Bernard Heaphy loves what he does - collecting souvenirs of his extraordinary journeys through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir and all the rest of south-western Asia that he knows first-hand.
When Bernie first arrived in the famous oasis city of Kashgar he was so overwhelmed by the history and the magic of the city that he decided there and then to give up his job as a builder and establish a new career collecting and selling exotic goods from all over the world.
Starting in Sydney markets and fairs in 1991, Bernie finally amassed enough stock to open his first very modest shop in 1994. Since then he has traveled to almost every part of the world to acquire an exotic collection of fine silver, tribal jewellery, rugs and ethnographic handicrafts, each piece hand picked from its country of origin and bought from source, from itinerant street sellers to traders in the great markets, bazaars and souks of the world.
In traveling to some of the most remote places on Earth Bernie has occasionally run into serious trouble. He has been shot at in central Asia, jailed for street hawking in Hong Kong and harassed by the secret police in Iran. Whenever he travels in the Hindu Kush/Afghani border region he is required by the Pakistan Government to take a bodyguard with him. The going rate for bodyguards is currently US$3 per day and US$5 for every bullet expended - luckily no bullets have yet had to be used.
Visit Kashgar in person and you may even find Bernie himself, if he is not somewhere out there on the road collecting the best the world has to offer...
With a PhD in ecology and a career in environmental management, Linda could have been well content with life but found herself increasingly fascinated by the work of her father Bernie, who collected and sold artifacts, jewellery and textiles from ethnic minorities around the world. Spurred on by a deep personal interest in anthropology and the sustainability of third world ecosystems and human culture in the 21st century, Linda resigned from her science career and join her father in business in 2000.
Since then she has visited and traded with numerous tribal groups around the world including the Hmong and Dzao of Vietnam, the Chin, Kachin and Naga of Burma and India, and the Ifago, Bontoc and Banue of the northern Phillipines. She found herself increasingly drawn to all aspects of tribal adornment, particularly beads and beaded jewellery and began a personal collection of unusual and antique beads, many of which are cut, carved or moulded from bone, stone, resin, wood, metal, glass or ceramic and are sourced through broken and damaged tribal pieces that are considered unrepairable.
After undertaking study in the area of jewellery design and studying the beading and jewellery making techniques of various ethnic minorities, Linda began designing and creating necklaces utilising her personal collection. Her necklaces retain the raw beauty of original tribal concepts, but are designed to be worn easily with contemporary fashions. Because the beads are sourced from all corners of the world and are usually only available in limited quantities, Linda's necklaces are generally one-offs, or are created in runs of three or four pieces which share a common theme.
Many of the tribes that Linda visits are traditionally matriarchal in structure. By dealing directly with women and women's co-operatives wherever possible, she is able to ensure that the money paid for beads, textiles and ornaments goes directly to those who benefit from it the most. By supporting traditional methods of handicraft design and production, she hopes to encourage local industries which have a low impact on the environment and to help encourage ethnic minorities to be self-sufficient.
Ian had already had a taste of what he was in store for when he accompanied Linda on her first Kashgar buying trip in 2000 to southeast Asia. In 2001 he was convinced to leave his career in bar development and management to join Bernie and Linda in the family business for good, and so the Kashgar team was complete.
Often the "voice of reason" in what might otherwise be a very haphazard production, Ian takes care of the business side of the company but has had to dodge opium traders along the Burmese border more than once while out on the road, quite literally risk life and limb alongside Linda to source exotic and unusual pieces for the Kashgar collection.
Over the years Ian has developed his own areas of expertise within the business, in particular in the field of collecting and restoring antique Chinese furniture. He has also developed a natural and deep-seated love of interior and architectural design, which dovetails very neatly with his previous career in bar design and development. Ian is responsible for many of the wonderful displays and layout concepts in our store, and can professionally assist our customers with any conceptualization, structural and design difficulties that they may have in their homes.
Phoenix is the latest addition to the Kashgar family, joining us as a young pup in January 2009. It became apparent very early on that Phoenix was never going to be happy with a stay-at-home position, and soon enough we found ourselves bringing him into the store every day. Our hands were full every minute making sure that he didn't run out out of the store chasing pigeons or barking at our more "suspicious" customers, ie all men over the age of 15 and any women carrying umbrellas, walking sticks or shopping bags. But as he put his puppy months behind him and learned the tricks of retail trade, he has gently mellowed out to become an outstanding employee and all-round concierge for the store. If you would like to read more about the exploits of poodle-boy, you can do so here. Or come in for a visit and a cuddle any time!
Linda has a Honours degree in Marine Biology and a PhD in Ecology from the University of NSW, Australia. She has travelled extensively and is a passionate writer on subjects as diverse as the role played by women throughout history, tribal communities and their customs, symbology and ethnology, talismans and their history. Occasionally she also writes about her travel experiences, her new life on a 25 acres in the Northern Rivers region of northern Australia and her black miniature poodle Phoenix. She is currently writing her first book on talismans.
In 1989 my father Bernard packed in his house painting business and set off for two years on a backpacking trek to the remotest corners of the world. When he finally arrived in the oasis city of Kashgar, China, he was so impressed with its history that he decided to start a new life collecting and selling exotic goods from all over the world. For 2000 years the legendary city of Kashgar was a melting pot of ideas and a key trading post on the historic Silk Road. It was this unique combination of philosophy and trade that my father wanted to recreate at home.
Starting in markets in 1991, he opened his first store in the Sydney suburb of Newtown in 1994. I gave up my own career as a government scientist to join him in 2000 and soon convinced my partner Ian to join us in what was to become the Family Business.
Today our version of Kashgar stocks a hugely diverse range of furniture, rugs, textiles, antiques, handicrafts and jewellery sourced from over twenty different countries including India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Thailand, Burma, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, Turkey, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Our collection includes contemporary and tribal silver and gold jewellery, a unique range of headhunting curios, antique Buddhist relics and a collection of one-off necklaces, earrings and bracelets that I design and create myself using the beads and jewellery making techniques of ethnic minorities from around the globe.
Kashgar is a philosophy as well as a store. We are committed to supporting traditional artisans and small village communities by selling authentic handcrafted goods which are personally collected by us. By supporting traditional methods of design and production we hope to encourage local cottage industries which have a low impact on the environment and help ethnic minorities maintain their self-sufficiency into the 21st Century. We are particularly committed to assisting women around the world and to this end have worked with several organisations including the Hua Bin Women's Union of Vietnam, the East Timorese Women's Association and Tikondane in Zambia. Time honoured means of craftsmanship and traditional ways of life are disappearing as people all over the world give up their identity in favour of jeans and T-shirts. We see our trade as a means of staving off the inevitable encroachment of the 21st century, assisting communities to decide for themselves which parts of the western world they wish to incorporate (medicine, education) and which they wish to reject (prostitution, drug production, begging and servitude to warlords). We encourage our customers to think of the handicrafts and artifacts they buy from us as an investment: a piece of history and a way of life that may soon be gone forever.
Kashgar has recently closed its retail outlet and gone completely online.
In the past our pieces appeared in many movies including The Hobbit, Mission Impossible 2, Queen of the Damned, Scooby Doo, Moulin Rouge and Wolverine, and in many televisions series, as well as in plays, commercials and exhibitions. We've found special pieces for individual customers as well as for film sets, event management companies, hotels, businesses, consulates and embassies. The uniqueness of our stock means that we are also very appealing to interior and fashion designers with a taste for the exotic.
There is something for everyone at Kashgar - collectors, the curious, those looking for a special present or for something unique to adorn the home. Most of our items are one-off specialties; other pieces we only stock in small quantities so as to continuously offer a wide and ever-changing range of interesting products. We are also packed with ideas for decorating home and work premises that will challenge your established concepts of design and storage.
Please enjoy - Linda Heaphy
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