For centuries the Silk Road has been a channel for the diffusion of extremely skilled artisanate, converting everyday objects to beautiful art pieces. One of the most important branches is textile art. Unfortunately the free flow of goods has been interrupted nowadays and the difficult economic situation in the countries along the ancient Silk Road does not benefit the request of high-art luxury items. Consumers in the local markets prefer bright, flashy and affordable, machine produced embroidrey. Abroad customers request high-quality hand made items, but they form only a small fraction of the market. So the traditional artisans switch to more profitable methods of productions.
But there are also opposite developments, often supported from abroad. One of these companies is Zardozi ("Gold-embroidery"), an Afghan NGO that employs 91 people in Kabul, Jalalabad and Peshawar, manifacturing and selling the home production of more than 1500 home-working women.
Zardozi works on both sides of difficult Afghan-Pakistani border, creating livelihoods for Afghans in refuge. As well, they embroider and manufacture goods within Afghanistan, so that returning Afghans can bring their skilled livelihoods home with them.
They offer a women-clothes line as well as highly decorative accessoires. Cross-stitches from different regions give us an insight on the most private beauty of an endangered culture...
I highly admire the lovely work of those women and I love the idea that not only old artisan techniques are preserved, but that women are encouraged to contribute to the family income with their own hands.
And aren't these recycled Burkhas just gorgeous? Handbags and bottle-covers add new meanings to these extremely discussed pieces of fabric!