New Zealand Listener
The dying art of the Qashqai Image Credit: New Zealand Listener
The dying art of the Qashqai Image Credit: New Zealand Listener

The Dying Art Of The Qashqai

A documentary celebrates the nomadic rug makers of Iran amidst reminiscences from a famous knight.

Fiona Rae

‘I love Iran,” says Anna Williams in The Kiwi, the Knight and the Qashqai (Choice TV, Monday, 8.30pm). “Maybe I was born in the wrong country.”

Williams, a skilled orientalrug repairer, is captured in this documentary on one of her many visits to Iran, where she visits the bazaars of Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz.

She has visited Iran over the years in order to learn the tricks of the trade, new techniques and to supplement her yarns. As New Zealand’s only independent rug repairer, she has “no peer group, no professional body” so she needs to keep up with the industry by herself.

But, in particular, she goes to Iran to visit the Qashqai nomads who are famous for their vibrant costumes and colourful, detailed rugs. What she finds is a lifestyle that has changed dramatically since David Attenborough filmed his documentary about the Qashqai, Woven Garden, in 1975.

In something of a coup, director Anna Cottrell asked Sir David for an interview and he obliged. When Williams asks why he was willing to be interviewed, he tells her it was the uniqueness of the request. After all, it’s not every day he’s asked to talk about the Qashqai.

In 1975, the Qashqai were migrating north on camels and horses and many of the women would weave during the month-long trek. However, nowadays, that journey takes five hours in a truck or car. Williams also finds that m


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