You will be offered grean tea while you are choosing carpets. Unlike in other Moslem countries, most shops do not offer sweets that go well with tea. Be patient. Remember that the carpetsellers are seasoned merchandisers and have sold hundreds of carpets before your visit. Earn their respect by admiring the quality and design of the carpets you like. It would be good if you know exactly what you are looking for. If not, take your time and ask them to show you carpets from Mazar-i Sharif or from Herat, the two provinces famous for weaving carpets. Try to bargain at least half the price offered to you. The more you buy, the lower the price should be. You will know the price ranges as you acquire more carpets. The perfect the weaving is and the closer the knot is, the more expensive it is.
You have to bargain calmly. Afghan people are calm. If you are not happy with the price, just say thank you and leave.
What to buy:
War rugs are an interesting development in rugs since the Soviet invasion of 1979. These are rugs that have woven images of war on to them. The original ones depict scenes of the Mujahideen but the ones today show more modern themes and even the World Trade Centres on September 11th. There are also scenes of tanks, guns, bombs and other weapons of war. I find these to be an interesting way of showing history in an Afghan view and I have started to collect them.
What to pay: The one in the picture is a little smaller than 2' by 3' and cost $30 US. I have read that some can fetch up to 1000 British Pounds.
What to buy: Although you can find lapis lazuli in many other regions of the world (Canada, USA, Russia, Angola, Burma and some more) the finest lapis lazuli comes from Afghanistan. This rock has been highly prized as a gem and known for about 5000 years. One place it is quite popular to see is from recovered treasures of pharaohs tombs. It is even mention in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. All the lapis lazuli stones I saw were already polished and I paid US $15 for the one in the picture. It is probaly 4 inches high and almost hour glass shaped.
The big red Afghan rug in my parents' house meant that i had always associated Afghanistan with carpets. So, when the time came to pack my bags and head there on my first of two trips, i decided that i`m going to get one of my own.
What to buy: Different regions of the country have their own unique designs. Almost always, they are deep red and with some incredible geometric patterns/ designs on them, and usually handmade using vegetable dyes...
What to pay: Afghan rugs are well known and sought after. In New York, i believe they will cost no less than $50/ sqr foot.... I got a 6*4 foot rug for $170, and two more, that were slightly smaller...
There are a lot of cool shops selling tons of little trinkets and interesting items.
What to buy: Rugs, keep an eye out for the handmade ones. Ask the shop keeper to show a machine made carpet and a handmade one.
Look closely for differences, especially on the back and how the threads are aligned. If the two carpets look the same, its a good chance he's trying to screw you. Go someplace else.
There are some authentic muskets but mostly there are replicas, so do your research before you purchase one.
There are some very unique cultural items, its best to keep a mental note of shops and look around a lot before buying.
What to pay: Remember, argue about the price untill you face turns blue, then walk away and come back later.
Trust me, no matter how low you talk them down, they are still making a profit (dispite what they tell you).
Big choice of carpets, antiques and handicraft.
What to buy: The last guidebook on Afghanistan " Afghanistan, an historical guide" by Nancy Hatch Dupree, published in the 70's is still available here.
What to pay: Prepare to bargain
There are two interesting streets in Kabul for your shopping. One is called Chicken Street, and the other Flower Street. You can find almost everything you need in Afghanistan, such as the various gems, jewelry, carpets, animal hair, hand-crafts and even the heads of Buddha. As for the price, you can freely reduce the price proposed by the shopkeepers by 50%. One more thing, I will not suggest you buying souvenirs from local bazaars for the sake of saving your dollars.
What to buy: The most popular: gems, jewelry, carpets, animal hair, hand-crafts.
After almost 4 years in Afghanistan, for a change, I thought of spending some nights in the most...more
Good for: Solo
I stayed in Park Palace Guest House in Oct 2010. There is no proper shop near the guest house. The...more