The Turquoise Mountain that exists today is a non-profit, non-governmental organization originally established at the request of President Hamid Karzai and Prince Charles. It aims to revitalize traditional Afghan arts and crafts and at the same time restore the war ravaged historic and artistic Murad Khane quarter of Kabul.
30 years of conflict have impoverished the people. They so desperately need the education and support to move forward again after so long. They need hope that there will be a tomorrow without war. So what Turquoise Mountain aims to do is to "create jobs, skills and a renewed sense of national identity " and pride in their cultural heritage. The foundation created the Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture in 2006. The jewelry school is one of the latest training groups.
British designer and anthropologist Pippa Small collaborated with the foundation to design a special jewelry collection using local gemstones like lapiz lazuli, tourmaline, emeralds and rubies. The raw stones really do evoke the ruggedness of the country. Her interest in Afghanistan stemmed from the time she was involved in creating replicas of 2000 year-old Afghan jewelry for the movie about Alexander the Great.
The inspiration for the designs came from different Afghan jewelry styles and techniques. The pieces are all handmade by the craftsmen she worked with in Kabul. The collection is available at Elegant Roots, Overstock and Barneys in New York.
This inspiring video shows not only the collection but also Pippa's involvement in the project and her experiences in Kabul. It also covers what the foundation is all about and what they have achieved so far.
She was initially concerned how she would be received as a woman. She had worn head coverings and was mindful of not offending. She needn't have worried. In the end, they accepted her as she was..... a fellow artisan.
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