Before I ever came to Afghanistan, I knew I wanted to bring home a rug with me. Rugs are Afghanistan’s largest export and can last for generations if properly cared for. I was excited to have a beautiful, tangible souvenir of my experience and time here so I wanted to be sure I made the best choice.
I didn’t know much about rugs, so I did some research online. I learned about knots and how to tell a handmade rug from an industrial woven one, and even some of the basic typical patterns. I learned even more by visiting the shops and touching and seeing the differences in quality between rugs.
Originally I was going to buy one…and then I saw a runner that I liked and then I also thought a larger one would be perfect in another room. Ultimately I ended up visiting six different vendors before settling on three beautiful carpets, all handmade here in Afghanistan. It was such a neat experience to have them roll it out in front of you and then rubbing the wool and checking the knots in the back and the fringe. I also worked hard to barter the prices down which is also a hallmark of buying out here. The vendor definitely made a good profit on my sales, but I also love that I will have these for years as a reminder of the beauty of Afghanistan and that I’m helping to support the people here.