Kandahar’s khamak embroiderers call for support to grow domestic market

Embroidery in Afghanistan has a rich history that dates back hundreds of years, especially in the southern province of Kandahar where intricate pieces are worked for men, women and children.

Commonly known as khamak dozi, this ancient craft still flourishes today and provides scores of women with jobs in Kandahar.

In fact the local embroidery market is flourishing, selling mostly hand-embroidered items made by local women. Prices range for individual items from 7,000 afghanis to 15,000 afghanis and shopkeepers provide women with cotton, thread and other materials needed.

One embroiderer, Jamila, said she has been doing this work for the past 15 years and that there are about 40 to 50 women who also work with her.

Generations of Kandahar women have worked as embroiderers.

“It has been decades and years [that people in Kandahar embroider]. I have seen old people saying their parents were doing this,” said Mohammad Adil, head of the embroidery union in Kandahar.

Embroidery traders meanwhile have called for more support and have said they want to expand the Kandahar market to other provinces.

Khamak is the famous whitework embroidery and is worked on a fine cotton or white silk background.

One of the most widespread uses of embroidery is for the small skull caps worn by men and boys, but clothes, scarves and other fabric items are also embroidered.