Shopping in Iran: Where to Go For Your Souvenirs

Local vendor at the bazaar in Turkey | Richard I'Anson
Local vendor at the bazaar in Turkey | Richard I'Anson

In a traditional covered bazaar, shops selling the same product or craft gather in a particular area, making shopping in Iran easy.

Small bazaars are simple to navigate, but larger ones like those in Tehran and Tabriz encompass entire districts. Within such bazaars you’ll come across mosques, restaurants and cafes, caravanserais for storage, and perhaps a hammam or theological school. Having an Iranian guide you around would be wise!

Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz - go shopping in Iran - (c)blondinrikardShopping at Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz, Iran ©blondinrikard

The following are recommended for Iranian souvenirs:

by Carmen Aim

Khatam

Khatam is a marquetry mosaic made of wood and brass beads, these are used to beautify products including pen and jewellery boxes.

Qalamzan

This is the name for Iranian engraved silver, copper and bronzeware. Watch the creators in Esfahan’s Grand Bazaar work on items such as decorative dishes.

 

 

For the greatest choice, purchase the traditional Iranian souvenirs of khatam and qalamzan in Esfahan or Moshir Caravanserai, Shiraz.

Mina

The intricate enameled metal ware of mina is often found in exquisite blues. Shop for mina-ornamented vases, boxes, bowls, and candle-holders.

 

Mina is a specialty of Esfahan, available in the Grand Bazaar, which you should be certain not to miss when you go shopping in Iran.

Carpets

Esfahan, Tehran, and Tabriz offer excellent selections of Persian carpets from all over the country.  As well as traditional medallion style, there are picture carpets, and gabbeh – thicker, simple-patterned nomad rugs.  For a good range of gabbeh, browse the Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz.

Spices

Colourful spices, including saffron, make a useful gift, and can be purchased throughout Iran. If you’re travelling to Mashhad, consider buying saffron there. Prices may be cheaper since it is produced in the region.

Fashion

For unusual clothing head to Shiraz’s Vakil Bazaar for sparkly skirts and dresses, as worn by local Qashqai nomads.

 

 

Although some prices in the bazaars are fixed, for most products you can haggle while you’re shopping in Iran. Relax, have fun, and you might gain a great bargain!

 

Carmen Aim is a New Zealander who has lived in Iran for 11 years. She writes novels of history and adventure. In November, for the third time, Carmen will be joining in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an event in which contestants attempt to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in one month. 2015 saw nearly 500,000 participate from throughout the world.

Iran

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