Lost in Time: Groovy Afghanistan


10th Jun, 2013

A cautionary tale of a vibrant and thriving culture lost in time, these photographs collected on a community Facebook page in Afghanistan are likely to leave you in disbelief. The country we’re so often shown today is comparable to a broken medieval society, but not so long ago, the barren landscape was dotted with stylish buildings, women wore pencil skirts and teenagers shopped at record stores.

As you browse the photos that capture progress, hope and that rock’n’roll spirit in the air, keep in mind the implications of what happened to this culture in just a few decades.

Above: Afghan women in the 1940s

Typical Kabuli Fashion in the 60’s- 70’s

Mohammad Qayoumi grew up in Kabul during the 60s and 70s and many of his photographs are featured on the Facebook page’s collection. This is the Afghanistan he remembers:

A half-century ago, Afghan women pursued careers in medicine; men and women mingled casually at movie theaters and university campuses in Kabul; factories in the suburbs churned out textiles and other goods. There was a tradition of law and order, and a government capable of undertaking large national infrastructure projects, like building hydropower stations and roads, albeit with outside help. Ordinary people had a sense of hope, a belief that education could open opportunities for all, a conviction that a bright future lay ahead. All that has been destroyed by three decades of war, but it was real.

This was Afghanistan…

A record store in Kabul, 1960s

Afghan performers

Ariana Afghan Airlines flight attendants

Kabul, 1960s

Kandahar Airport built in the 1960s

Foreign visitors camping in Band-e Amir 1970’s

Road tripping in Afghanistan!

Mothers and children at a city playground.

Kabul University Students at graduation 1960s

A class/meeting for women – around 1980

Classroom in Kabul, 1960s

“Biology class, Kabul University.”– In the 1950s and ’60s, women were able to pursue professional careers in fields such as medicine. Today, schools that educate women are a target for violence, even more so than five or six years ago.

Fashion designer Safia Tarzi in her Kabul studio, 1969

Textile store window display

Afghan ladies at Kabul Airport

When Afghanistan was in Vogue, December 1969..

In 1969, this was the Afghanistan that greeted the American Vogue team, when they arrived at Kabul’s International airport. There to do a fashion shoot in Kabul showcasing Afghan fashion and the local sites, the result appeared in the December 1969 issue titled “Afghan Adventure”.

Models were photographed against a backdrop of ancient ruins and thriving bazaars.

Afghan School girls

Women’s Rally 1980

Photographers featured: Mohammad Qayoumi and Farid Dastan. View more of Mohammad Qayoumi’s photostory, Once Upon a Time in Afghanitan.




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