Thursday, March 17, 2016

Carpets and Culture

Carpets are a big thing in the Middle East. We're kind of into them, having added to our collection from Morocco, Turkey, Qatar, Germany (at a bazaar), and now Saudi Arabia. But here's where the story gets interesting: The last one we got is a Turkmen carpet sold to us by an Afghani in Saudi Arabia who just so happens to also have a store in Washington, D.C.
At least our daughter took off her shoes before climbing over the merchandise.
Feda Mohammed is a third generation carpet expert and runs the Afghan House Oriental Carpets and Handicrafts in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It's in a shopping center near the Rawdah and King Fahd intersection.
Feda and his rubab
When we arrived, he served us tea and dates. We talked about all sorts of things, but you can tell that he really loves to talk about Afghanistan.


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Feda's son also runs a store in Georgetown, the Zamani House of Heritage. Since they are still connected to Afghanistan, the stores sell jewelry by Turquoise Mountain which was "Founded in March 2006 by HRH The Prince of Wales in partnership with former President of Afghanistan HE Hamid Karzai, Turquoise Mountain is a non-profit, non-governmental organization regenerating the old city of Kabul, and spurring the sustainable development of the Afghan crafts industry.

Since 2006 Turquoise Mountain has trained over 450 artisans in traditional arts, restored or rebuilt 112 historic or community buildings in the old city of Kabul, set up a local primary school and family health clinic, organized major international exhibitions from the Venice Bienalle to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, and worked with prestigious international retailers from Bloomingdales and Kate Spade in New York, to Pippa Small and Monsoon-Accessorize in London."

And Feda played a rubab for us. Such an otherworldly sound. Check it out.

All I can think of how to describe the sound is "Like something out of some Asian monastery."

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The store has an upstairs too. Those aren't paintings lining the stairway, though. They are carpets that have been framed.
Building relationships with the locals (who themselves might be from other lands) is just one of the enriching things about being in the Foreign Service.

Update: Feda actually called us on R&R when he was back in DC. Talk about customer service!

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