‘In Iran, people get familiar with this carpet culture from a very young age. Every family knows a producer. My mother would always bring the carpets from Mashhad, a large city in the east of Iran, where she originated from. My father loves Nain carpets. For a long time, these Nain carpets would lay on the shelves at our house. It is stored, just like gold. If you have a small, good quality Nain in Iran. It’s very expensive, you can sell it every day, every time.’

When I ask Ali what his favorite carpet is, he backfires the question to me: who is your favorite Dutch painter? To me, that question is impossible to answer. Despite the impossible question, Ali states: ‘I am very connected to carpets, especially the Kashan carpets. It is very standard and simple. You see it everywhere in Iran. If I was the boss of Iran, I would change the flag to a Kashan carpet design, not this three-color one.’

During my travels in Iran, I noticed that many people found the presence of carpets the most normal they know. Sometimes they did not understand my interest. As if you ask a Dutch person about cheese. At the end of our conversation, Ali puts me right into that same spot, as he has a story on Dutch cheese. Ali goes on: ‘My father was a famous cook in Iran. We often had Iranian customers that came from all over the world. Just like me now, they came back to Iran, for a gathering. My father would then cook for these people. At one point, these people came from The Netherlands and brought Gouda cheese. My job was to cut the cheese, make it small, and then put these small sticks into it. You cannot imagine, I ate half of the cheese. Maybe I was fourteen years old. I told my father: Papa, I have to go to Holland.’

Create a cultural bridge
By reviving old carpet by painting on them, Ali has a great deal of responsibility for the Iranian culture. The power of these paintings is hidden in the layers. These layers are not directly visible, but you can feel them when you stand in from of it. The goal of his work is to create a bridge between the carpet and the culture behind it. 

Ali brings the spirit of Iran to Germany, to me. that is fascinating. And he has great taste while doing it, the next time, when I see one of these pieces in person, I will bring some Gouda cheese.

Read more about Ali’s and see his work on his website here, and see his portfolio here. 
If you are just as excited as I am about Ali’s work, check out this video. It is spoken in Farsi, and has English subtitles:


Felix van den Belt

Felix van den Belt

Give Felix an assignment about carpets and he will go for it. He listens and asks questions. What is the history and what makes certain rugs unique? What can be said about social life around the carpets? Felix's passion for carpets prompts him to discover these questions like no other.