Engraving art which is masonry work has long history in Afghanistan where most of historic monuments discovered were carved 1500 years back; for example, Herat’s Haft Qalam was a very good example of engraving work and was carved nearly 700 years ago.
Related to engraving work in the country, Mohammad Mustafa, one of engravers of Shahr-e-Naw of Kabul told The Kabul Times correspondent, “I was taught classical engraving art by Chinese teachers for five years and am working in this sector for the past 30 years and trained and taught many students who are now teachers.”
“Engraving art is in fact masonry work as carving boards used mostly in artifacts and historic monuments of the country. This art has further improved in Herat province where dishes first carved and slowly changed to engraving work and now has various styles”, Ustad Mustafa added.
Currently domestic and wild animals, colorful pet birds, butterfly and others are classically carved and produced in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Italian modern engraving work is also improving in Afghanistan and now we are working on it, Mustafa says.
Ustad Mustafa further said that more than thousands of common stones and precious stones such as lapis lazuli, emerald and others were used in engraving work, adding that most of works and designs as dishes, dining sets, bowl, cup, table, statue, historic minarets and others were ordered by clients.
Related to his works, Mohammad Mustafa said, “My works have reached to thousands since 1966 and one of my top work which was Creed carved from azure stone was gifted to Saudi King Shah Faisal and my other work was Pamir Marcopolo in which 36 colors of azure have been used and gifted to French ambassador to Kabul.”
He further said that any statues and works which were carved were usually sold from $50 – 500.
“Engraving work is nominated based on our historic monuments and places as most of our works and products are purchased by foreigners, but currently national traders are also interested in exporting Afghanistan engraving and masonry works to foreign countries, so they buy our works and products too”, Mustafa added.
Related to his problems, Ustad Mustafa said that they were facing with lack of engraving tools, so they needed to import such tools from Germany and other countries. He asked ministries of information and culture, commerce and industries and mines and petroleum to form a commission and pay attention in this regard.
One of Afghan citizens Abdul Shukoor, purchasing engraved and carved dishes from India said, “Afghanistan engraving work is unique. I have ordered a pitcher and some cups from azure and they are now ready. Most of Afghan citizens living in India order our country’s engraving work as it is the oldest art in the country, but recently the price of engraving works in Afghanistan has increased unprecedentedly and we do not know why?”.
He added that most of common and precious stones used in engraving art could be found in Afghanistan, asking the government to pay further attention in this regard, or a factory should be established to improve engraving work in the country so that all foreign and domestic tourists would purchase Afghan products.