The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.
EconomicNationalReportSocial

Silk work and silk weaving, tradition in Afghanistan

Silk weaving dates back thousands of years and kept thousands of Afghan families in business. The people especially women are still weaving silk products in various parts of the country, particularly in Herat, a province in the country’s west that has a long tradition of producing silk used to weave carpets and silk.
Decades of war and fighting have put negative impacts on silk weaving and its business in the country. Now that security has improved following the Islamic Emirate (IEA) takeover, people particularly women have once again turned to weaving silk, but sales of silk products have fallen, and the market for silk weaving in Herat has shrunk.
According to the weavers, poor-quality fabrics imported from neighboring countries have replaced domestic silk fabrics, such as winter blankets and handkerchiefs. The once flourishing silk trade that it was so proud of has been threatened by cheaper foreign imports which threatened generations of silk making families.
Silk weavers believe that some traders have started importing Chinese and Pakistani silk products which are sold in low prices in Afghanistan markets. Therefore, people have turned to buying foreign silk products as they’re cheaper than those made or produced by Afghans.
Despite that there’s no good market for silk products in Afghanistan, Afghan silk weavers say they have not stopped the silk weaving profession. According to silk weavers in Herat, silk weaving is the profession of most families; therefore, they will not stop the silk weaving profession.
Based on reports, thousands of people and their families are involved in silk weaving which aims to provide a means of subsistence and potentially lead the international market access for silk producers in the country.
Herat is famous for its mulberry trees which the silkworms feed on and thrive in the dry climate. The popular wool and silk Afghanistan carpets made by different segments of the people can sell for a price that can cost thousands of U.S. dollars.
Carpets are Afghanistan’s best-known export, woven mostly by women and children in the north of the country, a trade which once employed, directly or indirectly, six million people, or a fifth of the country’s population, although that figure has dropped sharply in recent years.
In recent years cheaper silk has been bought as an alternative but as with any material which is cheaper to produce and buy, the quality is also lessened. For example, a pure, silk scarf might cost some 300 – 500 afghani, whereas a synthetic type of silk which could be imported from China, Pakistan and other neighboring countries would cost lower than 200 afghani.
The silk market is located in a historic site in Herat’s ancient city. Only four of the several weaving machines that were once present in this market are still in use. In Herat’s silk market, the price of natural threads has doubled recently and Afghanistan-made silk products have the best quality and cost higher than those imported from regional countries particularly Pakistan and China.
Once there had been silk business in the region. People still know about the Silk Road that came into being from the 1st century BC, following efforts by the Yuezhi and Xiongnu in the Tarim Basin in north west China to consolidate a road to the Western world and India.
Saida Ahmadi

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.