Monthly Archives: September 2013

Chyrpy: An Embroidered History of Turkmenistan

Tekke woman wearing a traditional chyrpy

That is exactly what a chyrpy from Turkmenistan is: a beautiful garment (a woman’s mantle) that embodies the fascinating culture of the tribal peoples of this ancient and mystic land.

Turkmenistan: at the crossroads of civilisation

Predominantly desert, Turkmenistan is one of the five former Soviet republics in Central Asia and is bordered by Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Caspian Sea. In the south, Merv was once one of the great cities of Islam, rivalling Damascus, Cairo and Baghdad, and today its spectacular ruins are one of three World Heritage sites in present-day Turkmenistan – the others being the ancient capital Konye-Urgench and Nisa, one of the first capitals of the Parthians.

The Turkmen people originated from the Mongolian Oghuz tribe and have a turbulent history. Feared throughout much of the region for their pillaging horseback raids on trade caravans of the historical Silk Road, they were known for taking slaves to be sold at markets in Khiva, Samarkand or …

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Hand-crafted Ceramic Art and Pottery by Pratima Vaidya

"Precious" Ceramic Art Wall Tile

“We create hand-crafted ceramic art for contemporary interiors,” says Pratima Vaidya of her pottery studio, Ishalgad Ceramics & Pottery, nestled in the lush green hills of the Western Ghats, 65-odd kilometres from Mumbai. “We do studio pottery, a concept where the products are hand-made and produced in small quantities.”

The concept has worked well for Pratima—in essence, it is responsible for the steady success of Pratima Vaidya’s exclusive collection of ceramics. As a sculptor, painter, and ceramist, she has acquired a well-deserved reputation for producing finely hand-crafted and exclusive ceramic art and pottery for the urban, contemporary interiors of today’s homes and offices. Now, in keeping with our dedication to presenting carefully curated selections, Arastan is proud to showcase a limited-edition line of products by Pratima.

A creative journey that began 30 years ago

In 1973, Pratima earned a Fine Arts diploma from the Sir J. J. School of Arts, Mumbai, …

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Pomegranate: Icon of the Silk Road

A pomegranate trinket on my desk

It was my ten-year-old daughter who first alerted me to the iconographic importance of the pomegranate. At Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar she pointed out the myriad trinkets—ashtrays, paper weights, ampules, candles, vases, key chains, pendants—in the shape of pomegranates. (She really wanted a ceramic pomegranate for her window sill, and I obliged her.) I wondered why the pomegranate was so favoured by souvenir makers, whereas there was no trace of any object in the shape of, say, a pear or a raspberry.

I also recalled that last year, when I travelled to Armenia on behalf of Arastan, I had found that in this tiny country locked away in the Caucasus, the pomegranate is a much-loved, ubiquitous symbol that augurs fertility, abundance, and prosperity. It was everywhere, from friezes carved in medieval khachkars, to tabletop ornaments, to cheap fridge magnets sold at the airport.

Without trying very hard I began to notice the …

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