Qashqai Sofreh

5ft 7in x 5ft 7in
Circa 19th Century
Item #: 00203

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Since sofreh plays an important role in making, maintaining, and eating of bread, and since bread is primary source of food for tribal people and villagers, sofreh acquires a significant in their household.

Having two sofrehs are essential for every tribal and rural woman: one for making dough and the other for baking bread. When the woman sits by the oven, she places a sofreh for dough at one side of her and another sofreh for bread at the other side. After baking all the blocks of dough, the first sofreh is empty and the second one is full of breads. She then wraps the four corners of sofreh around the breads, making sure that the doughs stay fresh.

Sofreh has yet another function. People sit around it in order to eat food. Most of the tribal people and villagers of Iran are poor and content. They have no other sofreh than the ones they use for bread. At meal times they bring whatever meager food they might have and place it on the sofreh they use for keeping the bread. Those who are better off have a longer sofreh, accomodating more people at meal times. This latter sofreh which is called "food sofreh" cannot be used for bread baking and is mostly spread for guests.

In addition to above uses, sofreh has ritual aspects. Most of these aspects come from the respect Muslims have for bread as God's gift and blessing. For the same reason sofreh is most often empty of any motif or design. This would also testify to its spiritual aspects: honoring poverty and denying the material world and its riches. The plain and empty sofreh of the poors is also a silent protest to the patterned and plentiful sofreh of the rich. In spite of such ample connotations behind the plain bread sofrehs, women as weavers of these sofrehs, at times are so taken by colors and design that they forgo such interpretations.