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Afghanistan: Ancient Culture and Beautiful Heritage, Part 2 of 3



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The first traces of human life in Afghanistan were found around 52,000 years ago. The earliest Afghan metal handicrafts can be traced back to the Bronze Age (3,300 to 1,200 BC). Also, over 20,600 gold items, such as coins, necklaces and other jewelry were found in burial mounds in Sheberghan, Jowzjan Province.

Another significant form of art in Afghanistan is Gandharan art, a Buddhist art style developed during the 1st and 7th centuries AD. The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two monumental statues of Vairocana Buddha and Gautama Buddha that had been carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamiyan valley of central Afghanistan during the Hephthalites' time. Unfortunately, both statues were destroyed in 2001, leaving huge vacant spaces. In 2003, the Bamiyan Valley was included on UNESCO's World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Later, the art in Afghanistan was deeply influenced by Persian and Islamic culture. Grand mosques were built in the country featuring elaborate tiling styles. Many of these styles and techniques were influenced by Uzbek and Chinese ceramics. Afghanistan is the only place that can produce pottery artwork in this turquoise color.

Embroidery and fabric handicrafts are traditional arts practiced throughout the history of Afghanistan and are typically done by women and girls. Each of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups has its own specific style of traditional embroidery. The unique embroidery called Khamak is a trademark of the southern city of Kandahar, and is considered by art experts to be one of the world’s finest embroidery forms.

Afghanistan’s traditional clothing is quite conservative. For women, an ankle-length dress is worn with loose-fitting trousers called a tunbaan. A headscarf known as a chador is then worn to cover their hair. The men wear a similar basic outfit consisting of trousers and a loose-fitting shirt with a turban that differs according to where he is from. This clothing style dates back to the early medieval period and the time when Islamic culture was adopted. In 2006 the first Afghan fashion show was held in Kabul, thus opening a new era of traditional fashion in Afghanistan.

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