Kapu Bafi or making Kapu is one of the handicrafts of Khuzestan, one of southern provinces of Iran. In the local dialect of Khuzestan or “Dezfuli”, “Kapu” refers to any sphere or crouched object. But as a craft, it describes hand woven sphere-like objects that may have lids, too. It is categorized as a kind of mat weaving and is done by weaving leaflets of palm trees around a special kind of straw-like object called “Kertak”. Kertak is a wild plant that grows in swamps and tropic climates. The stem of Kertak is very flexible and articulated just like stems of wheat, no animal feeds from Kertak and no pest spoils it. Therefore, it adds to the durability of Kapu. Kertak is used as the core around which leaflets are woven.
Kapu are woven by the masterful hands of women of Khuzestan and all of its material are natural and found in lands of this province. During recent years, the weavers have begun incorporating colorful woolen in their Kapu to add to the beauty of their products. Palm tree leaflets that are chosen to be woven into Kapu are young and white because they have not been exposed to sun for a long time. They are then soaked in water for a day.
The Kapu are categorized into three groups based on their material: 1. “Tamam Pish” that are made completely of palm tree leaves or “Pish” and no woolen. 2. “Tamam Kamva” that are made completely of woolen and no leaf. 3. A combination of leaves and woolen. In the past, they were made in three sizes of small, medium and large, whereas, today there are many sizes in between, like extra small or extra-large, to meet the necessities of the market. They are also made into different utensils which adds to the diversity of Kapu. Today objects such as vases, coasters, fruit bowl can be made from Kapu. Dezful and its surrounding villages like Shahyun are the most important centers of Kapu. Since the core fibers of Kapu, the Kartak, are sensitive to humidity, they are best kept in dry conditions.