Update: Restoring Medieval Kabul

Way back in the June of 2006 I posted about a the Turquoise Mountain Foundation‘s efforts to restore the medieval Kabul neighborhood of Murad Khane and revive the traditional local crafts of calligraphy, woodcarving and ceramics.

Now it seems that those efforts are paying off enormously, and that can only improve with the $3.5 million dollar donation they’ve just received from the Canadian government.

One-and-a-half years along, the scene just beyond the north bank of the Kabul River is impressive. A fleet of more than 50 wheelbarrows criss-crosses constantly, hacking through and carting away decades of chest-high waste from the last of four traditional courtyard houses targeted for renewal.

In their wake, aging craftsman lead teams of young men newly schooled in Afghan joinery in restoring the skeletal timber-frame buildings. A few of these homes remain diamonds in the rough, but one, known as The Peacock House for its distinctive feathered Nuristani marquetry panels, is already a shining jewel.

Not only are the restorations coming along at a brisk pace, but the craft school is a raging success as well, with ten times the expected number of applicants and big money commissions for their wares from British hotels and Arab collectors.