The local Directorate of Antiquities granted him a six-month lease for one of the large houses in the citadel. It has just undergone a refurbishment and officially reopened this month.Traditionally the carpets and kilims exhibited in the museum were woven in the villages of Iraqi Kurdistan, or by nomadic Kurdish tribes, on small transportable looms, which were often hung from door frames.In 2004, Mustafa returned to Kurdistan and was determined to do something with the large collection of carpets and kilims he had amassed in Erbil.By then, he had lectured in the United States and exhibited some of the carpets at an exhibition in Sweden.It is almost impossible to find a carpet or kilim produced in the Kurdistan region of Iraq after the mid-1980s.Following various Kurdish uprisings in the 1960s and 1970s, Saddam Hussein’s regime embarked on a mission to destroy the villages in Kurdistan, and with it much of the unwritten history and culture of Iraqi Kurds.Selling the region’s history is something Mustafa fervently opposes: "We really shouldn’t be selling off the final pieces of our history so cheaply.
Many people come and ask if I know anyone that can still make these beautiful carpets, but sadly I have to say no. - Aram Ismail, carpet trader in the Sulaymaniyah bazaar Up to 182,000 people lost their lives, and many nomadic tribes were exiled to settlements in the south of Iraq, losing their centuries-old way of life.In Ismail’s corner of the bazaar, there is a cluster of shops selling these old colourful local carpets, with maybe one or two others across the city.It is getting harder and harder for them to find stock."After taking an anthropology class, I wrote a paper on Kurdish nomads.During the research process I found a few books on Kurdish carpets and that was it; I was hooked," he said.