Persian handicrafts: Namad-mali in Semnan
The craft of Namad-mali (literally meaning felt beating) has long been practiced in villages of Semnan province to produce Namad (a traditional carpet) out of woolen fabrics by rolling and pressing them.
The method of making felts are almost similar in different areas of Iran, but they sometimes vary in color, pattern, and thickness. Felts are known to be the oldest floor covering that was made by mankind. There is a famous story told by the felt makers of Semnan, narrating that Soleiman the prophet had a son who was a shepherd. According to Visit Iran, he wanted to make a textile from the wool of his sheep. He tried so hard only to fail. In despair and anger, he beat the wool by fist while he wept over them. His tears poured on the wool and intertwined them together. And that is how the first felt was made. Felt is a kind of textile that is made without the use of a loom. It is not knitted but is created based on two basics. First, moisture and second applying pressure. In the process of making felts, the water is poured over layers of used materials while they are being compressed, causing the fibers to hook together into a single piece of fabric. The most commonly used material of felts is sheep wool that is sheared in springtime. It has long fibers and comes in different colors. A piece of felt can be made in one day of work which is a reason why this product is not very expensive. However, it is a very exhausting process. To create a felt, the maker first lays pieces of colored wool on Karbas, a kind of fabric that is also used for painting canvases, according to the final design. Then layers of combed wool are arranged on top. The Karbas is rolled together, holding layers of wool. The felt maker begins rubbing and pressing the roll while applying hot water repeatedly and step by step. Felts are mainly floor coverings. But they are also used to make other tools, such as Korsi (a low table with a heater underneath it in Iran) cover, horse cover, kitchen utensils, dolls, and clothes. Patterns and designs of felts are commonly created by abstract motifs inspired by nature. Some examples are Chahar Goosh-e Khorshidi, a symbol of the Sun, paisley, or diamonds. The history of Semnan dates back to ancient Iran when the city was part of the Median Empire. At the time of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, Semnan was a magnificent city. After the attack of Alexander, Semnan became famous as Koomesh. The great era of the prosperity of this city began after the advent of the Parthian Empire. Due to its location, which was on the traffic center of the north, south, east, and west, Semnan had always been the subject of a struggle for power in the Sassanid period. In the Sassanid and post-Islamic periods, the city was the basis of central governments in the area.