Weaving giveh (light cotton summer shoes)

Country: Iran
Weaving giveh (light cotton summer shoes)
Klash weaving in Marivan, photo: Kevin Murray

Giveh making is a small industry in which the outcome of several skilful craftsmen is put together to create traditional shoes which adapt to the climate of Iran. We know little of the evolution of this industry, but the most ancient documents indicating its existence concern with the year 1105 in Fars province. 

The two main centres of giveh production are Abadeh and Marivan. Abadeh is a town on the way from Isfahan to Shiraz. The Iranian giveh (maleky) has an underlying part named shiveh, which is very resistant and long-lasting and has a cotton cover. The latter is knitted by women by means of a giveh knitting needle and tight double cotton thread in the style of the sewing which is done on a sleeping coverlet.  

Weaving giveh (light cotton summer shoes)
Giveh making in Abadeh

The second person in charge, who is called a cobbler, is one who prepares the sole of giveh. He collects pieces of tough cotton strips, burlap and old shabby cloth, puts and arranges them in wet tragacanth. Then he puts the wet strips in an arrangement to make a hole in the middle of them in such a way that they finally are attached together. This is locally called daval making. This process is very difficult and requires a lot of skill to prepare a giveh sole. That is why most giveh makers prepare the sole by using old second hand worn tyres, which has led to a decline in the sole making business. The third person is the one who sews giveh. The prepared shoe sole is put at his hand and after doing a series of final finishings, he attaches the knitted cover to the prepared sole. The top quality giveh is stretched and there is a piece of real leather inside the heel. They have also a very tough front part which is locally called sangbor, meaning stone cutter. Of the distinct characteristics of giveh is that due to its simple raw material it is cool, light and washable. That is why it is very popular among villagers and others who are fond of this kind of Iranian ancient shoe.

Marivan is in Iranian Kurdistan and is famous for its version of giveh named klash. The men produce the sole from a compacted blue and red cotton ribbon and the women sew the white uppers. These are sold to Kurdish populations in other countries, particularly Iraq. Traditionally the klash were worn by men and suited walking over rocky mountains. Marivan has been designated a World Craft City for Giveh.

This entry is supplied by the Iran Culture, Heritage and Tourism Organisation – Isfahan