October 20, 2010

Sturee Tribal Village = Afghan Tribal Arts

Tribal Jewelry from Sturee Tribal Village

Is the call towards a nomadic life genetic or does it arise out of need?  In Abdul Wardak's case, I would suggest that he just can's sit down long enough to let the flowers sprout at his feet.  He has to keep moving, throwing petals into the breeze...

Abdul came to the United States about twenty years ago.  It's a long, fascinating story that you will have to ask him about if you ever meet him.  Basically, he arrived penniless in New York, made his way to Chicago and learned how to navigate our legal systems so well that he worked as an insurance agent for 15 years.  Yes, at that time, it does seem like he was planted in one place.  But, in reality, he was already traveling back and forth between Pakistan and the United States for family reasons and then fell in love with the traditional crafts found in his native home of Afghanistan.  Slowly, he started bringing textiles, beads, carvings, metal work, clay and anything he could get back to the United States.  Afghan Tribal Arts was born.  He left the security net of having a job and joined forces with all the other recent immigrants who travel the country in their big white vans, loaded with goods for shows, festivals, galleries, and other outlets.

 Wooden artifacts from Afghanistan.

Abdul's route is from Wisconsin to Florida.  My house is one of the stops in Paducah, Kentucky.  Another is Pendleton, South Carolina.  There, Sturee Tribal Village showcases the retail arm of Afghan Tribal Arts.  Afghanistan is at the heart of the objects shown, but there is also a great collection of African masks, Buddhist statues, and textiles from Japan, Thailand and other countries.

The life of a nomad is not an easy one.  It involves sleeping in cheap motels, constant unloading and then reloading of heavy boxes of beads and other goods, driving for hundreds of miles, losing money on shows that are not well attended and so on.  For Abdul, this life has worn out his hips and fractured his spine.  Now, other family members and friends are stepping in to help him move forward.  My job is to help Afghan Tribal Arts and Sturee Tribal Village get some exposure online.  So, now there is an Etsy shop, facebook pages, a blog and a website.  Although most of my contribution involves sitting in front of a computer screen, sometimes I feel like I am also a nomad in my wanderings on the web.  I get to connect with people all over the world through all of these different venues.  What an incredible time we live in!  And, although selling online is also a tough business, at least it is not such a physically demanding one.  As Abdul sets himself up for surgery in the near future, we all have our fingers crossed that a double hip replacement will give him his life back.  Yes, he is still driving the route, but without the wheels of that white van under him, he can barely walk from one room to another.

 Abdul driving to a bead show.

When you buy something from one of the shops we have listed on this blog, you are buying from people like Abdul.  We are all driven to live out our dreams, to forge ahead with our nomadic spirits.  Every purchase, large or small, is helping to pay a bill, to buy supplies, to feed a family, to keep a small business going.  Those of you who get this, know how much you mean to the chain that makes it all happen.  We appreciate your support and cannot do it without you!  We weave an intricate web that binds us all together, from maker to seller to buyer.  Sometimes the same person is all three, and at other times each will never know the other except through the knowledge that another month has been granted to live this life.

Here is where you can find Afghan Tribal Arts and Sturee Tribal Village on the web:

Sturee Tribal Village in Pendleton, SC (USA)

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