Food Afghan ladies spin new careers by reviving ancient Silk Road crafts – Reuters

Food Afghan ladies spin new careers by reviving ancient Silk Road crafts – Reuters


HERAT, Afghanistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – At the time an important Silk Street investing hub, the Afghan metropolis of Herat has prolonged been a cultural centre, but many years of war have ravaged its ancient classic crafts.

Now 1000’s of ladies are returning to the historical methods, looking for to revive the traditions of a metropolis where by traders the moment came to haggle for silk in thick-walled houses and dome-formed bazaars giving respite from scorching summers.

On the outskirts of the historic town, about 4,000 females do the job to cultivate silk, from elevating silkworms, feeding them and harvesting their cocoons to spinning the yarn by hand – a thirty day period-lengthy, labour-intensive method.

Mariam Sheikh, thirty, was supplied a box of 20,000 silkworm eggs by a neighborhood help group final 12 months and has currently developed about forty kgs (88 lb) of silk, which sells at three hundred Afghani ($four) per kg.

“My terrific-grandfather was a silk maker, so there is delight in choosing up his operate all over again,” Sheik, who lives in Herat’s Zinda Jan district, explained to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Her smaller village is surrounded by lush, green mulberry trees, planted a long time ago to feed the expanding silkworms.

“Our local community respects and encourages the silk trade and in addition to that, it has aided me achieve financial independence,” she additional.

After the cocoons are dried, the processing into yarn is typically performed by hand, though the women hope to import a machine to enable pace up the approach.

At the second there is only just one aged spinning machine in Herat metropolis, with not adequate potential to system them all.


Women of all ages have manufactured huge strides in the conservative state given that the Taliban rule of 1996 to 2001, when they had been banned from attending college or perform and could not even go outside the house with out a male relative.

Increasing numbers of girls now finish education and learning and operate in formerly male bastions, but they however encounter hurdles.

Four decades of war, from occupation to inner preventing, have wrecked the economy, rendering it among the the poorest in the environment, with handful of work – specifically for younger ladies, who occupy a notably precarious location.

Several face cultural boundaries and hostility not just from conservative loved ones users, but also hardline Islamist groups, for pursuing economical independence and greater equality.

According to Earth Lender details, just above 20% of Afghan females do the job, up from about fifteen% in 2001, when the Taliban fell.

There are fears that a last withdrawal of U.S. troops, the winding down of intercontinental engagement and the re-emergence of the Taliban may perhaps reverse gains.

“Herat is a conventional province exactly where few ladies are observed – or even authorized by their households – to function outside,” reported Mariam Zemoni, a single of about 30 women of all ages who weave the silk into scarves and material.

“That’s another motive why weaving silk is ideal for me,” explained the 23-calendar year-aged, who makes at the very least two scarves a working day, selling them for 250 Afghani every.

Nazir Ahmad Ghafoori, head of the Rehabilitation Association and Agriculture Advancement for Afghanistan which has supported the ladies, mentioned 70% of the cocoons have been offered to Iran and Pakistan because of a absence of processing ability.

He hopes to involve a lot more women in Afghanistan’s silk manufacturing, increasing to provinces beyond Herat.

“The custom is countless numbers of yrs aged, and we Afghans obtain satisfaction in our artwork and lifestyle – and the revival of it,” he explained to the Thomson Reuters Basis

Because doing the job with the women of all ages in Zinda Jan, his organisation has set up the moral trend initiative, aiming to export silk developed beneath reasonable working ailments throughout the world.

An government board of fifty women of all ages in the district oversees and studies on each woman’s doing work situation.

Sheik, who is on the board, mentioned the company had boosted the economy all over the district.

Whatsoever silk is not exported or offered in other areas of Afghanistan makes it to Herat’s aged silk bazaar, where vendors sit in little stores with large ceilings adorned with carved ornaments reminiscent of the Silk Street era.

“For the previous several years, our region has been identified for war,” mentioned Sheik. “It’s time the world knew Afghanistan for its arts and crafts, its culture, individuals – and its silk.”

Reporting by Stefanie Glinksi Modifying by Claire Cozens. Remember to credit history the Thomson Reuters Basis, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that handles the life of persons all around the entire world who battle to stay freely or relatively. Pay a visit to http://information.rely