Afghanistan: Vintage Embroidered Hazara Wallet or Pouch
Afghan Tribal Arts has been importing from Afghanistan and the region since the 1980’s. The focus is on vintage textiles and tribal jewelry as well as new gemstone beads made for jewelry designers. Clicking on the Shop on Etsy button will take you to our shop there where you can see what is currently in stock.
This wallet is from Afghanistan, probably made by the Hazara, an ethnic minority group. This style of embroidery is found in Wardak, Ghazni and Hazarajat, all in Central Afghanistan where the Hazara live. The tiniest of embroidery stitches decorates both the inside and outside of the wallet in a solid design. The edges are finished with seed beads. There are three pockets on the inside which would be used to hold jewelry or money. The content of the embroidery thread is unknown. It feels like wool, but is so bright that it seems unlikely. The inside fabric is rayon. This piece is in good shape.
Dimensions: 10″ x 4.5″ Metric: 25 x 12 cm
Estimated age: 1970’s
The Hazara traditionally lived in Central Afghanistan. If you saw footage of the Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban after 9/11 in Bamiyan, that is Hazara turf. The Hazara look different from the other Afghans in the region, resembling Mongols. There is now proof that they do descend directly from Genghis Khan, along with other tribal groups of the region. They have a different dialect and are Shi’a Muslims, where most Afghans are Sunni. The Pashtun also live in the same areas and have had major conflicts with the Hazara since the mid 1800’s. Both the Taliban and the Kuchi are Pashtun and both have had armed confrontations with the Hazara. The Taliban were especially cruel to the Hazara. Millions have fled to Pakistan, to Kabul, to the North, and gone overseas. The Hazara have benefited greatly by the US invasion and have taken advantage of many educational opportunities and are now in leadership positions.
Afghanistan is a mosaic of ethnicities. Pashtuns comprise the largest group and have traditionally commanded the most power. They’re followed by Tajiks, and then Hazaras. Other groups include Uzbeks, Turkmen, and Baluchs. Although Hazaras are the country’s third largest ethnicity, comprising about 20 percent of the population, they have faced centuries of persecution from both Pashtuns and other groups.
Hazaras are often considered outsiders by other Afghans: Shiite Muslims in a mostly Sunni Muslim nation, they are further distinguished from other Afghans by their Asian features. The story goes that Hazaras are descendants of Genghis Khan and his soldiers, who invaded in the 13th century. Genetic tests show that there is indeed some relationship. But Hazaras’ bloodlines also trace back to the area’s original inhabitants, various regional ethnicities, and travelers who passed along the Silk Route, including Turks and Tajiks. Today, most Hazaras live in the mountainous central highlands, called Hazarajat, an undeveloped rural area that includes four provinces. The most famous is Bamian province, home to the Bamian Buddha statues, which the Taliban destroyed in 2001.
Historically Hazaras settled deeper into the valleys, but decades of conflict drove them up into the rugged mountains. Hoping for a better life, many have also moved to Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, where, today, they make up nearly half of the city’s population. Despite centuries of persecution and the denial of basic civil rights, Hazaras have become leaders in today’s newly emerging Afghanistan. Education is especially important to them, and it shows. Hazara literacy rates are higher than the national average, and nearly all Hazara children—both boys and girls—attend school and go on to university. Hazaras have a reputation for being industrious workers, willing to do whatever job is necessary to take care of their families and, in doing so, to build a more promising future for the entire nation.
Materials Used: cotton, beads, fabric
Afghanistan has been at the heart of the crossroads for the Silk Road for centuries. Nomads and generations of ethnic groups have thrived on trade and beautiful handicraft skills. Textiles, embroidery and carpet weaving continue to represent a plethora of skills that extend on into metal work, wood work, and ceramics. Designs reflect both the beauty of nature and life of spirit in choice of colors and fluidity of the design. Recommended reading: “Traditional Textiles of Central Asia” by Janet Harvey, a wonderful illustrated book on textiles from Afghanistan and the region.
Afghan Tribal Arts has been working with Afghan artists for more than 20 years. Handcarved semi-precious beads are the core focus of the business, but we also have a huge inventory of old and new textiles, carvings and metal work. Abdul Wardak, owner, travels a bead show route between Wisconsin and Florida. Wholesale inquiries are welcome.
Visit our shop on Etsy and check our shop here on Artizan Made as we will have different items in both shops. We combine shipping on purchases between both shops. Free shipping on all purchases over $100 in the US.
We are proud members of TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List.
Afghan Tribal Arts
Abdul Wardak of Afghan Tribal Arts Abdul Wardak has been importing from Afghanistan and the region since the early 1980's. Beads carved from semi-precious stones are the core of the business, but Afghan Tribal Arts also has an extensive collection of tribal jewelry, textiles, carpets, and vintage functional crafts.