama Museum, Saad Abad Palace Complex, “Siavashan”/Myths of Iran - Tehran, Iran
Winter 2016, Niavaran Cultural Centre, “Memories of Kordestan”/Life - Tehran, Iran
Summer 2013, House of Artists Cultural Complex, “Landscapes”/Nature of Iran - Tehran, Iran
Summer 2009, Golestan Art Gallery, "Ancient Silks"/Antique Cloths - Tehran, Iran
Winter 2008, Nations' Museum, Saad Abad Palace Complex, "Clothes" - Tehran, Iran
Autumn 2007, Negarestan Museum, Saad Abad Palace Complex, "Works" - Tehran, Iran
Spring 2007, Blue Hall, Niavaran Palace Complex, "Silks of Kashan" - Tehran, Iran
Autumn 2006, Blue Hall, Niavaran Palace Complex, "Clothes"/Ancient Clothes & Iranian Ethnic Clothes - Tehran, Iran
Summer 2005, Private Exhibition, "Woven-wear" - Tehran, Iran
Winter 2003, Saad Abad Art Gallery, "Shawls" - Tehran, Iran
Autumn 2007, Niavaran Cultural Centre, "Textile Design" - Tehran, Iran
Winter 2007, Negarestan Museum, Saad Abad Palace Complex - Tehran, Iran
Spring 2004, Saad Abad Art Gallery, "Visual Arts" - Tehran, Iran
Winter 2003, Haft-Samar Art Gallery, "Textile Design" - Tehran, Iran
Autumn 2016, Art University - Tehran, Iran
Autumn 2015, TEDx, Razi International Conference Hall, Tehran, Iran [http://tedxtehran.com/en/azadeh-yasaman-nabizadeh/]
2017, “In Search of Jula (the Weaver)” documentary; directed by Kambiz Saffari & Gelareh Kiazand
2010, “Vavy” [Vavy means Bride in Kurdish language] experimental movie; directed by George Hashemzadeh
2007, “Clothes” experimental movie; directed by Abdolreza Nikpou
2006, “Buried Treasure” documentary; directed by Hoseyn Rasti & Reza Erfani
2018, the Seal of International Award of Authenticity for Handcrafts, UNESCO; Tehran, Iran
2017, National Award of Excellence for Handicrafts; Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran; Tehran, Iran
2017, Winner of “The First Grand Competition of Design and Creativity in Contemporary Handicrafts”; Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran; Tehran, Iran
2016 & 2017, Winner of Golden Cypress and laureate of two consecutive Fajr Handicrafts Festivals; Tehran, Iran
2013, Honored in the “Best of Iranian Art’s Collection” Exhibition, curated by House of Artists Cultural Complex; Tehran, Iran