The Kurdish Globe
By Qassim Khidhir
Dressed in an immaculate traditional Peshmarga uniform, Qadir Qachakh walks confidently around his private museum that filled with archeological treasures from many Kurdish areas. As he describes the pieces, their ages and where they were found, his passion shines through. He said he visited tens of museums all over Europe and "none of the museums had more archeological pieces than mine."
Born in a village near Duhok, Qachakh joined the Peshmarga forces in 1980, fighting against the Iraqi army of Saddam Hussein. Today, he is still a prominent Peshmarga figure. He started collecting antiquities and historical items in 1994 when he was Head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party branch in Akre, an ancient town in Duhok Governorate.
During the UN embargo on Iraq in the 1990s, people in Iraq and Kurdistan were starving, struggling to get food each day; nothing mattered except getting something to eat. Many priceless archeological treasures were stolen and sold to collectors in neighboring countries.
Qachakh, who has always loved archeology, told The Kurdish Globe he "felt a national duty to protect Kurdistan's archeological pieces." Besides looting, some people damaged artifacts because they did not realize how important they were.
In the beginning, he collected items in Akre. Once the word got out that Qachakh was interested in antiquities, people informed him whenever they found items, sometimes in return for a nominal amount of money, and other times they simply gave him the pieces for his reputation. When people came to know he wanted to preserve Kurdistan's heritage, people all over Kurdistan started giving him items they found in their villages or that they had in their homes.
His collection grew to thousands of items and he turned his wife's large garden, beneath the Duhok Mountain in Duhok's Sarbasi quarter, into a museum. On 8 March 2008, which was his birthday and Women's Day, he opened his museum to honor his wife.
The museum has 10 departments. In the archeology department, many of the pieces have a note to say who donated the item to Qachakh, where it was discovered and the age of the piece, based on information from local and international archaeologists. The other departments are: folklore, currency, fossils, drawings, antiques, theater, calligraphy and weapons. The weaponry department includes Manjaniq weapons from the medieval ages.
Qachakh's wife, Bayan Naif Abdulqadir, used to be annoyed by her husband's work collecting historical items. Abdulqadir is more interested in modern life than history and archeology. For more than 20 years, she worked for a women's organization defending women's rights in Duhok Governorate. "He was saving the archeological pieces in our house. Our house was full of them and I didn't even want to clean the house anymore," she told The Globe. "Later, he asked me to turn my garden into a museum."
She is now proud of her husband. "When he first opened the museum, I saw what he has done was really important to Kurdistan." She still works in the women's organization, rather than in the museum.
Qachakh, who also writes poetry, has a good sense of humor. He says it is better for a husband and wife to have different points of view. "If two people think exactly alike, I think the existence of one of them is unnecessary," he joked.
With the help of government, Qachakh plans to build a large, world-class museum. "I don't want to die," he said. "I want my name to be known forever."