Tabriz Silverwork

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Regaining Sparkle

Tabriz is known more for its carpets, pottery, jewels and precious stones than silverwork.

Gorgin Shahnazarian, an Iranian Christian, is a Tabrizi artist who has spent a lifetime creating silverworks.

“I learnt silverworks at the age of 16 and I have been at it for 55 years now,” he said.
He characterizes silverwork as a form of art and said silverworks were popular in Turkey, from where it proliferated in Tabriz in 1915.

Incidentally, most old craftsmen of Tabriz producing silverwork are Christians.


Silver is a precious metal discovered in about 600 BC. Apart from the historical precedence of silverworks, most people do not know enough about this beautiful artistic endeavor.

Today many objects are made of silver, such as trays, candle-holders, fruit dishes, cups and other decorative objects.

Previously, silver objects were considered manifestations of aristocracy due to their high prices. But this attitude has changed, as more people decorate their homes with silverworks, which can also be a valuable asset for the family.

Shahnazarian said the Iranian silver industry has advanced and most people visiting Tabriz from other cities or foreign countries like to buy silver objects as souvenirs.
He also said women like silverworks more than men.

“However, I must say different social strata like silverworks and buy them depending on their needs. Elderly people like old silverworks, while the youth beginning married lives prefer silver mirrors and candle holders. Moreover, many parents give silverworks as gifts to their children on religious and national occasions,” he said.

Changing Times

Mohammad Dabbaghi is another silverwork artist who has been active for 45 years.
Referring to the governing cultural conditions in the society, he said some people think that only the well-to-do and affluent can buy silver objects, but this is not correct.

“People can buy silver objects for their daughters who get married instead of china dishes that break easily. Silver objects do not break and they are easy to maintain, as they can be cleaned with a wet piece of cloth,” he said.

Dabbaghi noted that most elderly people buy silver watch chains and rings.
Ali Sajedi, who was a gold-maker until a few years ago, became acquainted with silverworks.

“Silverwork is a combination of art, technique and industry. Today, even people who did not know much about silverworks until recently are buying silver objects to decorate their homes,” he said.

Fortunately, the youth are taking more interest in this old art. Today, many youngsters work with old masters of silverworks to learn the secrets of this craft.

Ramin Eskandarzadeh, a 27-year-old Tabrizi silver artist, said he learnt silverwork from his father six years ago and has also taught the art to three people.

“In Iran, the artistic aspects of silverwork is not heeded that much. People do not prefer silver as much as they prefer gold and jewelry, and they think that only the rich have the purchasing power to buy silver objects,” he said.

Eskandarzadeh compared silver objects to crystal dishes and objects made from other metals and said all objects have their own particular beauty.

“But silver objects are durable and can be sold when the family has financial needs,” he said.

State organizations have paid more attention to the issue of training silver artists, in view of the importance of silver industry in Tabriz. Facilities can be extended to youths for pursuing the craft in vocational centers and centers affiliated to handicraft industries.

Silverwork can help generate a great deal of job opportunities, as the sector also has strong export potentials.

Source: Iran Daily

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