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Beadwork from Afghanistan(page one)

by Bucklee Bell

Beads have been found in Afghanistan since very ancient times. Many different cultural groups live in the country. They are, or mostly were, nomadic and decoration as tribal identification is very important.

"A nomad's territory is in one sense boundless, but there is an established path linking a tribe's seasonal pastures, known as "the way." The packing up and moving of the tribe along the path was, and still is, a twice-yearly ritual in which bags and animal-trappings decorated with beads, shells, buttons and metal discs, long wrapped cords and tassels add to the colour and ceremony." (Harvey 1996:7)

This article looks at various beaded pieces produced by the different ethnic groups of Afghanistan. I bought these in Pakistan.

At left and above: These are called gul-i-peron. The Pashtun people make small circular pieces of felt or leather decorated with seed beads, shells, mirrors, etc. that are attached to dresses, bags, purses, and other items. From Ghazni Province.

Two items above:

Pashtun beaded headpieces.

Right: Pashtun beaded skullcap.

Above and Left: Turkmen hats with attached metal coins, pendants, small metal plates, beaded tassels, etc. Possibly worn by unmarried girls.

      Right: Another Turkmen hat.
      This one is decorated with cowry shells at the edge.

Left: Kohistan child's hat. The Kohistani people live in mountainous northeast. Pakistan next to the Afghan border and are related to the Nuristanis across the border.

Left and Above: Kuchi or Pashtun tribal woman's dress with embroidery and beaded attachment. The picture above shows details of the beadwork on the attachment.

Next Page >


Harvey, Janet (1996)Traditional Textiles of Central Asia. London: Thames and Hudson.

Kalter, Johannes (1983)The Arts and Crafts of Turkestan. London: Thames and Hudson.

 © 2002 Bucklee Bell


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