Rahim
Walizada

"Rahim Walizada is an artist and designer for whom the attainment of beauty embodies both the reason and the necessity for producing art. Walizada comes from three generations of craftspersons and antique dealers. An appreciation of the nature of materials is inherent to his outlook on the world. His work acquires its form and substance from beyond, or despite, war. His carpets (exhibited at the 2005 Venice Biennale), fabrics, designs for houses, hotels and restaurants, majolicas and interiors are all “completely Afghan”, from their conception to the labour used to make or build them. According to Walizada, the only things he has to import are the electric wires. His work is a reflection based on a search for beauty in the possible confluences of past and present. Walizada’s art makes use of recycled material in a contemporary reconsideration of traditional motifs and styles, combined with what he defines as “petty thefts” from drawings, tales and traditions originating from all parts of the world. The result is a unique and poetic mixture. Not without pride, Walizada recalls the surprised reaction of one of the few artisans left in a remote mountain village whom he had commissioned to make a collection of majolicas. “Are you really sure? I’ve never seen anything like it!” were his words. For Walizada, the quest for beauty is a way of nurturing ideas of love and peace, to enhance the values of friendship and family against the destabilising effects of a seemingly endless story of crisis and war.”

by Francesca Recchia

Handicraft
tradition

Textile Handicrafts of Afghanistan’s many traditions reflect the diverse cultures represented within its borders. In particular, the northern part of Afghanistan has experienced the propagation of cultures from Central Asia as it encountered the rise and fall of miscellaneous civilizations and various tribes escaping from wars and drought. The art of embroidery and fabric handicrafts is rooted in the cultural history of Afghanistan. For example, embroidery by the Uzbeks, Hazaras, and Tajiks are world-renowned. Pashtun embroidery is very popular among many tribes within Afghanistan.

Using splendid techniques, embroidering is traditionally done by Afghan women and girls. They decorate the fabrics with gold and silver-colored threads made of wool or silk. They embroider everyday items such as small figures, tapestries, and bedspreads, as well as seasonal items like dresses and hats for weddings and holidays. During the night, free from the house chores of the day, women have the opportunity to embroider in an intimate familial atmosphere. The embroidering skills of women are widely admired, and they are most openly appreciated when guests visit for weddings and holidays.

Through embroidery, women weave the heart of the family into a physical form and enrich family history.

Styles vary depending on region and family. On top of preserving the tradition of embroidery, each woman puts creativity and imagination into her original work; this is why Afghan embroidery varies so drastically stylistically. However, this age-old tradition was virtually discontinued and almost completely lost due to 23 years of war. Today, since peace has been regained and refugees and evacuees have gradually returned to their homeland, time is witnessing a slow revival of embroidery as an art form as demand for local handicrafts has increased over the last few years.

Kabul
afghanistan

Chuk Palu and Rahim Walizada will take you on a journey through the hidden beauty of Afghanistan

Afghanistan was an important crossroads, dominated by other civilizations throughout its history.

Afghanistan is a country made of stories. Stories of war, love, enmity and beauty. Memories of the past, the understanding of the present, and the imaginati on of the future are elaborated and narrated through poetry, the sapience of ancient proverbs, and a long and deeply rooted custom of oral history.

Objects, as much as words, carry this wisdom in a long tradition of craftsmanship that bears witness to a rich and diverse geography and history. Afghanistan has been a cultural and commercial hub, a cradle of artistic, musical, religious and economic exchanges along the route of the Silk Road that has connected East and West for centuries. Words, objects, ideas, and beliefs travelled, mingled, and morphed leaving on the country an everlasting mark.

Three decades of war have had a dramatic impact on Afghanistan’s economy, heritage and culture. Much has been lost, but the seeds of that great cultural ferment have been quietly preserved by artists and craftsmen who nurtured their practices despite risks and threats.