Every culture in the world consists of two major parts; material culture and non-material culture. The material culture includes all the tangible objects that are socially used in a society. The material culture may include cloth, jewelry, pottery and other objects that are a part of a society, while the non-material culture may include the norms, values and rules and regulations prevailing in various institutions.
Both material and non-material cultures of a society integrate to form a complete culture. The material culture of a society may include the natural objects, with or without alterations, or they may include the objects which are completely man-made. They not only serve as fulfilling a particular necessity of the society but can also serve as its identification.
The objects that are man-made require skill and concentration. Almost every culture in the world has such objects and such skills. Some of the skills are universal, i.e. they prevail almost in every culture but there are some skills in every culture that are unique to that particular culture, and it is because of those skills and their productions that make a culture differ from others.
They become the symbols of recognition of a culture. Apart from social importance; they, if given proper attention, can benefit the society in economic terms as well. Most of the societies of the world have benefited from their unique skills and have industrialized their products in order to gain the attentions of international market and be an integral part of economic support for them.
Afghan culture is also equipped with such skills and their marvelous products. But, as there have been continuous wars in our country such skills have not gotten great chances of dissemination and exposure. Still, they exist and make our culture stand unique and are also the symbol of our recognition. Among them the notable one is our handicrafts.
As the country has not been through the processes of industrialization, these handicrafts have been serving as the source of income and also as the cultural symbols. In addition, they also depict the dependence of the people more on their hands' skills than the machines. Among our handicrafts the most notable items are the carpets and rugs.
The weaving of carpets and rugs is not a new phenomenon; it has its origin very early in human beings' civilized history. They are the gifts of agricultural age. These carpets and rugs are mostly woven both by males and females with the threads that are made from the hair of camel, ship and sometimes cotton. They depict the agricultural aspect of our culture and the fact that most of Afghan people have been largely dependent on farming and using pets and their products for different purposes.
The Afghan carpets and rugs are famous for their colors and patterns. Their colors are mostly bright, including many colors woven on red background and the patterns are marked with bold geometric shapes and medallions embellished further by zigzags, stripes and squares. Furthermore, they are very much reliable as far as the quality is concerned and can be useful for many years and most importantly, they have been able to gain the attention of not only local appreciators of art and craft but also of the international ones.
They can really find an especial place in world market if promoted properly. However, the turbulent aspect of our society has always stopped our cultural traits from flourishing appropriately. The wars have always threatened our cultural traits to hide away un-noticed. There has been much loss in that regard. Yet, there are possibilities to excel much in this field.
No doubt, our handicrafts possess and will keep on possessing an important position in our culture even after so much industrialization and modernization in the world. It is because the value of handmade objects can never be under-estimated. But, it is also a fact that modern techniques can really help us in improving our skills in this regard. They can also help us in producing more than we do with the older techniques. Further, the new ideas of commercialization can also assist us in promoting our handicrafts in international markets.
Therefore, the government and private industries must always keep on searching for such techniques in order to bring out afghan handicrafts out of oblivion, and make the world realize their importance. Proper institutionalization of this skill can really help in doing so and the international exhibitions, both by national and international organizations can also play a major role in introducing our handicrafts to the world.
In the same regard, the Afghanistan's participation in different regional and international exhibitions of handicrafts and industrial products can play a very important role. Such exhibitions can be an extremely important opportunity for Afghan handicrafts to acquire a prominent place in the world market.
Afghan handicrafts have all the potential to compete with international handicrafts and they can find good value in the international market as well. Moreover, the Afghan authorities must also strive to arrange national exhibitions and keep on supporting and encouraging efforts to improve the industry so that the people who can play a tremendous role in this regard must not hesitate to come forward.
Afghan culture has an advantage of having handicrafts in its contents. These handicrafts are now an integral part of our tradition and can serve as an important industry in future. The proper promotion of this industry will not only be helpful in generating economic gains but will also provide many skilled jobless people great opportunity of earning livelihood for them.
It will also be helpful from the view that it will engage people in constructive activity, rather than becoming part of destructive activities, like terrorism. Further, it will also provide great opportunity of engaging more women of the society in this field, without much deterrence from tribal bans, because they can carry on this task right in their houses. And, the most important thing is that its promotion can be helpful in making the new generation inherit the skill with the same standard and even better.
Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at email@example.com
The Daily Outlook, September 22, 2012