Curated by: Shoshana Stewart,
CEO of Turquoise Mountain
Photographer: Lama El Desouky, Tina Hager, Homayun Nawrozi
Turquoise Mountain brings together historic buildings, traditional crafts, business, health, education and culture in the heart of Kabul’s Old City. It was founded by HRH Prince Charles in 2006 when we began clearing 30,000 cubic metres of rubbish out of the streets of Murad Khani, a neighbourhood on the front line of Afghanistan’s decades-long civil war.
Since then, we have rebuilt over 120 buildings, all the while training over 4000 traditional masons, carpenters and builders. We installed water supply, sanitation and electricity; and built a primary school as well as a clinic serving over 100,000 patients to date. We created the Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture in Murad Khani, passing the traditions of woodwork, ceramics, jewellery and calligraphy on to the next generation. Artisans graduate, set up businesses – mostly in Murad Khani – and now work with international designers and clients. $5,000,000 in sales meant more training and jobs for almost 1,000 artisans.
These artisans have exhibited their work at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, the Venice Biennale, and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, where they drew over 400,000 people – the largest number of visitors in the last five years. An expansion of the exhibit called MASTERWORKS premiered at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2018 and will be exploring the role of art and culture in creating valuable social change.
The digital world has been bringing the artisan community of Murad Khani closer to the world. With social media connecting artisans to their clients, the videos they share with people far away from Afghanistan bring their stories and production processes to life. Once our Google Street View mapping is ready, anyone in the world will be able to take a virtual tour of the traditional winding streets of Murad Khani, as well as meet the artisans, explore the traditions, or even contribute with their knowledge.
Meet the artisans at http://turquoisemountain.org/afghanistan/artisans