Thursday, December 13, 2012

Afghanistan and Lapis Lazuli

Afghanistan - the very mention of the name conjures up images of war, poverty and terrorism in my mind and of anyone who has given a thought to it. Most of us know very little about the country, its past and its present.

 My first introduction to an Afghanistan, now shadowed in the veil of war and terrorism was through Khaled Hosseni's bitter sweet novel 'The Kite Runner' when I first read it a few years back. The novel has an autobiographical feel to it and one can instantly form a connection to a a culturally rich past of the now tattered country. Hosseni's writing is an infusion of historical facts in a fictitious setting. It is probably one of the few books that made me smile, laugh, cry and hope all through its 324 pages.

Khaled Hosseni's third book, and the first in six years, 'And the Mountains Roared' is set for release in May 2013.

It was only after reading The Kite Runner that I was intrigued to look into the history and culture of Afghanistan. The Afghan people have long been associated with making beautiful, intricately handwoven oriental rugs, what I didn't know was that Afghanistan is the most prominent source of the gorgeous ultramarine blue stone - Lapis Lazuli mined in the Afghan province of Badakshan. Lapis Lazuli has been around and  in use for almost 6000 years.The dark blue stone has inclusions of pyrites that shimmer like stars. The stone was commonly used for making tribal jewelry in Afghanistan. 

The Turquoise Mountain Foundation is an NGO operating in Afghanistan. Based in Kabul, it has the three-fold objective of regenerating historic urban areas, renewing traditional Afghan arts and architecture, and spurring the sustainable development of the nation’s craft industry. It is named after Turquoise Mountain, the greatest indigenous Afghan capital of the Middle Ages. 

In my search for lapis lazuli jewelry, I found this simple, elegant handmade two string neck piece with my favorite jewelry store 'Moodswings by Benaazir'

Photo credit: Moodswings by Benaazir
Reference: Wikipedia

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