Afghanistan’s true culture on display at Vienna exhibition
By Marina Sera
Vienna, Jan 5 (EFE).- Bright-colored dresses, jewelry and string instruments: staples of Afghanistan’s culture that stand in opposition to the Taliban’s black clothing, oppressive regulations and religious extremism.
A group of Afghan refugees is defending their cultural reality in an exhibition they curated at the World Museum in Vienna using objects that reflect the diversity and traditional tolerance against the rules imposed by the Taliban.
The exhibition, Aus Afghanistan (German for From Afghanistan) running until May 31, shows visitors how Afghans’ daily life is way different from that of the fundamentalist Islamist group that seized power of the country in August.
The colorful traditional dress and silver jewelry prove that the Afghan cultural tradition is not related to the strict dress code the Taliban government has imposed on women.
Christian Schicklgruber, director of the museum, says that photos showing women in Afghanistan wearing burqas (full face-veils) do not present an honest reflection of the society there, where colorful dresses play a big role.
At the exhibitions, visitors can see many items, from the bright red and purple clothing of the Pashtun people and the ceramics made by the Jamshidi tribe to the prayer rugs embroidered by the Hazaras.
Afghans living in Vienna have loaned many objects on display at the museum such as wedding dresses and teapots.
The Taliban have imposed strict Islamic law that restricts games, music, and photography and bans most women from returning to work.
The clothing and exhibits help give voice to the culture of the Afghan minorities, who have been persecuted and threatened for years by the war and terrorist groups.
Hadi Mohammadi, an Afghan refugee in Vienna and a member of the Hazara community, tells Efe that “ethnic minorities are not safe” with the Taliban in power.
“In a country like Afghanistan, life is not easy, it is a challenge every day, even if you are rich or in a good position,” Mohammadi says.
Mohammadi’s parents sent him to Europe at the age of 14 via a smuggler. In 2007, he came to Vienna and started working as a librarian.
“At that time I did not understand why my parents sent me away, but in 2014 my brother was killed in a bomb attack in Pakistan and this made me understand the decision,” he adds.
Mohammadi still looks back fondly on his past, as shown by the paper kite he created for the exhibition.
This current situation makes Mohammadi perceive the kite as a symbol of freedom for Afghanistan.EFE