Bangle Seller of Balkh

Pix 1Afghanistan is not only important because of its geopolitical location which connects east, west, south and central Asian countries.  But it is also a crossroad of different cultures and civilizations. You can see a sign of different cultures among people living in different cities and provinces, each one constituting a unique subculture identity coming from Indian subcontinents, Persian plateau and Central Asian nations. In Western regions, people have several commonalities with Khorasan and Sistan Baluchistan region of Iran. South and Southeast provinces have several cultural commonalities with people living in the North-Western part of Pakistan and north India. Residents of central, north and north-eastern provinces have several commonalities with different central Asian nations. Cultural diversity is not limited to provinces, even within large cities such as Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat and Ghazni, different communities are living together with their unique cultural characteristics.

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Wearing bangles is very common among Afghan women. There are people called the “Jat community” who make a living by selling bangles in large cities of Afghanistan. In Balkh, Jats do not have any particular market, shops or locations for their business. They are group peddlers who normally chose crowded places to sell their bangles. Bangles are only for women, perhaps it is the reason that selling bangle is a women’s business, as one sees rarely men among the sellers. Bangles are found in different colors and designs, often made of plastics, glass or other materials.

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Wholesaling companies import bangles from south Asian countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, then sell it to Jats, who in turn retail them to final customers. Balkh’s bangle sellers are the best skilled sellers, as they clearly know how to target and attract their customers. Selling bangles is among few businesses that wholly operated by women. This is an old tradition. Yet, though new fashions and likings their income has dramatically decreased, but still there are lots of people who buy and wear bangles in their festivals, ceremonies and events.

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