Sunday, 7 June 2009

Embroidery from Afghanistan

I had the privilege to visit Afghanistan in October 2006. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I will treasure it as one of the highlights of my life. Not only for the opportunity to see and experience this wonderful and at the same time painful country, but also for the absolutely amazing people I have met there.
Before I went a friend gave me this piece of embroidery as a gift. She has lived in Pakistan before and has visited Afghanistan on several occasions. This is hand embroidered with silk tread on a cotton background. It has been done by Afghan women in their traditional designs.

Afghanistan was part of the Silk Route years ago. As a result these women are used to working with silk tread that they obtained from China.

While I was in Kabul I bought this runner from people working for a NGO. They provide the local woman with linen and cotton sheets. The local women then hand embroiders the pieces with silk thread, in their traditional designs. The people from the NGO then sells it on their behalf. In this way the women, who are all uneducated and in many cases confined to their homes, gain a bit of independence.

This long red cloth I bought from a carpet shop in Mazar-i-Sharif, a town in the northern part of the country. These kind of cloths are usually used in a horizontal position to cover the space under a shelf or bench as can be seen in the photo of the carpet shop. I use it to cover the window on the landing of our staircase. I have lined it with some cotton to protect it from the sun.
It is all hand embroidered:

The shop where I bought this red cloth:


Janet Brady said...

Wow! What beautiful textile design. It amazes me that the motifs are so common across cultures. Wouldn't it be great if we could focus on commonalities like these between our cultures instead of hyping up the differences for political gains?

Muddlepud said...

What beautiful handiwork! The richness of color & style is inspiring!