Afghan Craftsmen: The Cultures of Three Itinerant Communities (Carlsberg Foundation's Nomad Research Project)

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9780500016121: Afghan Craftsmen: The Cultures of Three Itinerant Communities (Carlsberg Foundation's Nomad Research Project)
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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. 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.

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Danes, the world's most complacently middle-class people, are fascinated by the exoticism of the nomadic way of life. Fueled by the riches of their great brewing empire, the Carlsberg Foundation's Nomad Research Project has produced this opulent volume examining three marginal groups of traveling workers in the years just prior to the Afghan civil war beginning in 1978. The economically oriented analysis of the peddlers, threshers, and sievemakers is interspersed with 240 high-quality illustrations and is written with uncommon clarity. Regrettably, the narrow scope limits the book's audience to scholars of Afghanistan and anthropologists interested in nonpastoral nomadism.
David McClelland, Temple Univ. Lib., Philadelphia
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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