Mariam Sheik, 30, demonstrates on a cotton sample how she would be weaving silk in Herat, Afghanistan on June 13, 2020. Photo Credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation/Stefanie Glinski

Society Afghanistan16. July 2020

Ancient Craft of Making Silk Gives Women New Jobs

The ancient traditional craft of cultivating silk is making a comeback in Afghanistan, creating work in the outskirts of the ancient city of Herat for around 4,000 women, who manually spin yarn after raising silkworms and harvesting their cocoons.

Herat was once an important Silk Road trading hub, but when country suffered decades of war, a lot of its culture and traditional crafts were put to the side. Now, an association – the Rehabilitation Association and Agriculture Development for Afghanistan – has been providing women with support by involving them in the ancient craft of silk making.

“My great-grandfather was a silk maker, so there is pride in picking up his work again,” says Mariam Sheikh, who was given a box of 20,000 silkworm eggs by a local aid group last year and has already produced about 40 kgs of silk. “Our community respects and encourages the silk trade and besides that, it has helped me gain financial independence.”

“For the past years, our country has been known for war,” she adds. “It’s time the world knew Afghanistan for its arts and crafts, its culture, people – and its silk.”

Thomson Reuters Foundation

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