Sustainability

February 21, 2011

On the first day I assembled our first batch of apprenticed weavers and dyers in the courtyard of our Madrassah workshop, I told them that I would not be around for ever and that my aim was for our workshop to be sustainable. In recent times I began to wonder whether this was really possible. Although the carpet and suzani workshops continue five years after I was kicked out, their supplies of dyes previously purchased from Afghanistan were dwindling. I’d discussed the issue with Madrim each time I phoned him; the Uzbek government wouldn’t grant him an exit visa to go to Afghanistan, and we’d been unable to find an Afghan trader to bring dyes to Uzbekistan. Madrim was wondering about Iran and buying madder root, indigo, zok and oak gall from there, however, he doesn’t speak Tajik or Farsi and getting the dyes across the Turkmenistan border seemed impossible. I tried to imagine our silk carpets reduced to a spectrum of white, brown and yellow, and my heart sank.

The good news is that Madrim has finally managed to find an Afghan trader who has supplied the workshop with the dyes they need to produce blues, reds and black. The workshop is back in business and I’m cautiously confident that it has what it needs to be sustainable for a while longer yet.

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6 Responses to “Sustainability”

  1. Bruce Gilbert said

    Well done Madrim Fingers crossed for the future!

    Bruce G.

  2. Ala Osmond said

    Hi Christopher

    I am halfway through the book (fab) and I can see from the blog that you are still unable to travel to Khiva. I am going to Uzbekistan on 03 May and would be happy to take something to your Uzbek family (as long as it doesn’t weigh a ton!). Our company is http://www.exeterinternational.co.uk, so either email me or give me a call. I grew up in war torn Iraq and also lived in Russia, and understand how hard it must be for you not to be able to visit…

    All best

    Ala

    • Hi Ala,
      thanks for the generous offer to courier stuff for my Uzbek family. I hope you can stay at Meros Bed and Breakfast while you’re in Khiva, as well as visit the two workshops. I’m now living in Kyrgyzstan, so I’m not sure how the logistic s would work out. Probably best for you to simply give them my warmest ‘Salaams’.
      Chris Aslan

  3. Bridget Oeppen said

    I have read and thoroughly enjoyed “Carpet Ride to Khiva” and hope to be able to visit the workshop as I am visiting Khiva in August. I wondered what sort of price carpets and suzanis start at and whether it is now possible to pay by card. If not, what sort of extra cash do I need to take with me in case I’m tempted to buy ($10s, $100s, $1000s)?

    • Dear Bridget,
      I hope you enjoy your time in Khiva and your visit to the workshops. My understanding is that there is now an ATM in one of the hotels in Khiva, so you theoretically would be able to get money out while in Khiva.However, there are probably limits on how much you can withdraw, (and ATMs in Central Asia are not always reliable) so I’d recommend bringing a money belt with US dollars to avoid disappointment. Hope you find carpets or suzanis you fall in love with!
      yours, Chris

  4. Bridget Oeppen said

    I have read and thoroughly enjoyed “Carpet Ride to Khiva” and hope to be able to visit the workshop as I am visiting Khiva in August. I wondered what sort of price carpets and suzanis start at and whether it is now possible to pay by card. If not, what sort of extra cash do I need to take with me in case I’m tempted to buy ($10s, $100s, $1000s)?

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