Ghazni Wool

The soft wool and carpet-weaving traditions of an ancient capital

Soft Ghazni wool (2018) by Turquoise MountainTurquoise Mountain

A Blank Canvas

Though once famous for being the capital of an empire, the Afghan province of Ghazni is now better known for the wool its sheep produce. Perfect for carpets, this wool is the purest possible shade of white, a blank, soft and oily canvas for natural dyes. The rich green pastures of Ghazni give the sheep’s wool its oiliness; without the grass it would be dry and hard to the touch.

Dyed wool (2014)Turquoise Mountain

Wool sorting (2015) by Turquoise MountainTurquoise Mountain

Spinning and Dyeing

Once spun, the wool is twisted as tightly as possible. It is then dipped in dye, its tautness preventing the dye from seeping all the way through. The effect produced by this process, with the colour increasing in intensity towards the edge, is striking. Rather than being seen as an imperfection, the lack of colour uniformity, an effect known as 'abraj', is seen as adding to the beauty of the finished product.

Black and White wool (2018) by Turquoise MountainTurquoise Mountain

The Importance of Quality

Given that 40% of the carpet making process is dependent upon wool, its quality is very important. The softer the wool, the easier it is to weave and knot. The weavers, who are almost always women, enjoy working with soft Ghazni wool, which slides easily through their fingers.

Details of a carpet by Turquoise MountainTurquoise Mountain

Leaving their Mark

Each tribe in Afghanistan has its own technique of weaving, colouring and making patterns. An expert can discern, simply from feeling the knots of a hand-woven carpet, whether the weavers were Hazara, Turkmen, Tajiks, or one of the country's many other ethnicities.

Weaving (2017) by Turquoise MountainTurquoise Mountain

Carpet Making in Afghanistan (2016) by Turquoise MountainTurquoise Mountain

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