Carpet Weaving; An Industry that Owes to the Artistic Fingers of Afghan Women

Carpet weaving is one of the oldest and most important crafts in Afghanistan, and a large number of citizens are engaged in this work.

Abdul Latif Sahak
30 Jan 2023
Carpet Weaving; An Industry that Owes to the Artistic Fingers of Afghan Women

Afghan carpet weavers, weave carpets by hand, and this art, which has been passed down from generation to generation since ancient times, is still preserved in its ancient form in Afghanistan.


In the carpet weaving industry in Afghanistan, women play a greater role, they spin the sheep’s wool and also collect the plants needed to dye the carpet fibers.

On the other hand, the weaving of each carpet takes months, and men and women take a lot of effort to complete each carpet.

In the past, Turk descent women in northern Afghanistan were famous for carpet weaving, and this profession was mostly considered to belong to them, but little by little, other citizens also took to this job.

Shabana, who is the mother of several children, weaves colorful silk carpets with her artistic fingers.

He has been working in carpet weaving for several years, but he complains about the decrease in the price of carpets in the market and the low wages of this job.

“Weaving carpets is our profession and we weave all day long, but the yarn is expensive and there is nothing left for us. The daily wage of a carpet weaver is no more than 400 to 500 Afghani.”

Narges, another carpet weaver in Mazar-e-Sharif, while complaining about the low wages, wants the Islamic Emirate to provide a selling platform for the products of carpet weavers so that their carpets can be sold at a higher price and there will be a change in the income of the workers.

“Weaving a carpet takes a lot of time, but our products do not sell. We ask the Islamic Emirate to cooperate with us in selling carpets and give us economic support.”

Afghan carpets, which are mostly woven by women, are first marketed in the country’s big cities and then are introduced to foreign markets by traders.

The street of carpet sellers in the east of Rawzaye Mubarak in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif is one of the famous and old carpet markets where many sellers have gathered.

I talk to Haji Gul Amir, one of the carpet sellers, while he put his feet under the chair and threw off his warm winter blanket, he talked about the lack of market sellers.

He continued that people don’t have money these days, many people are thinking of finding a piece of bread for their children and they don’t want to buy expensive things like carpets.

“The yarn and color of the carpet are expensive. One meter of a good carpet costs 5 to 6 thousand Afghanis, that’s why nobody can buy Afghan carpet inside the country.”

According to this carpet seller, when the carpet products are not sold, the first step is the loss to the women who toil for months behind the carpet weaving carpets in the villages.

At the same time, Sanatullah, another carpet seller, has complained about the increase in the price of carpet yarn and color and wants the current government to pay attention to the problems of the industrialists.

“Raw materials should be cheap and industrialists should be supported.”

According to carpet experts, Turkmen carpets are produced in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, which are more interested in domestic and foreign buyers, and this industry has also grown in the southern and western provinces of the country, especially in the production of Balochi carpets.

Mohammad Anwar Rahimi, the head of the Northern Carpet Weavers Union, says that carpet production has increased significantly in the past year, but the sales market is not satisfactory.

“The production of carpets in Afghanistan has increased by 25% almost since the establishment of the Islamic Emirate.”

While Afghanistan’s carpets were world famous in the past, these days carpet producers and sellers complain about the lack of a selling market.

At the same time, the official of the Northern Carpet Weavers Union says that part of Afghanistan’s carpets are smuggled to neighboring countries and then sold to the world markets under the name of the same countries.

“Our exports are not equal to our production. From 70 to 80 percent of the carpets of our country are smuggled to one of the neighboring countries and are exported from there under their name. This situation has also had a negative impact on the price of Afghan carpets inside the country. ”

Because of its natural color and beautiful design, the Afghan carpet won international awards at the Hamburg Exhibition in Germany in 2008, 2013, and 2014.

Saifullah Sadat, one of the trade and industry experts in Balkh considers the marketing of handicrafts and their export to foreign countries as one of the ways out of the economic problems in the country.

“Let’s try to present our hand-woven industry and the labor of our workers to the world with its right methods.”

Although women face restrictions in working outside the home with the arrival of the Islamic Emirate, government officials emphasize the value of women’s handicrafts.

Officials at the Balkh Department of Industry and Trade said that they will soon launch a permanent carpet exhibition in Mazar-e-Sharif to market carpet products permanently.

Mawlawi Nasir Ahmad Niazi, the Deputy Financial Commissioner of the Balkh Department of Industry and Trade, says: “We must have a market to be a permanent exhibition for carpet products. We have started this work and it has progressed to 70%. The location of this permanent exhibition has been chosen. We did and our department along with the carpet weavers union are trying in this regard.

It should be mentioned that the carpets of northern regions of the country, which are produced in different colors and styles, have a special reputation in the domestic and international markets.

While in Afghanistan, carpet weaving is still done by hand, but other countries such as; Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkey have introduced many products to the market by building carpet-weaving factories.

According to the statistics published in recent years, about 45% of Afghanistan’s exports in recent years were carpets, whose export value reached 231 million dollars, but this year there is no news about the export of carpets and the market for this Afghan product.

Translated by: Shir Ali Jafari

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