Herat’s once booming Shal Bafi in recession

HERAT CITY (SW) – Shal Bafi or Sha’ar Bafi is one of the ancient professions of the people of Herat was once very important and famous with shawls, scarves, handkerchiefs, and various fine fabrics produced from thin silk threads, but now the industry is in recession.

“Unfortunately, in the previous period, in the free market driven era, our domestically produced goods were transported to China and Pakistan, and its copies were made and imported back into Afghanistan,” said Abbas Azami, a representative of Herat’s weavers. “One of the reasons for the stagnation and failure of the weaving industry in Herat was the import of copied foreign goods. Our weavers and producers cannot compete with China, and this has caused our industry to stagnate.”

Azami wants the Islamic Emirate to stop foreign imports in the country so that the local Shara Bafi’s profession can grow again.
On the other hand, Asif, a 53-year-old weaver from Herat, says that the low price of Pakistani and Chinese products has damaged the local market.

According to the Herat weavers, there used to be about 1,000 knitting machines in the province, but over time they have dwindled and are now in small numbers.
Meanwhile, Naeemul Haq Haqqani, Herat’s director of information and culture, while announcing his support for the local industry, said that they were working in every possible way to safeguard the industry.

The weavers in Herat also say that “Saha’ar” is an Arabic word meaning a thin weave of silk thread or a human hair. According to them, this profession has been practiced in this province since the Timurid-era.