Felix about his fascination for Persian carpets
”I am on holiday in Georgia in the summer of 2017. There I met Pouria, an Iranian guy. We decide to combine our travel plans and have discussions about the differences between Iran and the Netherlands. During the journey, we learn a lot from each other. Among other things, I learn that Iran is an interesting country to visit.”

Hand-knotted masterpieces
“A year later I decide to visit my new friend in Iran. In the summer of 2018, I hitchhike from Tbilisi, Georgia, to Bandar Abbas, Iran. Once in Iran, I come across carpets in several places. In the mosques, in people’s homes, and in offices. Most people don’t seem to find the presence of these rugs very interesting. I am invited to parties, wine and watching “the Godfather 2.” I do not care about those things in Iran, I have done those things 1000 times at home. The carpets fascinate me more. Hand-knotted masterpieces, the technique, the romance, and the cultural history are simply fascinating. I want to know what makes one carpet more special than another. Before I realize it myself, I travel from bazaar to bazaar and I ask almost everyone I meet if they know someone who has, produces or sells carpets.

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Research on the carpet trade
‘As a result of my passionate search, I have gathered many contacts. Several carpets have since been imported to the Netherlands. In September 2018 I start a Masters in Cultural Anthropology in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I travel back to Iran to do research on the carpet trade. Title: Ties that bind the daily lives of carpet traders. The study follows the daily life of carpet traders in the context of Iran, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. I try to make trade understandable on the basis of three themes: Kinship Ties, Moral Economy and Everyday Diplomacy. I am actually trying to describe the daily life of these traders in relation to the one-sided and customary geopolitical and economic rhetoric.

An ode
“The result will hopefully contribute to understanding global trade networks from the perspective of” globalization from below “. In other words, the intimate and personal aspects of global carpet trade. Few ethnographies have been written about the social life of contemporary carpet traders, but there are many assumptions and opinions about how trade develops in the face of globalization and geopolitical conflicts. In addition, my thesis is also secretly an ode to the amazingly beautiful and ancient culture of Iran.

Photos: Felix van den Belt