There’s something special about all souvenirs regardless of what they are! Buying or keeping a souvenir is like taking a piece of your journey with you. Souvenirs are like mementos, and taking them with you means how important and valuable your moments have been in a particular time or place. Many times, souvenirs recount the stories of your journeys better than words and descriptions.
When it comes to souvenirs of Iran, specific handicrafts come to mind, and the most vivid of which are the carpets. Both Persian carpets and Persian rugs have been considered to be one of the most invaluable products of Iranian art and culture in the course of history. When I asked Sankara about his preferred object as a souvenir from Iran, he replied:
Handmade Iranian carpets from the grand bazaar of Isfahan. They adorn the living rooms in my sister’s house and mine.From Sankara at Be On The Road
Manny travelers choose Persian carpets as the most valuable item to take as a souvenir. Still, there are many more Items to find and buy. In Isfahan, as you are enjoying the carpet shops around Naqsh-e Jahan Square, you’ll also come across many shops that are mainly shining in white and blue. Looking in the shop window, you’ll see a lot of plates, bowls, or jars of Mina Kari, and on each side of the window, you’ll find a lot of colored tiles. The view of these decorative handicrafts might lure you into walking into the shop, just as it did to Karin and Patrick.
When we were in Esfahan, we spotted a lot of these beautiful colored tiles (the ones they use for the mosaic in the mosques). We had to buy some of them! We ended up with 10 tiles and a little carpet. Since we are on a world trip, we shipped everything back to Switzerland. Unfortunately, not every tile made it home in one piece… but I guess this is what mosaic is about, right! 🙂From Karin and Patrick
Many people are enchanted by their patterns and symbolic designs as soon as they perceive the stories fabricated in the warp and woof of Persian rugs and carpets. Each Persian rug weaved in each city of Iran attempt to reveal the lifestyle and the characteristics of those cities. The carpet patterns of Kerman, for example, represent the exotic gardens of this city as well as its mountaintops covered fully with flowers. On the other hand, the Persian rug styles of nomads like the Bakhtiari tribe or Qashqai people follow the imagination of female weavers in these tribes as they pass among the mountains and migrate in between the seasons.
Patricia told me that she was impressed by their sublime beauty:
The art and craft traditions are incredible in Iran. Carpets are obviously highly popular, but I was surprised by the diversity of patterns and weaving styles. But we were limited in space and weight in our backpack, so we bought a double-pocket saddle bag called Khorjin, highly colorful and a testament to Iran’s weaving legacy.From Patricia and Bruno at Ze Wandering Frogs
Since Iran is renowned for its distinguished arts and handicrafts, there are many souvenirs that you might think of even before traveling to Iran. But your journey might betray your expectations, and you might find so many gifts and mementos you had never imagined. Interestingly, Jacki told me that her special pick as the souvenir was influenced by the lifestyle of Iranians and their familial relationships, although that seems weird at first.
I bought a bunch of adorable small dolls from a shop on my way to Rasht, and then bought more in Massouleh. They are so adorable, and I gave them away as gifts and also kept about 10 at home. They are dolls of little girls as well as these grandparents’ elderly-looking dolls. They are not only so cute, but they also remind me of the strong family dynamics that is so heavily emphasized in Iran and the rest of Asia (same as Taiwan and China where my parents and grandparents are from).From Jacki Ueng at Bohemian Vagabond
Not everyone finds a connection between dolls and the Iranian lifestyle, but isn’t it what souvenirs are about? I mean, to be associated with some particular message that only you can interpret?
As a person mesmerized by the architecture and structure of the local bazaar of Shiraz, Theo told me that he preferred the engravings on a ring instead of the patterns of carpets. Monabat Kari, or the delicate art of wood carving, is one of the unique handicrafts of people in Shiraz.
The souvenir I took with me was a handmade Silver ring with wood engrave made in the local market of Shiraz, one of the oldest markets in the world; I love to walk and see the products they have there, also brought a lot of magnetics and postcards from the cities that we visited.From Theo Santana
The decorative souvenirs put aside, many people like and prefer tasteful souvenirs. For some people, the taste of Baklava gives them the image of the starry nights of Yazd, just like they viewed it from one of the rooftop cafés having Baklava with their tea. Each of the cities in Iran has its particular sweets and pastries to offer, so if you’re one to have a sweet tooth, you’d definitely buy some Gaz, Baklava, Sohan, or Masghati to take home with you; just like my friend, Florian.
Iranian sweets and a fridge magnetFrom Florian Kriechbaumer
Another taste that functions as a mnemonic belongs to the lush green leaves that cover the plains and fields of Gilan Province. If you ever travel to the north of Iran to visit Gilan and Masouleh, you can smell the fresh tea leaves harvested even while you’re on the road. Drinking tea has interwoven with the texture of Iranian culture and lifestyle. It is most unlikely to come to Iran and not be invited to drink tea in an Iranian house. For Kamila, Persian tea has been the key to making her trip unforgettable:
Tea! Lots and lots of tea! Half of my backpack was packed with tea on my way back from Iran, and now, whenever one of my friends goes to Iran, I ask them to bring me Persian tea. I’ve always been a big fan of black tea, but the one in Iran was extraordinary, the best one I’ve ever had. On my last day, I went to a small tea shop at Kashan market and spent all my money on tea – I didn’t regret it for a single moment.From Kamila Napora at My Wanderlust
My trip to Iran has also changed my perception of drinking tea. In Poland, most people make tea from bags since it’s convenient. I don’t think I’ve seen teabags anywhere in Iran; the tea served there was leafed, and now I can’t imagine drinking teabags anymore; they just don’t taste good, unlike the tea leaves.
One of the things that you’d miss after your journey to Iran is the taste of Persian cuisine. Persian food’s essential ingredients and spices can be another souvenir for either yourself or family and friends. Saffron is Iran’s red gold and one of the most precious spices in Persian culinary. David thought saffron might be one of the best souvenirs to take with him, but you might find pomegranate sauce, Golab (Rosewater), sumac, or cinnamon as your favorite souvenir of Persian kitchen.
For souvenirs, I took the traditional saffron, some high-quality, low-cost silk, great handmade leather bag, and a beautiful suit. All beautiful things and very affordable for European.From David Bakker
Besides all the options mentioned so far, a travel blogger might find his photos and diaries the most precious souvenir for himself and his audience. However, that might not be enough for the family. When it comes to family, our souvenirs and their value might exceed the ordinaries. Shared histories might provide you with wonderful ideas for souvenirs that no one really expects and thinks of. Robert chose something that might be a random object to me or anyone else, but it has a deeper meaning for himself.
I took photos and stories for myself. For my family members, I bought a variety of things. Most notably, I bought my sister a lot of camel paraphernalia. These are our favorite animals (we had a stuffed camel that we shared, growing up), so it was special to bring back figurines and other camel-related toys from Iran.From Robert at Leave Your Daily Hell
Although this country’s rich culture and history lure almost everyone to venture for its journey, traveling to Iran as an Islamic country might seem complicated for female travelers. Ironically, the seemingly burden of Hijab may turn to a reminder of your sweet days in Iran. Interestingly, clothes and fabrics you buy to keep to the dress code may become a memento for yourself. Persian culture and history have found their way into the patterns and designs of manteaus and scarfs. So, you’ll find beautiful pieces of clothing to take with you as souvenirs, just like Aimee.
I took home some beautiful material that I got in a market in Tehran. I used it to cover my head while I was in your country. Friends also took pocket knives as they were beautifully carved wood.From Craig and Aimee at Kinging-It
You might also end up having a piece of cloth as the only token of your trip if you’re a full-time traveler like Alex.
Ah, I’m not really one for souvenirs! As a full-time traveler, I’m very picky about what I put in my backpack. My only souvenirs were the rainbow manteau I bought to adhere to the local dress code (a must as a female traveler!), and the SIM card I used while in the country.From Alex Reynolds at Lost With Purpose
It really depends on your personal preferences and priorities, but even very small worthless objects are able to carry a profound meaning. Souvenirs are gifts given out by places, and I boldly suggest you not reject that gift, regardless of what it is. Accepting the present, you’ll take a piece of that place with all its attributing features and expressive nuances. Wishing for a second chance to travel and buy her favorite souvenirs, Inês told me why she didn’t have the opportunity to take anything with herself:
I actually didn’t get any souvenirs as I was traveling with the smallest of backpacks and budgets. However, when I go back to Iran, I would love to bring a carpet with me (of course) and some beautiful Minakari Plates.From Ines at Mundancas Constantes
Taking Inês’ experience into account, you might not want to lose your first chance to take your favorite souvenirs with you. Besides the many tokens that you might become fond of for their associated meaning, Iran has a lot of special souvenirs, handicrafts, and artistic gifts to offer, about which you can learn more in this blog: Best Handicrafts of Iran: Souvenirs from the Past. Each of these souvenirs has its own stories of ancient history, traditional culture, and the memories of a nation’s people.