Since I first started my business, Nomad Rugs, in 1995 I have sold thousands of rugs woven by Afghan weavers. Over the 20 years I have been in business, it is safe to say that Afghan rugs hold a special place in my heart. And my dealings with Afghan weavers, merchants and producers has enriched my life. I deeply respect the culture, creativity and hard work of these remarkable people whom I have had the good fortune to know.
This is not the Afghanistan we read about in the paper. Since the Soviet invasion in 1979 upended this country we have read mostly about the violence and the instability these long suffering people have endured. However, the large majority of Afghans crave to raise their families in peace.
Weaving remains an industry that provides families needed work and stability. Many farmers and villagers set up looms in their own homes to supplement their incomes. And these looms allow families to stay together. Without the income from weaving, members of the household might otherwise be forced to find work in distant cities. This stability fosters peace.
Below you will find some beautiful images provided with permission by James Opie. The weavers pictured are weaving the gorgeous rugs that he has commissioned. Following is a paragraph that he recently wrote about the weavers. (come on by our shop in San Francisco or shop online to see these incredible textiles)
“Afghanistan has been a battleground for geopolitical ambitions and causes no ordinary Afghan villager cares about. Since the 1700’s, Afghanistan never invaded anyone! Wanting only to be with their families, in peace, millions of villagers have watched other nations, and regional warlords, fight for so long the participants forgot why they were fighting. Yet, Afghan culture at the village level remains intact and strong, due to the steadfastness of the Afghan people, their shared values, and the role of traditional handicrafts, which can provide employment even in remote areas. If the rugs our village weavers fashion so beautifully find appreciative markets in the West, all of us will benefit. The weavers will be at home with their children, earning living wages and contributing to Afghanistan’s stability and its gross national product. Knot-by-knot, weaver-by-weaver, a renewed Afghanistan will continue to appear.” James Opie. March 2015