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
Ariana Afghan Airlines flight attendants
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 kind of 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.” Other prominent fashion photographers, such as Fred Maroon, would also go on to capture striking images in Afghanistan.
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.