Restless Native has remained fiercely independent and unique because of the small traders we buy from across continents. Sophia and Abu have a beautiful gallery in Kathmandu but when I first met them, some 20 years ago, they had a tiny shop that seemed stuffed to the ceiling with their collections from Tibet and across Asia. Since 1959, when the Chinese invaded Tibet, many Tibetans fled and sought refuge in the Kathmandu valley. This valley was the ancient crossroads for traders from as far as Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir & the Middle East. There was a time when sitting with Sophia & Abu, on the floor of their shop, drinking Tibetan butter tea, we would be joined by visiting traders carrying sacks of jade, turquoise, river pearls, coral, lapis lazuli silver & much more. I still treasure an oiled leather rope of ancient lapis lazuli stones and old coins that I bought from Pashto tribal men. It was a common sight to see these proud men walk through the town with sacks on their backs having walked weeks across the mountains to trade in the Kathmandu valley. Sadly this well trodden, ancient silk route has become treacherous to cross & due to restrictions and recent wars these traders are no longer seen. Adding to this, the devastating earthquake of 2015, has caused much demolishing in many parts of Kathmandu and property developers have moved in with globalised corporations creating shopping malls and vast stores selling products that mimic western consumerism - mass produced goods from china are replacing the ancient craftsmanship of hand-made unique wares. Still, as long as there is an appreciation for the beautiful skills of these independent makers and shops, we @restlessnative.cornwall intend to continue to support these individuals as long as we can.
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