London’s Porchester Hall, Bayswater, was transformed into an Afghan
bazaar for an evening as part of a celebration of Afghanistan’s
Hundreds gathered on 15 March for Precious Afghanistan, an Afghanaid
fundraising event, to purchase traditional and modern jewellery,
textiles and crafts, and antique books, amid an atmosphere of dance,
music, a catwalk fashion show, auction, and Afghan-inspired canapés.
The evening was the brainchild of Lady Bridget Cowper-Coles, and those
gathered were addressed by former Afghanaid worker Dr Hameed Haami,
Afghanistan’s Charge d’Affaires in London.
Historian of Central Asia, Bijan Omrani, described how conflict was
only a tiny part of Afghanistan’s prosperous history, stating that
Afghan lapis lazuli was to be found on Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus,
while a spinel ruby was also featured on the Imperial State Crown,
worn by HRH Queen Elizabeth II at the State Opening of Parliament.
Sophia Swire spoke of the work of Turquoise Mountain Foundation, in
improving gemstone mining conditions for Afghan workers, and training
women to support their families by working in the gemstone cutting
industry. It is hoped in future that this sector can contribute
millions of dollars to Afghanistan’s economy, when regulated better,
while a gemstone policy and strategy from the Afghan government is
Jewellery featured in Precious Afghanistan was provided by designers
Pippa Small and Sima Vaziry, while fashion designers Ellis Flyte and
Outsider loaned their creations for the show, which also included
traditional Afghan clothing and jewellery from Omas Masom, of the
Turkmen Gallery. Traditional music was from John Baily and Veronica
Doubleday, and dancing by Ziba Tabrizi.