Masterpiece in Blue
Her eyes remained steady while her fingers worked precisely, weaving wool and silk into exquisite designs. Hand weaving Persian carpets had been her life’s work, helping to bring bread to the table and clothing for her little ones as they grew up.
Hamideh was an artist amidst a dwindling art form deep in central Iran near the city of Kashan. Machines were beginning to take over in recent years, but there were still those who remained true to their art and continued the tradition, a source of national pride and cherished all over the globe by those who revere fine art.
Hamideh completed dozens of carpets, each unique in its color, design, and texture. Both wool and silk were utilized, most often a combination of the two natural fibers. Working alone, each eight by ten foot carpet took nearly one year to complete,though she was paid weekly wages from the “tagere ghali.” (business owner and supervisor of carpet weavers in homes) Carpet weaving was a lesson in both patience and anticipation. As each row of knotted fibers was completed, it revealed a little more of the design. Joy and fulfillment were the gifts received by the weaver when a design reached its completion.
While Persian carpet designs were usually written and standardized, after repetitive work Hamideh had memorized them all. There was no carpet weaver in all of her village or province that could match her precision and artistry, and Hamideh’s carpets were valued highly among the carpet dealers in the bazaar.
At age 70, Hamideh came to realize that she would not be able to continue her craft much longer. Her eyes had grown dim and her hands were shaky and painful. And, after all, her children had been gone many years and had children and grandchildren of their own, lessening the financial needs of her household. As each child and grandchild had married, they received a special carpet created by her hands.
As she was comtemplating the ending of her craft, one night God spoke to Hamideh in a dream , bringing forth a vision of a carpet design. Just as carpets are hand woven one line at a time, God revealed the design to her incrementally . Knowing that blue was her favorite color, God delighted her senses with vivid shades of azure, teal, persian, and sky blue. Cerulean warblers, blue mockingbirds and mountain blue birds alternately flew into the scene carrying the varied blue silk fibers to add to the emerging picture. At times, ivory, sage, and crimson threads were intertwined to accent the blue. The revelation in progress portrayed garden flowers, leaves, and feathers. And when the heavenly picture was over halfway done, there emerged a beautiful center medallion with a sky blue background. . When the picture was complete, God commanded an angel to sign Hamideh’s name at the place where it was to be woven into the carpet. She named God’s design “Masterpiece in Blue.” This carpet would never be seen hanging at the bazaar. This one would be only for God’s pleasure.
Awakening the next morning, Hamideh went out to her courtyard to begin morning prayers. She looked up to God’s blue heaven and thanked Him for the many blessings in her life and for the dream He had given to her. She asked God for stronger vision and healthy hands so that she could complete what He had given her to do, and began writing down the details of the vision given to her. She called on her husband, Ali, and as she described the design, he sketched it to perfection. When the drawing was complete, Ali handed it to her, and she smiled, holding it close to her heart as if it were a love letter from her God.
With the vision before her, each week Hamideh set aside rials and toomans from the sale of Ali’s garden fruits and vegetables and a choice lamb, purchasing a small amount of silk fiber in the myriad shades of blue according to her vision. With patience, she gathered all that she needed until one day her provision was complete just as God had promised.
During her morning prayers in the courtyard, Hamideh offered thanks and praise to God. The vision would come to pass by His provison and the obedience of her hands. Hamideh would weave her final masterpiece all to the glory of God!
Hamideh Setareh was herself a carpet weaver, but together with her husband, Ali, ran a thriving Persian carpet business for nearly fifty years until the early 1970’s. The family tradition continues on to this day through her children, most notably her son, Rahmat, a “tagere ghali” to nearly one hundred families that still hand weave Persian carpets in their homes in villages surrounding Kashan, Iran.
Hamideh Setareh was my mother-in-law who passed away several years ago at age 86. This story is in remembrance of this wonderful woman of great faith, lived out by her joy,generosity, and loving nature.
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