Pashtun embroidery

Pashtun embroidery is very beautiful . Embroidery is used by Pashtuns to decorate a wide range of objects. It is used for household objects such as table cloths, mats, towels, curtains, bags, prayer cloths, as well as decorative blankets for horses and camels.

I found the following article about Pashtun embroidery here:

"There are various groups of Pashtun, each with their own style of embroidery. There is also a difference between Pashtun urban embroidery and Pashtun nomadic embroidery.

The Pashtun living in the Wardak region, for example, are noted for multi-coloured silk embroideries on a monochrome cotton or silk ground. The embroideries are worked in satin stitch in complex geometric designs that radiate out from a central motif, such as a star.

Mangal Pashtun, from eastern Afghanistan, often use satin stitch to create lozenges that cover the whole embroidered surface. The difference is in the accent, worked in holbein and back stitches in black and white, so contrasting with the colour of the rest of the embroidery. The designs do not follow the grain, but instead form diagonal lines that accentuate the lozenge designs.

Waistcoats for Pashtun men are often decorated with gold or silver coloured braids, which are sewn in intricate, geometric designs onto the ground material, such as red velvet. This type of embroidery is also used for women's dresses."

The item above is described as a Pashtun purse, Maydan, 1950

Described as Pashtun Mangal, Paktya, 1930.

Purse-Swat, Pakistan

Wardak embroidery on traditional dress

Afghanistan - chain stitch

Paktia, Afghanistan

Afghanistan - chain stitch (detail)

Paktia, Afghanistan

Koochie Embroidery

Gardez, Afghanistan

Silver thread and mirror embroidery

Ghazni, Afghanistan

Koochie embroidered wallet

Very tight chain stitch on Bukara silk.

Pashtun embroidered waistcoat

Koochie dress-detail


Embroidered cap and tassels

Embroidered cap from Kandahar. Tassels nomadic.

Pashtun Vest
Ghazni area, Katawaz. Afghanistan.

Pashtun Cushion Cover

Silk embroidery on cotton

Pashtun Shawl
Swat Valley, Pakistan

Silk satin-stitch embroidery on cotton.

Pashtun Cushion Cover

Swat Valley, Pakistan

Silk embroidery on cotton

Pashtun Child's Vest
Ghazni area, Afghanistan

Fine silk cross-stitch embroidery on cotton, with silver couching, applied gold braid, and beaded edging. 
Khamak Embroidery    a Kandahar Tradition

Khamak, an intricate form of embroidery, is worked in silk thread and is a trademark of Kandahar. Girls learn this ancient art form at an early age and continue to do it throughout their lives. Inspired by complex Islamic geometric patterns, Khamak is unique to Kandahar and is considered by art experts to be one of the world’s finest embroidery techniques. It is traditionally used to decorate the striking, floor-length shawls worn by Southern Afghan men, as well as table linen, women’s head-coverings, and girls’ wedding  trousseaus.

The practice of Khamak involves counting the threads of the fabric weave (hence cotton and linen are the best raw materials for this embroidery) in order to stitch geometric shapes with silk-thread. The work is done in a sitting position with the embroidery positioned on the top of a bended knee.

Works of Honor and Love

Traditional Khamak includes natural themes, such as flowers, leaves and trees, in addition to the geometric shapes of Islamic art. The women of Kandahar Treasure themselves creatively combine natural and geometric shapes to create patterns much like their ancestors did. But they are also continuously creating new designs, many of which will be showcased for the first time to the public on their most beloved man (a brother, husband, or son). In Southern Afghanistan, women rely on their men to be the exhibitors of their fine art, and men have naturally learned to “show-off” publicly with the best embroidered work on their attire.

Stitching Hopes and Dreams

The practice of Khamak embroidery provides spiritual escape from the mundane, meaningless, day-to-day life of Afghan women. Through the refinement of her stitches, the Kandahar woman expresses her innermost desire for aesthetic beauty. Hajira describes this in her own words when she writes “When I would get into an argument with my husband, and he would leave the house to calm his anger, I had the four walls of my house around me to calm myself down. My anger and frustration would feel like a mountain on my shoulders…Doing Khamak gave me the peace that I needed. Through creating beautiful designs I would divert my mind to calm myself down, and the end result of finishing a beautiful work of art would give me the satisfaction that I needed.” Afghan women stitch their hopes, dreams and desires into embroidery as quietly as they live in Kandahar.

Traditional Khamaki Embroidered Shawl

Decorative Pillows

Embroidered chiffon scarves

An Afghan woman works on a form of embroidery called Khamak at Kandahar Treasure facilities in Kandahar city, June 14, 2009. Kandahar Treasure, a non-profit project of the Afghans for Civil Society which started out in 2003, employs women artisans from the Kandahar area in order to develop more economic opportunities.


  1. Sherry TiceMarch 12, 2014

    Absolutely beautiful! I could weep.

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    Womens Embroidered Dresses in Pakistan

  3. Curious why many of these embroideries are taken from my site?

  4. Also many of these are Turkomen and Hazara (from Afghanistan). Not Pushtun.

  5. can anyone tell me the specific name for swat's traditional dress?

  6. Your blog is very much good. I am very much impressed by your blog content; I also come across number of sites, Lawn Embroidery you can also check these are also very much useful for everyone.