Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 by the author(s).


Afghanistan before 1979 was a treasure trove of textiles produced domestically by peasant and nomad alike and by artisans working on a small scale all over the country. The diversity of the items produced reflected the diversity of the inhabitants; Uzbek and Turcoman in the north, The Hazara in the Hindu Kush Mountains and the Pushtun in the centre and south. 30 years of war have wiped out nomadism with the irreparable loss of many types of textiles though some professional weaving has survived in an attenuated form. In contrast the end of communism in Uzbekistan in 1990 has stimulated textile production particularly of embroidery and ikat. Free market capitalism in the form of the merchants of the Istanbul bazaar has provided both the capital and a market for the revival of traditional textile production. This paper will look at the effects of the war on Afghani textiles and look to a possible future perhaps based on the Uzbekistan model.