Kashgar began through a love of travel. 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 arrived in the oasis city of Kashgar (or Käshí) in Xinjiang Provence, China after an extended period of very rough travel, he was so impressed with the history of the region that he decided on the spot to start a new life collecting and selling exotic goods from all over the world. Kashgar is a legendary city, famous for over 2000 years as a melting pot both for revolutionary ideas and new concepts, but also as the key trading post on the Silk Road. It was this unique combination of philosophy and exotica that Bernard wanted to recreate at home. Starting in markets in 1991, he opened his first store in the Sydney suburb of Newtown in 1994. Fascinated by his travels, I gave up my career as a government scientist to join him sixteen years ago and soon convinced my partner Ian to join us in what has since 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 2000-piece 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 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, begging, 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 currently has one retail outlet in Sydney. Our pieces have appeared as props in movies such as The Hobbit, Mission Impossible 2, Queen of the Damned, Scooby Doo, Moulin Rouge and Wolverine, and in series such as Farscape and Beastmaster, as well as in a large number of plays, commercials and exhibitions. We are occasionally commissioned to find 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. New stock arrives all the time, and 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