Glass production in Herat still operates much as it has for hundreds of years - in one-room workshops with a single mud-brick furnace. By the 1960s, glass production was reduced to several small factories, with one workshop run by a family that had been making glass for two hundred years.
Herati glass preparation by Turquoise MountainTurquoise Mountain
The traditional technique of making Herati glass used methods that are similar to those found on ancient cuneiform tablets. Like ceramics in Istalif, the glass was covered with a natural glaze made of white quartz (mined from riverbeds) and the ash of ishkar, a desert bush. After ishkar was piled into a pit and burned, the ashes were left to cool over night. Long ago, nomadic peoples in northern Afghanistan used ishkar to make soap, but they sold some to glass blowers and potters for glaze. Glass blowers chose the best ishkar by tasting it. The sweeter the taste, they used to say, the better the quality. Nowadays, glassblowers use different modern glazes to create glassware.
Herati Glass making process by Turquoise MountainTurquoise Mountain
Forming the glass involves blowing sharp bursts of air through a long metal pipe to inflate the molten glass into a bubble, called a parison. The glass is then rolled on a marver, or steel slab, to cool it down and to allow it to be molded into different shapes.
Herati Glass bright Turquoise colour by Turquoise MountainTurquoise Mountain
Today, Herati glass is still made by hand. This glassware is popular in Europe, which helps to ensure this living cultural heritage will survive for many years to come.
Herati Glass (2014) by Turquoise MountainTurquoise Mountain