Our partnership with ISHKAR.
We couldn´t be happier to be introducing new pieces to our offering from ISHKAR, including glassware and Jewellery.
Who are ISHKAR?
A fellow London-based brand who redefine how we see countries torn apart by war. Having lived in Afghanistan for three years, founders Flore de Taisne and Edmund Le Brun began their journey with curating a collection of carefully crafted pieces from artisans in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraqi-Kurdistan. Since then, they have hosted numerous informative events and have even led pioneering trips to the very places from which they source their pieces.
Why have we chosen to stock ISHKAR pieces?
This idea of connection - both geographically and personally - is the driving force behind ISHKAR and is also one of the reasons why we decided to partner with them; they highlight the importance of supporting those with extraordinary craftsmanship and of developing and maintaining mutually productive relationships with those makers.What is the story behind the glassware?
We found the story fascinating and hope you do too!
Made in an ancient glass workshop in Herat, these pieces are made individually by hand, meaning that each item is like no other.
For two thousand years Herat’s distinctive coloured glass was traded along the length of the Silk Road. Ghulam Sekhi is one of the last in this ancient line of glassblowers. In a mudbrick workshop at the base of Herat’s ancient citadel, his work is keeping this precious industry alive.
Ghulam makes glass in much the same way as it has always been made. He grinds quartz, plant ash (otherwise known as 'Ishkar'), and natural oxides together to create the vibrant colours which once made Herat’s glass so famous. He blows each individual glass by hand, and fires them in a traditional mud brick kiln.
Amazingly, the very instructions for making coloured glass can be found on a cuneiform tablet dating back to the 7th century B.C., which describes each and every step of the process - covering the blowing of the glass, the loading of the kiln and the mixing of ground quartz, plant ash and copper oxide. In another part of the process, a camel is strapped to a log of wood which rotates in a stone bowl, grinding sesame into a pulp.
What is the problem? How can you help?
This craft is under threat: cheap, mass-produced versions imported from China have squashed all local demand for the glass. This, combined with the war and the fact that the only international flight out of Herat is to Mashad in Iran, has meant that the local glassblowing economy has been decimated to a state of pure isolation. Indeed, ISHKAR visited Herat and spoke with Hajji Sultan who explained how ‘before forty years, fifty years… many many tourist come to Afghanistan’, there were 12 factories back then. ‘Now 1 factory! No business, no foreigners, no tourists’.
With the local market for handblown glass drying up due to the arrival of cheap Chinese glass in Afghanistan, Ghulam Sekhi is struggling to find new apprentices. Each sale of Herati glass will help build the stability Ghulam needs for his business to grow.
In bringing these beautiful pieces to the UK and offering them to you, we hope that we can alleviate or even counteract the uncertainty and decline they are currently experiencing.
Browse the glassware here!