Afghanistan with its rich history and culture, is known for its beautifully woven carpets. Famous for their quality and made with designs unique to Afghanistan, these carpets stand out from copycats traded in neighboring countries. There are several types of Afghan carpets, Khal Mohammadi, Chobi, Balouchi and Kilim. The Khal Mohammadi style is named for the man who developed the red dyes commonly found in these rugs.
Aseel, in an attempt to preserve the traditions and identity of the carpets that are authentically Afghan, is working to ensure that locally made Afghan carpets make it to global markets. One of Aseel’s partners, Mohammad Ashraf, has qaleen (meaning ‘carpet’) production company located in Aqcha, 31 miles outside of the northern Sheberghan province. With an ethnic majority of Turkmens and Uzbeks, Aqcha’s rich and diverse culture is known for the traditional carpets and rugs that are made in the region. Mohammad Ashraf’s shop specializes in the distinctive Khal Mohammadi rugs, rich with dark reds, blues, and blacks and distinctive with bright, intricate patterns. Mohammad Ashraf’s shop begins the carpet making process by locally sourcing wool from sheep in the village, then carding and spinning it into the bright blue and red yarn to be woven into carpets.
Interestingly, Ashraf’s shop sources weaving labor from local families in Aqcha, making his process the town’s process. Families in the are given designs to weave the carpets at their own homes. Then once complete, they are taken back to Ashraf’s shops to be washed and cut for final sale. It is amazing how these carpets are made locally with the help of an entire town and then sold globally as these famous luxury items. It is due to the quality of the yarn from Ashraf’s shop as well as the generations of weaving technique handed down from generation to generation in Aqcha. Throughout the region, there is trade of Afghan carpets, by neighboring countries such as Pakistan claiming Afghan carpets as their own original productions. This sometimes makes it difficult for locally-sourced shops such as Mohammad Ashraf’s to compete with often factory-made, mass-produced carpets. However, authentic production companies such as Mohammad Ashraf’s shop in Aqcha and others throughout Afghanistan are aware of the global demand for their authentic craft. Aseel is committed to giving vendors like our valued partner Mohammad Ashraf access to the wider global market.
Mohammad Ashraf is following a centuries-old tradition of carpet-making and as such is eager to share his heritage and traditions via his carpets, straight from the Aqcha shops out to the rest of the world. Khal Mohammadi-style carpets are one of several kinds of carpets that are always in high demand due to their long-lasting high quality and the beautiful, traditional aesthetic that they add to any space. Mohammad Ashraf who is one of Afghanistan’s leading producer of the distinctive Khal Mohammadi-style carpet is optimistic that his business of beautiful, Afghan-made carpets can grab and hold the world’s attention. Having partnered with us to develop his business, Ashraf envisions his shop’s future as achieving the global recognition it deserves. Aseel’s simple e-commerce platform will connect Ashraf’s far-away shop to buyers throughout the western world. In sharing Mohammad Ashraf’s craftsmanship, Aseel shares more than just carpets with the world, but the rich, diverse culture that Afghanistan-made goods offer.