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Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan

5 MARCH 2016 - 29 JANUARY 2017

Freer and Sackler Galleries
1050 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC  20013 

From its critical position on the ancient Silk Road that stretches from Europe to China, Afghanistan absorbed traditions from India, Persia and Central Asia and blended them into a distinct artistic culture. Decades of civil unrest that began in the 1970s nearly destroyed this vital heritage. Many of Afghanistan's artisans were forced to leave their country or give up their craft. The old city of Kabul, once a bustling center of craft and commerce, fell into ruin.

The British non-governmental organization Turquoise Mountain has transformed the Murad Khani district of Old Kabul from slum conditions into a vibrant cultural and economic center.  The organization has renovated historic buildings, opened a primary school and a medical clinic, and rebuilt necessary infrastructure.  It has founded Afghanistan's premier institution for vocational training in the arts.  Dedicated to teaching a new generation of Afghan artisans in woodwork, calligraphy, ceramics, jewelry design and other crafts, Turquoise Mountain is reviving the nation's proud cultural legacy.

The exhibition brings a small piece of Kabul's old city to Washington in the form of an 8,000 square foot courtyard, modeled after the Turquoise Mountain Institute.  Afghan woodworkers have created magnificent wood arcades, screens and a pavilion, all carved by hand from more than three tons of Himalayan cedar and shipped to the US.  During the duration of the exhibition 18 artisans will come to Washington to bring the exhibition to life by demonstrating their art, sharing their experiences, and allowing visitors to encounter Afghanistan's art and culture firsthand.

More information about this exhibition can be found on the Sackler Freer website.

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