Afghan Dress

“Kandahar Lady of Rank, Engaged in Smoking”. Plate 29 of 'Afghaunistan' by Lieutenant James Rattray, 1848. “Kandahar Lady of Rank, Engaged in Smoking”. Plate 29 of 'Afghaunistan' by Lieutenant James Rattray, 1848.
Published in Afghan Dress

2. Afghan peoples


The number of people living in Afghanistan is difficult to calculate, but it is assumed to be around thirty million (2017). Traditionally, they are divided into more than fifty different ethnic groups, the largest among whom are (in alphabetical order) the Baluch, Hazaras, Nuristani, Pashtuns, Tajiks, Turkmens and Uzbeks. But there are many more, and much smaller groups. Most of these entities, large and small, have their own language, culture and way of dress.

Many people, especially in the capital Kabul, tend to wear Western style garments, but overall, in the rest of the country, there is a strong tradition of wearing regional and ethnic clothing. Dress is often an important marker of ethnic identity, and people wear their ‘ethnic’ dress with pride.

The main ethnic groups in Afghanistan.The main ethnic groups in Afghanistan.