These are four of my favorite scenes from Afghanistan.
I, actually, abhor the Burqa. Even so, this is a compelling and somewhat haunting photo. I’d love to have been the person who originally took this photo. What is the story of this womans life. What are her dreams. What came of her after this photo was taken. Is she still alive. Did she make it out of Afghanistan. Did she live through the Soviets, the Taliban, the Warlords and to the invasion of the Americans after the World Trade Center travesty. I’ve taken hundreds of photos of women hidden behind the ubiquitous blue burqa of Afghanistan. I find it abhorrent that these women are forced to wear this horrid mass of natty cloth. Afghan men believe that it is a stain on their honor for other men to see the face of their wife. And it is a mortal crime for a woman to be seen looking at another man. In this quirky, Islamic land, women are far from free. Women who talk to foreign men are accused of prostitution, whoredom and anything else that an Afghani man can conjure in his weak mind. It’s really quite disgusting.
There are some free thinking persons here. I’ve met some awesome young people here who want to change their country but who are fearful and feel powerless to bring about real change. It is difficult to find fault in their fear. Afghanistan is a dangerous and violent land. Vengeance is a reality of life here. Insurgents. Bandits. Taliban. Opium gangs and druglords abound. Mullahs are the real force of governance in the districts. Each District has a Governor appointed in Kabul who may or may not be more powerful than the local Talib “shadow” Governor or Mullah. Afghanistan is a land out of time. I sometimes feel as though I am in a tale out of the Pirates of the Caribbean genre.
This post card is a group of Afghani tribesmen playing Bozkashi–the traditional game of Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s National past time. The taliban outlawed this game during their reign of terror. This exhausting game is played from horseback. The first horse rider to pick up the dead goat and carry it to the goal line and pitch it across wins. The game has been known to last for more than a week at a time. The champions of this game are famous throughout Afghanistan in much the same manner as Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are in the US. It’s a gruesome game that takes much endurance and strength to play. Contestants are regularly killed in the midst of competition.
The picture above is the main entrance to the Grand Mosque or Friday Mosque (Masjid-i Jami) in Herat. This magnificent and ancient structure was built in 1200 AD. It has stood witness to the wrath of Jinghis Khan as well as the regions other great conqueror–Timur the Lame. It stood in silent witness to the savagery of the Taliban. It stands today as an inspirational testament to the longevity of a city that has survived since the time of Alexander the Great. I’ve been to the great Mosque once. Though I was not able to enter or get close enough for a long enough time to snap my own photo. Hopefully, I will get my chance before I take my permanent leave of Herat. It truly is a beautiful Mosque.
Above is the Minaret of Jam. This structure is of uncertain origin. Though, it is thought to be of Ghorid origin. On it’s outer wall is inscribed the Qur’anic Surat which relates the Islamic version of the story of Mary mother of Jesus. Jesus is recognized as a prophet by Islam. Although, Muhammad is THE prophet. The last prophet of Allah. The minaret is 65 meters tall and sits between the Hari Rud and Jam rivers. It was built sometime between 1174 and 1195 AD.
These are four of my favorite pictures from Afghanistan. I have thousands of photos that I’ve taken of Afghanistan and it’s various vistas and Afghani life and culture and hundreds more that I have been given by friends and acquaintances over the years. I’ll post the some of the best of those as well. I hope you enjoy these.