Kabul Culture on Display
Constructed in the Sackler's International Gallery, an 8000 square foot "court yard" showcases crafts, videos, and artifacts in "Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan." Centered by a pavilion with cushions where visitors are invited to relax, the exhibit illuminates the legacy and revival of the country's rich traditions which had been on the verge of extinction.
Master woodworkers have carved Himalayan cedar into intricate arcades, window frames, jali screens. Fashioned of intricate lattice designs, the structures are joined without a nail in sight.
Jewelry designs vary among many Afghan ethnic groups with styles unique to each region. Vibrant blue lapis, rubies, emeralds are fashioned by hand into bangles, earrings, necklaces of 22-krat yellow gold. A video illustrates the intricate, patient work required to create one of the necklaces on display.
Afghanistan is one of the last countries in the world where carpets are still made completely by hand with wool from local sheep dyed naturally and woven into timeless botanical and geometric designs from Silk Road regions.
A series of slides and a cascade of pots-in-progress illustrate the steps involved in making pottery. Good seams of clay, natural materials for glazing, wood for firing the kilns enable local artisans to create ceramics of great beauty. Second-generation potter Abdul Matin Malekzadah is among the teams of Afghan craftspeople who will come to America in pairs to demonstrate their work and lecture on the heritage and techniques of their handicrafts.
The process of creating ceramics is explained through slides and examples
Craftspeople such as Abdul Matin Malekzadah will journey to Washington to demonstrate their skills
One recent visitor to the Sackler was Former First Lady Laura Bush who toured the exhibit and introduced a new book describing the travails and achievements of notable Afghan women.
Former First Lady Laura Bush visited the Turquoise Mountain exhibit at the Sackler
Until travel to the region is more practical, the exhibit at the Freer/Sackler is a fruitful introduction to the rich traditions and culture of the ancient civilization which stretches back far beyond the era of the Silk Road .