Those familiar with my uncanny attraction to all things Tribal, are well aware of the paralysis I face in the presence of these beauties. Every time I set eyes on a display of the Afghan culture, a plethora of emotions takes over and my first instinct is to hoard and hoard!
The rudimentary existence of the Afghan tribe dates back to 3000 years, found primarily in Central Asia. From an overview of the developing cultures across the world, it is apparent that the spirit of art is essentially ‘Banjara’. The Afghani tribes are no less, with their benchmark and trend-setting skills, up to date.
They have always taken immense pride in the rich history they possess; be it their garments, textiles or the ornamental wonders. The natives of this culture have always been a step ahead of time; as is evident from the western clothing during the reign of Zahir Shah in the 1950s. The women, according to changing fashion norms, fearlessly wore short skirts and sleeves in the city of Kabul!
The beautiful ensemble of jewellery has always been an essential part of the tradition and attire of the Afghans. Much like their clothing, the craft of ornament making was also way ahead of its time. The most joyful, exuberant and eclectic of them all, the ornaments are a sight to behold.
The Afghan tribal jewellery holds particular association with the Kuchi tribes of Afghanistan. Kuchi is a native Afghanistan tribe popularly known as ‘wanderers’. The word Kuchi itself is derived from a Persian word meaning migration, in relation to nomads or gypsies, and does not describe a particular group or people, but rather a state of being. Residing mainly on Afghanistan- Pakistan borders, their tribal jewellery is known has ‘Kuchi’, a prominent representation of their tribe.
The Kuchi jewellery reflects freedom and passion in its style. With prominent influences of various cultures combined, it is also an advocate of feminism and elegance for the women of the tribe. Be it the head, the hands or the ankles; there is virtually no part of the body that was left uncovered with some form of Kuchi Jewelry.
The jewellery of the tribe integrates elements from Middle East, Central Asia and the tribal areas of former Soviet Union. These jewelry artists use coins, bells, and large colorful glass jewels to produce lovely chokers, necklaces, cuff bracelets, pendants, belts, rings, earrings, headpieces and more completely by hand, often in centuries-old designs. These pieces sometimes incorporated beadwork or embroidery.
The process of creating Kuchi jewellery is comparatively non-complex. The initial pieces were made out of silver, merged with a few other metals like nickel, brass, tin or other base metals. The metal was melted down to make new pieces of flashing jingling finery that were worn by the women of the tribes for ceremonies and everyday purposes or decorated their animals for protection and luck. Even today, many Pashtun pendants are embellished with trinkets that are meant to ward off the evil eye!
Trade with the US and other western countries has made the original old pieces a scarcity these days. Get yours at Tjori!