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The Delicate Art of Making Glass


Decades of conflict have shattered Afghanistan's economy, and even with Western help, the country faces a long road to recovery. But a source of hope can be found in the busy markets of the capital, Kabul, where Afghani craftspeople sell their art. Carpet weaving, embroidery and glass blowing are among the crafts for which Afghani artisans are known.

Saifullah Khan has a small business hand-making glassware in Kabul. He sells much of his work to foreigners, who pay him in dollars, earning him a good living. He would like to expand and he wants the government to help.

He says he hopes the government will build factories for him and other craftspeople like him, so they can train more people in their crafts. He would like to move to a bigger work place, where he says he could be more productive and teach a new generation to be glassmakers. But setting up such an operation requires an investment of about 2,000 Afghanis, around $45. That is a huge sum of money by local standards, something not many people in Afghanistan can afford.

Glass blowing is an art that requires extensive training. It has been passed down through generations of Afghanis for at least 100 years. Mr. Kahn adds, "You can easily make glasses for tea, but to make this kind of glass, for decoration, is very difficult."

Mr. Kahn fears if new craftspeople are not trained to do such delicate work, the art of glass blowing could be lost.