Never, in any of the antique shops in London, Zurich, Paris or in the Asian capitals, have I found such quality as I did in Kandahar’s warehouses.

The objects and articles that Kandahar has been trading for more than 35 years now come from the Middle and Far East. They consist mainly of handcrafts and antiques from Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia and China, with special consideration for the mountain populations of these countries.

You can see and feel that the spirit that guided Andrea and his wife Marina in their choice was that of their own personal quest, piece by piece, during all of their numerous travels.

Their passion for antiques has always inspired them to buy objects of common and daily use. Not classical Oriental antiques, but more the Arte Povera, or “poor art”, of nomads, farmers, mountain dwellers, religious men. From the great portals in cedar of the wooden mosques in Northern Pakistan to the colourful doors of Tibetan monasteries, to the intricately engraved cedar chests from Himachal Pradesh to the furniture decorated with lively floral patterns from Mongolia. But also all the things used in the day-to-day lives of these populations: carpets, tapestries, fabrics, containers in wood and stone, benches, tables and beds. These are the profane objects that allow us to imagine the lives of those who live at the foot of the Himalayas, of the Karakorum Range, of Mount Ararat.

In the East, a craftsman is not the mere executor of things, but an artist who expresses his art and creativity following rules considered to be eternal. The signs and symbols that he uses in his creations come from a long-ago past. Symbols, signs, working techniques born from the commercial relations resulting from the succession of invasions, one after the other, that occurred in the East, from Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan, or from the cultural exchanges that took place during the many travels of the Venetian Marco Polo. Signs and symbols passed down from generation to generation and that we then often come across again in Western art and objects. Many of the famous artists in our world have been influenced by this poor art, because of its richness in expression. In these objects, even in the simplest of them, we can sense a reaching for beauty, for taste, for harmony. The perfection of the artefact is sublime.

My passion has often led me to remote places, in contact with ethnic groups threatened with extinction, from the Rajasthan desert to the Himalayan mountains, from the torrid tribal regions in India to the Caucasus steppes, but never was I able to find such riches as those that I saw in Kandahar, at the foot of the Dolomites.

Now that we, in our Western society, are losing everything that is “made by hand”, these objects have not only become rare and impossible to find, but also represent a “know-how” that must not be lost. We have to save it!

All countries in the East have their own characteristics and their own peculiarities, which are then reflected in their common, day-to-day furnishings and accessories: a portal, a chest, a many-coloured trunk, a container in wood, an embroidered fabric, a carpet. All these objects tell us of Kandahar’s adventures, over the years almost involuntarily transforming it into a real collection, the result of a never-ending search for all things that are antique, authentic and rare. A living museum, open to all those who love Oriental art.
Thank you Kandahar: you saved the best of a culture that is getting lost.

Reinhold Messner

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