Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan

Erbil Tezcan

Erbil TezcanFounder and owner of Wool and Silk Carpets

A new Silk Road . . .

These carpets are inspired by historic designs from places on the Silk Road: Khotanese designs from western China, Suzani designs from what is now Uzbekistan, Farahan designs from Iran, and Ottoman designs from the Ottoman Empire. In addition to preserving the history that comes with these aged beauties, I try to rearrange patterns, colors, and even the scale of design to have them appear uninterrupted.

All of these carpets were made in Afghanistan, a country at the heart of the Silk Road. Afghanistan is one of the last countries in the world where carpets are still made completely by hand with natural dyes and wool from local sheep. Hand-spun wool colored with vegetable dyes and woven with traditional techniques transform these rugs into beautiful, timeless creations. One carpet can take a team of weavers up to six months to make.

As a Turk by birth and an American citizen by residency, I am fascinated by the journeys that people, materials, and ideas make and the connections that emerge from such journeys. My work in Afghanistan is one such connection, stemming from a new Silk Road journey I have made. It’s not comfortable—I sleep on the floor of the carpet workshop whenever I visit, and I have to be careful for my security—but by sharing hardship, I have a real bond with the weavers, dyers, and washers who make the carpets. They respect my journey to them, and they treat me with hospitality. In return, I respect their skill at their craft.

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