History

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ART OF KHAMAK

Afghanistan has for centuries produced exquisite regional art works, including rugs, pottery, and embroidery. The women of Southern Afghanistan practiced and perfected one such art form, the rare and unique embroidery called Khamak (pronounced kha-mahk). Kandahar Treasure is reviving Khamak among contemporary Afghan women and making it available to national and international buyers. The value of our work has been recognized by international textile experts and and given the title of “heirloom” pieces. Our loyal customers encourage and motivate us to continue propogating this beautiful and rare textile tradition while empowering poor women artisans. Since its inception, Kandahar Treasure provides working opportunity to over 1,000 women who not only preserve the tradition of Khamak but also sustain their families through their needles. Kandahar Treasure helps build Afghanistan’s economy by building its infrastructure of production and marketing and empowers women to lead their families into a more peaceful and prosperous future.

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KANDAHAR TRADITION

Khamak, an intricate form of embroidery, is worked in silk thread and is a trademark of Kandahar. Girls learn this ancient art form at an early age and continue to do it throughout their lives. Inspired by complex Islamic geometric patterns, Khamak is unique to Kandahar and is considered by art experts to be one of the world’s finest embroidery techniques. It is traditionally used to decorate the striking, floor-length shawls worn by Southern Afghan men, as well as table linen, women’s head-coverings, and girls’ wedding trousseaus.

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WORKS OF HONOR & LOVE

Traditional Khamak includes natural themes, such as flowers, leaves and trees, in addition to the geometric shapes of Islamic art. The women of Kandahar Treasure themselves creatively combine natural and geometric shapes to create patterns much like their ancestors did. But they are also continuously creating new designs, many of which will be showcased for the first time to the public on their most beloved man (a brother, husband, or son). In Southern Afghanistan, women rely on their men to be the exhibitors of their fine art, and men have naturally learned to “show-off” publicly with the best embroidered work on their attire.

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STITCHING HOPES & DREAMS

The practice of Khamak embroidery provides spiritual escape from the mundane, meaningless, day-to-day life of Afghan women. Through the refinement of her stitches, the Kandahar woman expresses her innermost desire for aesthetic beauty. Hajira describes this in her own words when she writes “When I would get into an argument with my husband, and he would leave the house to calm his anger, I had the four walls of my house around me to calm myself down. My anger and frustration would feel like a mountain on my shoulders…Doing Khamak gave me the peace that I needed. Through creating beautiful designs I would divert my mind to calm myself down, and the end result of finishing a beautiful work of art would give me the satisfaction that I needed.” Afghan women stitch their hopes, dreams and desires into embroidery as quietly as they live in Kandahar.

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