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Rural carpet weaving cooperatives

Iran has a rich history in weaving carpets dating back to over 2,500 years ago. Originally, Persian carpets were woven by traveling nomads to cover floors and Gers, which are round dwellings that are easily packed up.

The legacy and tradition of carpet making lives on in Iran with intricate designs, lavish colors, and peerless artistry. Cooperative in rural communities play a significant role in the local economy and help support and organize the related trades of carpet weaving. In essence they organize chain productions by supplying material and services to local carpet weavers while eliminating costly middlemen. Such collectives safeguard the rights and income of weavers who frequently receive the least amount of profits from their products.

Cooperatives are also important because they help revive and sustaining the ancient tradition of carpet weaving. Based on figures from the National Carpet Center, there are over 1,900 cooperatives scattered around the country. Currently, there are over 100 carpet weaving complexes and over 5,000 centralized and non-centralized workshops nationwide too. The majority of handmade carpets are produced by women. Women in rural areas play a key role in the agriculture sector which provides wool, silk, and cotton to weavers. Data from Iran’s Statistical Center show there are 10 million rural and nomadic women who contribute to agricultural production in the country. That’s around 49% of the entire rural community. And cooperatives help protect the hard earned income of women as well.

Statistics from the Customs Administration shows exports of hand-woven carpets increased by 14% since last year. Exports of these items have generated well over $82 million in hard currency in the first quarter of this year. The government has plans to increase its exports through promoting online sales as well as pursuing Chinese markets. According to the National Carpet Center, around 3.5 million square meters of handmade carpet are woven in the country each year.

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