Turquoise Mountain Masters


Nasir Mansoori, Master craftsman, head of classic carving

Date of birth: 1977/1356 in Persian calendar

Place of birth: Panjshir Valley

“I became a refugee in 1984 when the Soviets invaded the Panjshir Valley – my home. Living in exile in Iran, there were very few prospects for me. In 1992, I began to learn classic wood carving from a very experienced Iraqi master. In 2004 I returned to Afghanistan and immediately started to ply my trade. Since 2007, I have been working with Turquoise Mountain, as the head of the Design & Production Studio’s woodworking unit. I have also taught in the Institute’s School of Woodwork. Our studio has made a wide variety of beautiful  wood carvings, drawing on the rich heritage of Afghan design traditions, particularly Nuristani and Kabuli classic carvings. For example, we have designed and produced the ornate Panj Tan door for Murad Khane, a walnut suite for the Connaught Hotel in London, an exquisite minbar for a mosque in the Gulf, and the library of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tokyo. I take satisfaction from playing a small part in showing the highest quality Afghan art to the world.”

Del Aram Shah Saeed Jan, head of Nuristani dept.

Date of birth: 1985 /1364 in Persian calendar

Place of birth: Nuristan

“I was born in 1985 in Kamdish district of Nuristan province.That same year my family migrated to Chatral Zala village in Pakistan. I went to school up to the 5th  grade but I was mostly interested in art work so I begun to learn how to carve.

In 2000 my family and I returned to village in Nuristan. That same year, I was exposed to Nuristani carving and under my father’s supervision, who is a master Ustad, I was trained in the the art of Nuristani carving and design. In 2002 my family moved to Kabul where I worked in different production workshops in order to make money. In 2007 I was hired by Turquoise Mountain and I am now the head of the Nuristani carving workshop. I am happy that I have learned this great craft and I am proud to contribute to the revival of this tradition.”

Abdul Khaliq Abdul Qayum, head of Joinery dept.

Date of birth: 1978 /1357 in Persian calendar

Place of birth: Kabul

“Because of Afghanistan’s difficulties during the 1990s, I was forced to live in Pakistan for from 1993 until 2001, for most of my teenage years and my early twenties. Fortunately, I trained and worked as a carpenter there, and in 2001 returned to Kabul to work in a private carpentry workshop. I then moved to a different workshop in Bagrami as a carpenter and supervisor, before joining Turquoise Mountain in 2008.

I am now the manager of Turquoise Mountain’s carpentry section, and enjoy it very much. I hope to be a very successful carpenter in the future, and I hope that Turquoise Mountain will make this happen, so that I become someone to help my countrymen.”

Mansoor Mohmood, Master Carpenter

Date of birth: 1983 /1362 in Persian calendar

Place of birth: Kabul

“I was born in 1983 in the Koti Sangi district of Kabul. From a young age I was interested in using my hands to make things, so carpentry was a natural choice for me. I trained as a carpenter at Kabul’s Vocational Institute of Arts, where I developed a love for traditional Nuristani carving.

I now work for Turquoise Mountain as a carpenter, where I can teach to the younger generation, continue to develop my carvings skills, and make woodwork that Afghans and people overseas can enjoy. This is important to me, because I think that Afghanistan’s traditional woodwork designs are beautiful and valuable.”

Masoud Abdul Baqi, head of Panjare dept.

Date of birth: 1984 /1363 in Persian calendar

Place of birth: Kabul

“I was born in Kabul in 1984, but had to spend 10 years in Pakistan until 2001. After I finished my high school education in 2004, I studied about Afghanistan’s traditional culture and architecture for one year, and then learned panjare screens under Ustad Abdul Hadi, one of Afghanistan’s best woodwork masters.

I am now responsible for panjare-making at Turquoise Mountain. I love designing and building panjare screens, which are a beautiful part of Afghanistan’s carving tradition. My hope is that Turquoise Mountain develops these carving skills to a high international level, and also that we can bring Aghanistan’s traditional arts and rich culture to the world.”


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