Crate of Curios part 46 – Afghanistan special

Today’s Crate is yet again really late, but for different reasons than usual. It’s been a dark day in the news – Taliban has overtaken Kabul and all of a sudden a collective deja vu has taken hold of the media, suddenly we remember the Fall of Saigon as the scenes from old movies and news clips seem to repeat themselves on the screen. History feels close to one in these moments even though it’s happening thousands of kilometres away. So, although I had already prepared a Crate for today, I decided to gather a new one from scratch, in order to take a look at the sides of Afghanistan that we might not see again for a while. And without further ado, let’s open this Crate.

  1. The first things that come to mind when one thinks about Afghanistan are probably somehow related to war. However, besides that, Afghanistan is also a home to some of the richest archaeological sites ever found. One of them is Tillya Tepe (meaning “Golden Hill”) in Jowzjan province in Northern Afghanistan that was excavated in 1978. The Soviet-Afghan team of archaeologists led by the Greek-Russian Viktor Sarianidi literally struck gold. The hoard found from six burial mounds consisted of over 20,000 ornaments, coins, etc items made of gold, silver, ivory and other precious materials. And the story of the Bactrian Gold doesn’t end here. It was considered lost for years, until it dissipated that in 1988 the current president of Afghanistan, Mohammad Najibullah had ordered to have it locked in a safe vault underneath the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul. The keys were distributed to five keyholders (tawadars) who were sworn to secrecy. In 2003, the vault was discovered and almost ordered to be cracked open by force… but the five keyholders successfully assembled just in time.

2. Fashion is another thing not usually connected with Afghanistan. Fatimah Hossaini, fashion photographer and activist, has made it her purpose to show it to the world.

3. Afghan rugs are probably the art form best known in the West from the area. However, it’s not that widely known that they have different names and origins.

4. Contemporary Afghan art has had to adapt to greatly varying conditions in the recent decades. The 2018 collective exhibition ‘Afghan Art: A Land in Conflict and Hope’ in New Delhi, provided a glimpse into the local art scene.

5. Where there’s streets, there is also street art. Meet Shamsia Hassani, the first female graffiti artist in Afghanistan.

6. Just about 33 miles north from Kabul, there is a small town that’s been known for its pottery and skilled craftsmen for centuries. It’s called Istalif.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

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