Embroideries of Baluchestan

Through thirteen years Keyvan Khosrovani used the embroideries of Baluchestan in innovative form to produce new designs. He did this in collaboration with Mrs.Mahmonir Djahanbani, one of the pioneers in the modern application of this traditional craft. The result of this collaboration was the best needlework embroideries of its kind, unique for its time, and used for an exclusive Imperial Haute Couture.

The principal region where these embroiderers were done was a very poor area in the heart of Taftan mountains where most families were living below poverty line.  Ironically they were asked to produce embroideries that were worn on the occasions where Caviar and Champagne were part of the minimum luxuries. The embroiderers were illiterate and not able to follow new patterns of embroidery.  They also had to take care of their children and fulfil their everyday life responsibilities at the same time as they were producing their needlework.

The innovative design of Keyvan required a relief that was uncommon and the basic traditional colours were not used. The clever solution that Mahmonir found was to paint wooden boxes with the traditional colours used but in these boxes the new colours were substituted. In order to solve the relief requirement, the solution was to embroider first with thick thread then embroider over it with fine D.M.C thread so as to cover all parts with the final colours designated by Keyvan. The embroiderers unaware of the colour substitutions were working in the traditional manner with corresponding boxes painted with colours to which they were accustomed but the result turned to be exquisite embroidery specified to the designer’s colours.

One example is the blue gown covered by needlework of Baluchestan on larger embroidered ribbons that gradually grew less wide as it approached the shoulders. The execution of the beautiful colours, the application of motifs diminishing in size were the result of a precise and careful supervision by Mahmonir to produce a masterpiece that is the result of harmonious teamwork. For a comparable piece produced for example in Parisian house of Haute Couture at least eighty artisans would have to be employed at great expense and backed by centuries of tradition.   It was a production that made Keyvan and his team proud to have harnessed an ancient tradition for an innovative and modern application. The skillful hands of Pari Zolfaghari could give shape to all these sublime creations that the last empress of Iran Farah Pahlavi would don the outfits designed by Keyvan on some of the most important occasions of her life, as queen remains a sign that she too appreciated the beauty and elegance of these productions.  The Iranian population too, slowly but surely displayed a greater appreciation for traditional crafts. It remains for today’s generation to really embrace Iranian traditions and continue the innovations introduced by Keyvan.