Stephen Shucart is currently Associate Professor of English at Akita Prefectural University on the Sea of Japan. Previously he was co-owner of Triplegem Lapidary in Kathmandu, Nepal. He has been traveling since 1972.
He has been involved with buying and selling turquoise and lapis lazuli since the late 1960s when he was a jeweler selling his wares on the streets of San Francisco. In 1972, he first traveled overland to Asia, stopping in Mashhad, Iran to purchase black spider-web matrix turquoise mined near Nishapur, and after a year living in Afghanistan, traveled to Nepal and purchased kilos of old Tibetan turquoise beads in Kathmandu. In the 1970s he bought treasury-grade lapis lazuli from the government of Afghanistan. During the 1980s he was a gemologist and lapidary, co-owner, with Dharma Dan Rollins, of Triple Gem Lapidary in Boudhanath, Nepal. One of their specialties was to recut broken Tibetan turquoise beads into cabochons. Their other specialty was Treasury-grade lapis lazuli, purchased from Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Mujahideen. Central Asian carpets and textiles were also collected and traded during that period.
The 1990s saw only three trips back to Nepal from a new home base in Japan, but, starting with a 2002 trip to Afghanistan, he has been back on the road ever since. Four trips to Afghanistan, two pilgrimages to Mount Kailash in Western Tibet, two trips to Ladakh, a trip along the Silk Road ruins in Xinjiang and down the KKH to Hunza, Gilgit, Chitral, and Peshawar, a 21-day horseback trek through the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia, more silk road tripping to Samarkand, Bokhara, and Khiva, and trekking in Kazakhstan. Many trips through Southeast Asia -Thailand, Cambodia, Laos – a trip to Sri Lanka, a walking safari through South Africa’s Kruger National Park, wandering the Pre-Incan ruins of Peru, almost annual returns to Nepal, and family vacations to Belize, Bali, and Viet Nam round out some of the recent travels.
The focus of this blog is two-fold; first, to document a personal collection going back over 40 years so that his children will know what they have inherited if, perchance, his rickety bus misses a hairpin turn in the Himalayas. Second, to give advice and suggestions for anyone who is interested in the bargains available in the bazaars of Asia, plus a chance convey tall tales and adventures from a lifetime in Asia…sort of the 21st Century equivalent of an early 20th century retired Wild West outlaw regaling his grandchildren will stories of his epic adventures back in the good ol’ days, riding with Jesse James, gambling in Dodge City, being run out of town by Wild Bill Hickok, getting drunk in Tombstone, and dodging Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall gang .