Exotic wares

• Najeeb Karimzai. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

AFGHANISTAN has been invaded and fought over for millennia and as Alexander the Great said “it’s easy to march into, but hard to march out of”.

Unfortunately this means that many positive aspects of the country’s culture are overlooked, like its rug making, which continues to flourish long after the US invasion in 2001.

Most Afghani rugs are made in the north and west of the country, and it’s where the owner of South Fremantle’s Banjarra Tribal, Najeeb Karimzai, gets most of his stock.

Mr Karimzai is from the northern Afghan city Kunduz, and moved to Australia about 19 years ago.

He started out as a wholesale importer of Afghani rugs, jewellery and gem stones, before taking over Banjarra Tribal on South Terrace nine years ago and selling direct to the public.

In the past three years it’s become more difficult getting in and out of Afghanistan with his rugs, tribal jewellery and gorgeously embroidered clothing, which now have to be shipped to Australia via Pakistan.

“Trouble is always there,” he says. “I’ve never been without trouble since I was nine or 10 years old.”

But with a brother, cousins and business associates in Afghanistan, Mr Karimzai knows his way around.

“Most of the time you know where trouble is and you don’t go there,” he says.

“There’s still business there; people have to work and people have to do business.”

The woolen rugs are predominately hand woven, using natural dyes.

The rich red tones come from madder root, dark brown is walnut peel, and light brown pomegranate peel.

Along with carpets, including some from Pakistan and Tibet, Mr Karimzai sells beautiful tribal jewellery made with gem stones from Afghanistan. There’s also a small selection of embroidered hand-crafted dresses made by women in the north of the country.

“Ninety nine percent of things in this shop are handmade,” Mr Karimzai says.

By Jenny D’Anger

Banjarra Tribal
384 South Terrace, South Fremantle

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