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Popularity of machine-made carpets creates a snag in Afghan carpet business

Afghan shopkeeper Ismail Temorzada, 45, center, displays a carpet to customers in his shop on Chicken Street in Kabul, March 3.
Afghan shopkeeper Ismail Temorzada, 45, center, displays a carpet to customers in his shop on Chicken Street in Kabul, March 3.Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images

For decades Ismail Temorzada's handmade Afghan carpets decorated people's homes around the world, but export problems and competition from Iran's machine-made products have left his business threadbare. "My carpet sales are down, no one is buying hand-made carpets anymore," says Temorzada, who has run a shop for more than 20 years in Kabul's once crowded and colorful Chicken Street bazaar. "Iranian machine made carpets are imported to Afghanistan at a cheaper price," he told AFP, dismissing them as lacking originality, durability and charm. But they are cheap and people buy them, which has contributed to a 70 percent drop in his sales over the past year, he says. Carpets are Afghanistan's best known export, woven mostly by women in the north of the country. Displaying his best carpets, from Andkhoy in northern Faryab province, Temorzada said they cost 60,000 Afghanis -- about $1,300 -- but nobody is buying them.

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