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Afghanistan is a multi-cultural and multi-lingual society with a long history and age-old traditions. The different regions of the country have their own mixture of ethnicities, languages and traditions.

The culture of Afghanistan reflects its ancient roots and its geo-political nature as a crossroads for invading armies and a thoroughfare for traders. Afghans still imbibe international influences, although today they are mostly delivered by tv, radio and film, rather than by a caravan of camels. Returning refugees have also brought with them international influences in music, literature and other art forms. Afghanistan has a flourishing music scene, and although it is still dominated by men, young women are braving the established norms. One of these is the rapper Raktika, here on the theme of being a girl in Afghanistan.  

Although Indian soap operas are still popular, Afghan TV channels increasingly show locally produced series, ranging from thrilling police action to a reality show starring a travelling doctor in the countryside. Few series have rivalled the popularity of Afghan Star, a reality show based on a popular international concept, where contestants compete to be elected the best singer. The documentary about the uniquely popular series features a unique and captivating insight into Afghan society today and can be found on Youtube.

Although most urban Afghans have access to TV, it is rarer in the countryside. There, radio is still a popular way to get an update on news and music. Traditionally, Afghan music mixes flavours from the Indian subcontinent to Iran, with each ethnic tribe having their own melodies and music style. Sometimes compared with Elvis Presley, Ahmad Zahir (1946 – 1979) is an icon in Afghan culture. Singing mostly in Dari, he composed and performed everything from pop and rock to classic popular Afghan music.

Afghan handicrafts are attractive; even common grain bags to carry produce to market are often embroidered to make them more beautiful. A camel caravan of nomads often looks like a parade, with the animals decked out in woven finery. The Islamic traditions of fine calligraphy and graphic arts are evoked in the fine filigreed flourishes that decorate many buildings. And Afghan hand-woven carpets are popular, particularly the deep red woollen carpets in the tradition of Mazar-e Sharif.

Afghan poets are well known and revered. Jalaluddin Rumi was a 13th-century poet who was born in Balkh province but is renowned around the world. Rumi’s poems have been translated from the original Persian language to numerous other languages. In Pashto literature, Khushal Khan Khattak (1613–1689 A.C.) is one of the big names. He was a prominent Pashtun warrior, tribal chief and poet. He wrote poetry in the Pashto, Dari and Urdu languages and promoted Pashtun nationalism through his writings.

Norwegian Afghanistan Committee
Addresse:  Nawai Watt, Street # 03 •  Postal addresse:
work # 148 Shahr-i-Naw, KabulAfghanistan

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