The Afghan province of Badakhshan lies in the North-East corner of the country and borders China, Tajikistan and Pakistan. It was once part of the wider historical Badakhshan region that also included Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. Badakhsan lay on one of the Silk Routes, was (and still is) famous for its Lapis Lazuli, and counted Marco Polo as one of its travelers.
I had the privalege of visiting Afghan Badakhshan several years ago now in the middle of winter. I began my journey in the capital, Faizabad. The hills that surrounded the valley where the town is situated and the river that ran through its heart give it a natural beauty.
I was fascinated by Faizabad’s bazaar. Unlike the western concept of a shopping mall, the bazaar represents more than loud consumerism. In many ways it lies at the heart of community life, and is a centre for news, gossip, food and drink, social connections, and of course essential staple items for purchase. This may explain why I often dislike shopping in the West but love the experience in the East. More on that in another post.
I was able to experience a taste of rural life in Badakhshan as well, and traveled to the border with Tajikistan. Pictured here is an example of a beautiful Pamiri ceiling with a skylight. Hidden within the construction of Pamiri houses lies deep symbolism significant to Ismaili Muslims with some features possibly originating in Zoroastrianism as well.