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Anar Studio Shares The Stories, Humour And Resilience Of Afghan Culture Through Handmade Products
Anar Studio Shares The Stories, Humour And Resilience Of Afghan Culture Through Handmade Products
Jul 22, 2024 1:28 AM

  When Hawa Kakar, her two sisters and their mother left Afghanistan in 2019 in hopes of a better future, they thought long and hard about how they could use their deep nostalgia for their homeland in a way that resonated with people in their new country. Born and brought up in Kabul, the sisters had moved to pursue college and higher studies. How, they wondered, should they go about showcasing and preserving Afghanistan’s culture and language? What would carrying a piece of Afghanistan with you no matter where you lived look like?

  They got their answer when they sold their first Anar Studio product in December 2022. The family-run online enterprise which is based in Delhi sells hand-painted, embroidered and beaded tote bags and notebooks lovingly stitched, documented and packed from their home.

  

Anar Studio Shares The Stories, Humour And Resilience Of Afghan Culture Through Handmade Products1

  Anar Studio’s Instagram account shows off their aesthetic creations in beautifully framed photographs interspersed with quotes and old buildings which evoke feelings of wonder, warmth, nostalgia and beauty. The “chief backbone officer” who stitches the tote bags and guides the sisters with their embroidery and beadwork is their ever-supportive mother. Of the sisters, Maryam does the design and painting, Heela does the miniature art, and Hawa takes care of the management, photography and social media.

  Their products are beloved by their clients, especially the subtle simplicity of their tote bags. It inspires Hawa Kakar and her family to continue making things which evoke such a response.

  

Anar Studio Shares The Stories, Humour And Resilience Of Afghan Culture Through Handmade Products2

  “When customers engage with our products, we want them to feel a deep connection to the rich stories and emotions tied to Afghanistan. For other Afghans, our goal is to bring back a sense of nostalgia, of them remembering the beautiful stories and cherished memories from their homeland,” Kakar says.

  “For those not from Afghanistan, we aim to share the small, heartwarming aspects of Afghan culture and heritage, beyond what is typically seen in the news. We want them to discover the beauty and traditions, humour and resilience of the land of the Afghan people through our products.”

  

Anar Studio Shares The Stories, Humour And Resilience Of Afghan Culture Through Handmade Products3

  As an Afghan emigrant living in India, Kakar says her new residence has since become a second home. “Adjusting to a new environment, language barriers and feelings of homesickness can be tough. But, as human beings, we adapt over time,” she says.

  “Despite the challenges, the great thing about living in India is the warm hospitality of the people. They are usually welcoming and curious about our culture, which makes it easier to share our heritage and traditions.”

  

Anar Studio Shares The Stories, Humour And Resilience Of Afghan Culture Through Handmade Products4

  At present, Anar Studio’s clientele is made up of the people known to the Kakar family and those who have gotten to know of the enterprise’s work through friends. Kakar hopes to expand their product offerings so that more people can savour the small but cherished aspects of her homeland.

  “We want to keep designing and making great products. Right now its tote bags and notebooks [so] we want to make the best of these we can and then keep on adding to the type of products we do,” she says.

  

Anar Studio Shares The Stories, Humour And Resilience Of Afghan Culture Through Handmade Products5

  “We want to respond to the expectations of our clientele to offer more variety but at the same time, we don’t want to compromise on quality. So, we will add newer items as we go along whenever we feel a product is ready to be shared publicly. We are constantly working on new ideas.”

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