What is Barak?
Barak is woven from local wool and boiled to make a fabric that is both wind and water- resistant. Depending on the thickness of the weave, the fabric is either dense and heavy to be made into outerwear for the harsh winters in Afghanistan, or is lighter weight and suitable for other kinds of clothing such as scarves and tailored fashions. To see how barak is traditionally woven click here
Who are the women weavers of Bamiyan?
The weavers live in and around Bamiyan city (where the large statues of Buddha were until they were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001). Many of the weavers live in caves in the cliffs above the valley. They have little money and do weaving and sewing to supplement their families’ income.
This is Zahra's daughter Najma showing what is available in Zahra's store.
*Audio responses kindly narrated by Fatima Saidi
These women are assisted by Mary MacMakin, an American weaver who has lived in Afghanistan for several decades. (She was recently granted honorary Afghan citizenship by President Ashraf Ghani.)
For several years Mary has worked with Zahra Kazemi, a local entrepreneur, to teach sewing and handicraft skills to these women. Zahra has taken business courses in Kabul.
Zahra sells their products on consignment in a small shop located in Bamiyan. Her plans are to work with the weavers to market their products in the capital Kabul, and in the countries surrounding Afghanistan. Her partners in the United States will be investigating selling the barak fabric and products made from that fabric in the West.