Yearly Archives: 2013

Myth and Design, as presented by Thomas Cole at Arastan

Scorpion Boteh

As it was once said, “We are who we were…” And it is this truism that Tom Cole, internationally acclaimed Central Asian carpet and textile expert, brought to life vividly and evocatively in the talk he gave for Arastan last Wednesday.

Tom talked with great depth and knowledge not just about the crafts but the historical, cultural and symbolic linkages that accompany them. As one who specialises in tribal weavings and textiles of artistic, historical and ethnographic significance from Central Asia, Tom is the position to do so very authoritatively. As he put it to an interested and involved audience, his presentation on ‘Myth and Design’ endeavoured to identify pervasive myths and symbolism at the core of our very existence as human beings – as illustrated in patterns and symbols spanning the breadth of the Asian continent.

Supported by interesting and relevant visuals, Tom talked about certain images and icons that …

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Arastan at Good Earth in Mumbai: 4-13 March 2013

Kazak Polychromatic Latch Hook Carpet

We’re delighted to be returning to Mumbai to feature the best of artistic traditions from the Silk Route, this time at Good Earth’s flagship store at Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel, for 10 days from from Monday 4 to Wednesday 13 March.

The caravan of treasures includes carpets from across the Caucasian region and from Kurdistan, embroidered glassware from Azerbaijan and a new collection of our popular blue ceramic and silk ikat from Uzbekistan, as well as our one-of-a-kind tribal cushions and ottomans.

Rugs include some much sought after collector’s pieces such as those from Shirvan and Quba in the Caucasus, plus Gabbehs and other tribal Persian carpets, and remarkable new Daizangi kilims from Afghanistan. More Uzbek ceramic includes smaller platters and plates, and we have an entirely new collection of  silk cushions made with authentic fabrics including Uzbek ikat and Moroccan sabra silk.

This coincides with a series of events planned as …

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Myth and Design – an illustrated talk by Central Asian carpet and textile expert Thomas Cole

Myth and Design

We are pleased to invite you to an illustrated talk in Bangalore by internationally acclaimed Central Asian carpet and textile expert Thomas Cole. Tom lived in Asia for sixteen years between 1970 and 1990. Through his long involvement with the tribal culture in Afghanistan prior to the wars there, and subsequent visits to Kabul, Istanbul and Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), he has learned much about the people and the long history of their weaving traditions. The talk is part of our mission to share not just the crafts but the historical and cultural linkages that go with them.

Myth and Design will identify pervasive myths at the core of our very existence as human beings as illustrated in patterns and symbols spanning the breadth of the Asian continent. It is important to connect with the past in order to enjoy the present with a grounded perspective. As it was once said, ‘We …

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Unique Appliqué Craft – Threadwork on Glass from Azerbaijan

The finished product

Last November I travelled to the Caucasus in search of carpets, but also other handcrafted items that might enrich Arastan’s offering. What I found was a lot of skill, not just in carpet weaving, but also in metalwork, stone masonry and wood carving. But skill is not enough to turn creativity and manual dexterity into a viable business. The artisan also needs some market savvy, so as to understand what customers are willing to buy; and especially some innovation in order to achieve a modicum of differentiation and attract the buyer’s attention. In Azerbaijan I came across the work of one artisan who seems to have achieved this, entirely of her own accord.

Simuzer, 36, lives in Qobu, a small town not to be confused with Quba, or with Qobustan, which is known for its petroglyphs and mud volcanoes. She comes from a family of carpet weavers, so she learned the …

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A tribute to Abdurauf Avezov, the gentleman Bukharan master craftsman

Abdurauf Avezov 1955-2012

Abdurauf Avezov was born in the old town of Bukhara in 1955 and completed his secondary schooling in a local Russian school. He started working in copper-chasing when he was twenty under the tutelage of Hasan, a master in the craft. Over the years he developed his own unique style using mainly vegetal patterns. He travelled widely showcasing his work especially to the countries of the former Soviet Union but more recently stayed home and completed orders that went to Germany, France, Italy, England and to us in India. Over the years he trained four students who eventually migrated from Uzbekistan and gave up the craft.

Yesterday I heard that Abdurauf passed away. I liked him. He was my best supplier and symbolised all that is Arastan. He knew I trusted his sense of design and never disappointed, sending me stunning work every time always on time. He took it …

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Arastan is hiring!

Are you passionate about crafts, design, textile, history and travel? Arastan is hiring! We are looking for a talented Content Writer cum Product Research Associate to join our small but growing business full-time. The role encompasses all content as well as product research and supplier management to support sourcing exciting new products. Effectively the work entails handling all aspects of content related to Arastan, that is both online and offline businesses. In particular this would include articles about the crafts we sell and the people/cultures/places behind them, product and category descriptions for the online store, press releases, exhibition material, marketing collateral etc.

If you have a desire to work in this field, and have a background in content writing, communication or design, ideally with some experience of either marketing, social media, SEO, blogging, graphic design or photography, then you could be an ideal fit for the job. The role is Bangalore-based …

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Reflections on 2012 – The Negatives!

Thank You Couriers and Octroi Inspectors

So there were a lot of good things to look back on from 2012, but it wasn’t all rosy…

Suppliers

Whilst artisans have been great to work with I have also had my share of disappointments, such as the Moroccan supplier who took my upfront payment and failed to deliver a third of the goods. In India we have found a few gems (like the brass inlay work) but have had to work through many potential suppliers who may produce great stuff but have been unreliable to work with for various reasons, including doubling the cost to me when I tried to repeat order, or complaining that I am being unreasonable when I reject their badly damaged goods through insufficient packaging. We ensure that we select only high-quality products for Arastan, and therefore demand attention to detail and quality work from our suppliers, and many do not fit the grade!

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Reflections on 2012

Tibetan Katagami Carpet

As I sit on a beach in Sri Lanka enjoying a well overdue holiday – though Mike claims otherwise, my travels for Arastan are hard work and not holiday! – I thought it worth reflecting on the year gone by for Arastan. (I am a bit distracted by the beautiful woven reed mats available here, but must stop – this is supposed to be a family holiday and not another sourcing trip!)

2012 was a good year for Arastan. There have been some great moments and I’ve picked a few to reflect on.

Products

I am sure there is no end to the wealth of high-quality unique products that can be sourced for Arastan. A few of my particular favourites that I came across this year were the beautifully woven Tibetan rugs from Sikkim and the Iroqi embroidery from Shakrisabz. It was also an enjoyable foray into fabricating some of our own, combining …

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  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

    You can read about the reasons for closure.

    You can still browse some of the products we used to have via the category links above, although none of these are available for purchase.

    Relive our travels and stories by browsing our articles and archives from the menus below.

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