Due to its center position on the Silk Road, Afghanistan has developed its own artistic culture throughout the centuries. Unfortunately, decades of war and civil unrest nearly destroyed this rich heritage. In old Kabul, the Murad Khani district, once a dynamic center for crafts, fell into ruin. Tons of garbage pilled up in the once beautiful woodcrafted yards. In 2006, a British Foundation was created under the name “Turquoise Mountain” to revitalize the old Kabul center and its ancient crafts. Afghan refugees came back from neighborhood countries to teach a new generation of artists.
At the Sackler Gallery you can watch videos, touch beautiful wood arcades crafted out of Himalayan cedar (I love the smell of this wood!) made without any nails and carpets. You also can admire calligraphy, ceramics, jewelry design.
Turquoise Mountain has helped the artisans find high end markets for their art. They receive orders from luxury hotels and businesses all over the world.
It’s a great initiative from The Sackler Gallery to show us another image of Afghanistan than the one we unfortunately get in the news.
Artists from the Murad Khani district in Kabul are invited by the gallery to demonstrate their craft live in the museum on a regular basis. http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/current/turquoisemountain/artisans.asp
Don’t miss this chance to see old traditions come alive before your eyes. Check days and schedules before you go.