HERAT CITY (Pajhwok): The glass industry in western Herat province, one of the oldest industries, is facing extinction due to stagnant market, glass producers said on Sunday.
In addition to the glass art, some other ancient professions like coppersmith, shawl weaving, pottery, wool-weaving and some others are also disappearing.
Glass objects’ producers in Herat are concerned about their fate and they blame the previous government for negligence to support them.
Ghulam Sakhi, who has been in the profession since 40 years, talked to Pajhwok Afghan News about the challenges his profession faced. He said currently there were only two glass melting furnaces that too operated limitedly.
Ghulam Sakhi, while sitting close to the glass furnace, talked about the cold market of his products.
He said he lit his furnace once in every 35 or 40 days to melt glass because his sales were very limited.
He inherited the profession from his ancestors. “Currently only one glass artisan is working in Herat province,” he said.
Some of the older glass producers had died and others switched to other professions due to lack of sales, he said.
Ghulam Sakhi could produce different items with some miniatures on them such as glasses, bowls, water jugs, saucers, vases, ash trays, pen trays and sweet trays.
Abdul Qader, a resident of Herat city, said the people of Herat would buy and use locally produced glass items in the past, but recently they used foreign products.
He said: “Foreign products are available everywhere and they are cheap, that is why their use is common among residents”.
Mir Seddiq Mir, a historical items expert, said the glass industry in Herat dated back to the pre-Islamic era and it flourished at the eras of Timurid empire and Ghaznavids dynasty and then spread to other areas as well.
The expert believed the imports of low quality glassware had badly affected the Herat glass industry, asking the government to support the industry.
But Zulmai Safa, head of historical monuments guarding unit, said the government of Islamic Emirate had given the responsibility for the Herat glass production industry to the Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) which provided fuel for its furnaces.
Safa added currently two glass melting furnaces operated in Herat, one of them was run privately and the second functioned under the Directorate of Information and Culture.
“The Information and Culture Directorate supports this traditional and historical industry and solves its problems”, Safa said.
The glass producers say they are getting some sort of support from the incumbent government and hope their products will be sold because they toil enough.
It is worth mentioning that majority of Herat glassware customers are foreign tourists. The artisans ask the government to showcase their products in exhibitions in Kabul and other provinces.