They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted humankind,
irrepressibly optimistic and proud.
– The Carpet Wars, Christopher Kremmer
Yet even at their most turbulent, the Afghans have tended to impress
travellers with their dignity and hospitality
as much as their fierce independence.
– William Dalrymple, author of
Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan 1839–42
This is Abdul Hadi. He is a teacher in the woodworking school of the
Institute of Turquoise Mountain, in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he teaches jali woodwork (latticework). He was a woodworker at the court of the last king of Afghanistan, and then for some 35 years did not have a chance to practice his skills, due to the successive conflicts.
In Afghanistan, you don’t understand yourself solely as an individual.
You understand yourself as a son, a brother, a
cousin to somebody, an uncle to somebody.
You are part of something bigger than yourself.
– Khaled Hosseini
It was a privilege to visit with Nancy Dupree last year in Kabul. I am always inspired by this indomitable woman, who has never stopped working to preserve the history of her beloved Afghanistan. Arriving in the country in the early 1960’s she worked tirelessly to document the history and cultural heritage of the country, first with her husband, Louis Dupree, and then after his death until a few days ago.
Known as the Grandmother of Afghanistan, she established ACKU, Afghanistan Center at Kabul University, which houses tens of thousands of documents, pictures, and recordings which do not exist anywhere else.
I met Nancy and Louis in the early 1980’s, and they were gracious hosts to me – a relatively unknown photographer. Her contribution to Afghanistan cannot be overstated. She was an icon, and will always be remembered by all of us who know her.
For Afghans, Allah is the mountain above the mountains, and it is He who entertains the idea- or not- of our next hour on this earth. This, I think, is why the Afghans are reluctant to bet on tomorrow. Tomorrow is not ours to presume upon. Tomorrow is the pleasure of Allah alone.
Insha’Allah. It is this pervasive, finally overpowering feeling that I find the most difficult to convey about Afghanistan. And yet for me, it is this stubborn and unassailable conviction- this ability to endure almost anything- that defines the Afghan soul and my fascination with it. And it is this powerful feeling that draws me there again and again.
My new book, Afghanistan, published by Taschen is now available. tsc.hn/05326in