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Faces of  Saffron by Kayhan

Kayhan is an Edinburgh based conceptual photographer. He uses photography as a way of communicating ideas and as a form of expressing his creativity. His projects are inspired by his personal interests in history, culture, music, literature and the arts. 


“Faces of Saffron” was inspired by the works of August Sander, a German portrait and documentary photographer from the 1920’s, whom is best known for his grand series “Faces of Our Time”.


A cross between typology and documentary work, this project took over two years from start to finish. The photos were taken in late October (during the harvest season) of 2015 in and around villages of Hadji Abaad of Kashmar, Torbat-e-Heydarieh, Shadmehr and Kalat in the North East of Iran, along the route of the ancient Silk Road. 


The most coveted spice in the world has been traded on the Silk Road for over a millennia. This region, which is as large as Germany, produces up to 90% of the world’s saffron. The cultivation of saffron is deeply rooted in this region. To this date the crocus bulbs, unique to each farm, are passed down from one generation to another.


During recent years because of the American and UN sanctions and more broadly the unfavourable political and trade climate, Iranian Saffron has primarily been exported to Spain where it is often mixed with a tiny amount of Spanish saffron and re-labeled as Spanish!

Sedigheh Ranjbar (Nane-ye-Majid) 

From Hadji Abad


She was known as (Nane-ye-Majid) in her community. Naneye-Madjid means Majid’s mum. It is customary in this region for women to be referred to as the mother of their first male born child. 


She told me how she goes on walking pilgrimages every year from her village to the city of Mashhad (the holiest city in Iran).This had helped her to stay fit and healthy in order to overcome the diabetes that she was suffering from. She was the sole bread winner for her family.


Hadj Mohammad Naser Karimi 

from Hadji Abad


The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Shi’a Muslims if they have savings that can cover an annual cost of living. A man who has completed the Hajj is called a Hadji, Mohammad Naser has completed the Hajj as demonstrated by his title; a prestigious title which symbolises status, wealth and piety. He has been a Saffron farmer all his life the same as his father and his grandfather


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