ZAN ARTEFACTS | The colourful baskets of Isfahan, Persia

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"Zan is a beautiful, strong word that actually translates as Woman. We are named in honour of the incredible women we work with."

Gola Ardestani, founder of Zan Artefacts uses her voice to show the world who Iranian women are. Honoring the incredible talents of the female artisans the brand works with, she celebrates their culture and empowers them with the support of other women all around the world.  

It would be lovely if you could introduce yourselves and tell us a little more about your personal journey?

Zan Artefacts was founded in 2020 by Gola Ardestani. Born in the religious, historic city of Isfahan in Iran, Gola left to live in England where she could pursue her passion in music and singing freely. Although she is currently living in exile and may not be able to go back to Iran, vivid memories of her homeland are treasured.  Gola firmly believes that women can be ambassadors for one another. If one of us has a voice, we must use it to elevate others.  Now is the time to show what women in Iran have been doing; how they have empowered each other, how they have kept traditions, art and music alive and have pushed forward with the least available opportunities.

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What motivated you to create Zan Artefacts and what is the inspiration behind the brand?

Kapus are so special to Gola, reminding her of the beautiful and colourful days of her childhood when she sat next to her mother and watched her teaching sewing to hundreds of women in her hometown of Isfahan. Her mother kept her personal sewing kit in big, round Kapus. Zan Artefacts was borne from Gola’s wish to show the world who Iranian women are. By celebrating their culture and ancient traditional techniques, this brand empowers women by providing them with independence and knowledge that they can survive with their skills. Working with Zan Artefacts shows them that they are valued and helps them to understand that their work is loved; they are not alone and are supported by other women all around the world.

Zan artefacts colourful baskets in red, yellow, blue and neutral tones
You make vibrant pieces for home decor and decorative storage. What is the history and craft behind these beautiful creations?

The word Kapu describes a handcrafted, spherical shape fashioned by weaving leaflets of palm trees or Kertak. This traditional technique is thousands of years old and one that has passed through the generations; a legacy to be protected. Date palm trees have been cultivated in Iran for many purposes since the beginning of the Achaemenid dynasty. Using palm’s natural resources, Kapu can be made entirely of their young, white leaves (Tamam Pish), woven with vibrant, colourful wools (Tamam Kamva) or a combination of both. 

Zan artefacts baskets and trays in yellow, orange and green

Who are the artisans creating these pieces and what is your pledge to them?

Zan is a beautiful, strong word that actually translates as Woman. We are named in honour of the incredible women we work with.  We value our talented artisans and respect their culture and community - always building relationships based on trust. Iranian women are passionate about their craft and weaving techniques which have been handed down through the female generations for thousands of years. Working for themselves offers a sense of empowerment which is further strengthened with the knowledge that they are sharing their artistry with the world.

We are very curious about your beautiful Naneh baskets and Maman trays! Could you tell us what you put inside them?

All of our baskets and trays are given female names; Naneh translates as Grandmother and Maman of course means Mother.  When we aren't decorating the table with the Maman trays, we hang this set on the wall - it looks so striking displayed in this way.  And we use our Naneh baskets to store all sorts of things from food to jewellery however more often than not, they keep our secret stash of chocolates safe!

Naneh baskets and Maman trays decoration ideas