THE ARDENT ENTHUSIAST

Monthly Archives: February 2014

Balkh, Northern Afghanistan – 2002 The Northern Alliance, backed by American firepower, quickly drove the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001, and  2002 was probably the best year for tomb raiding. I met Sher Mohammad, the local Mujihaddin commander, in an antique shop in Mazar-i-Sharif. He lived in a small village next to some bronze-aged graveyards just outside the walls of Balkh. We hit it off after I recited some Sufi poetry in… Read More

Kohistani Embroidery – silk on cotton; 76cm x 76cm – Late 19th Century This is the first piece of Afghan embroidery that I ever bought … and it turned out to be from the Swat Valley in Northern Pakistan. I shared a house with some friends in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1972 -73. Across the street lived the famed German carpet and textile expert, Thomas Knorr and his wife Undine. His 1973 textile… Read More

I have never seen another silk Tibetan saddle carpet, though I have read of two others. Since they don’t grow silk worms in Tibet the carpet was probably made in a Chinese workshop as a special order for a Tibetan nobleman. My best guess to its age would be mid-20th Century – 1930-1959. I bought it in the winter of 1987 from the seasonal Tibetan nomads who used to winter at Boudhanath… Read More

Back in the 1970s, when I lived in Kabul, one of our favorite night’s out involved dinner at the Green Hotel and an evening of live Afghan music played by the rebab master Amir Mohammad Jaan. When I was in Peshawar in 2006 my Afghan friend Attaullah Khan told me that Amir Mohammad Jaan was in town and that he was coming to Attaullah’s penthouse carpet shop on the top floor of… Read More