Afghan Craftsmen: The Cultures of Three Itinerant Communities


A significant but little studied aspect of life in rural Afghanistan is the restriction of certain specialized occupations to particular ethnic groups. Many communities of artisans, tradesmen and entertainers form their own descent groups, either settled or leading nomadic or semi-nomadic lives.
Afghan Craftsmen describes the lives and work of the migrating Musalli threshers, Shaykh Mohammadi peddlers and Ghorbat sievemakers, detailing their social and historical background as well as their interaction with settled communities.

Author: Asta Olesen, Ida Nicolaisen
ISBN: 9780500016121
Binding: Hardback, 328 Pages
Published Year:


While the Musallis and the Ghorbat are specialist workers who share common descent, of Indian and probable Iranian origin respectively, the Shaykh Mohammadis have emerged as a spiritual body in Afghanistan, which over time has absorbed a number of unrelated occupational groups. All three share a low social position, economic marginality and a roving lifestyle. Their flourishing traditions of myths and legends reflect general West Asian religious folklore, and the inspiration of the Sufi mystics in traditional craft guild organization – a phenomenon so far little explored in Afghanistan. The volume concludes with a discussion of the social structure and characteristics of peripatetic nomadism.

Additional information

Weight 2 kg
Dimensions 29 × 23.6 × 2.8 cm


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