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" We saw some roomsize Turkoman and Baluch pieces of a quality; condition, and age that we have not seen for years. "
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Although buying and selling carpets was part of my father’s trade, it was not until 1973 when, with an enormous desire while working as an apprentice at a carpet shop in Kabul-Afghanistan, I became involved in the carpet business. Right from day one, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for.
I fell in love with the art of tribal carpets. I call it art because the genuine design of a hand-made tribal carpet comes straight from the heart of people who are in love with their work.
With a great desire, I learned about the art of designing, dyeing and weaving of all sorts of carpets. With it I found a fascinating history of different tribes, history and cultures of Central Asia.
Every piece of carpet I came across, I was deeply touched by the way it was made, the way it expressed the personality of its maker and her thoughts, culture and religions. The older the piece the more meaningful it would be.
After two exciting years of learning, with the help of my brothers in 1975, I was able to open my first carpet shop near the Chicken Street-Kabul-Afghanistan. It was in this year that I first met Sofi Abdul Wahid who is one of the masters in knowledge about Oriental carpets.
Sofi is a typical Herati man, he has traveled to many villages and is known to many tribes around Herat. His strong friendship with us was another reason for our success.
In a short while with the help of Sofi Wahid, we compiled a valuable collection of genuine rugs from different parts of Afghanistan. Our business was moving ahead very quickly. Every year we would receive shipments of carpets, each containing hundreds of beautiful pieces.
Our customers were a mixed group of European, North American and Australians. The people who bought our carpets were also like us: they were in love with the art and the culture of Central Asian Nomads. Each time we received a shipment, we kept a few for our own private collection, which is still being part of our tradition.
In 1979 when the Russians invaded Afghanistan, the migration of tribes and villagers of Afghanistan was also inevitable. Due to the damages of war, villagers were all forced to seek refuge in neighboring Pakistan or Iran. While this was a very sad time for us, it was nonetheless one of the best times to collect carpets.
From 1979 to 1985 when I was in Kabul, it was through our sources like Sofi that we collected hundreds of exceptional pieces, including Carpets, Kilims, Sumacs, Ikats, and many other decorative pieces from villagers around Afghanistan and Iran. In late 1985 when living in Kabul became more dangerous, I thought with great sadness, that it was time for my family and I to move on and leave Kabul. We packed up all the carpets and our belongings and moved to Pakistan.
In Peshawar, Pakistan, we opened a store in Khyber Bazar and not so long after we opened another store in Islamabad. We knew that Pakistan was a safe place for us, at least for the time being.
We worked hard and had good experiences working with Westerns in Afghanistan, and soon after we settled in Islamabad, I started promoting our store and our merchandise. Those with knowledge of Tribal Carpets and Art crafts, found our business to be unique. They quickly became attached to Herat Carpets at Jinnah Supper Market and made it a place of their visit, learning and shopping every day.
Periodically, we gave free educational courses on Oriental Rugs in the back of our shop or in various gatherings, and that made us well known among the many embassy workers and foreign diplomats in Islamabad. We still kept strong connections inside Afghanistan and Iran.
We chose Toronto for our new Herat Carpets shop, because of its diversity and activity. Herat Carpets in Toronto was opened in 1987 and today, after many years it is an outstanding place for learning Asian – Persian culture and history through its work of art.
Throughout the years, our family devoted their lives to be ambassadors of Central Asian Culture and to present this vast and rich culture to many Canadians and other Westerns who are interested in that part of the world and its mysteries.
We see it as our obligation to provide to the public and collectors the best and most genuine product with excellent quality and reasonable prices. Our doors are open to the lovers and collectors of Tribal carpets. We welcome everyone with a warm cup of Green Tea.
Shir Paiwand & Bros.