View Full Version : Weaving at Prisons in Afghanistan/Pakistan

Paul McGhee
June 13th, 2015, 08:01 AM
I spotted this picture from the Illustrated London News of May 17th 1879 showing a man weaving a long runner outside a fort at Jalalabad. Unfortunately I don't have the accompanying text. Since this was drawn at the height of the second Afghan war I wondered if it shows a prisoner put to work to weave carpets as part of his incarceration and whether the two guys in the background are jailors or fellow prisoners.


I understand that the practice of getting prisoners to weave is still current in some jails in the region and it would be interesting to know if "jail-produced" carpets have particular qualities as a result of the materials and manpower available.

I have a Turkoman-style carpet bought in "British India" (i.e. Pakistan) before Partition which has an elaborate design with a high knot count but is made of very inferior wool. I read somewhere that they were sometimes made from the recycled wool of old British soldiers' socks.

I thought this might be just the kind of esoteric subject which y'all would know about :-)

Marla Mallett
June 19th, 2015, 04:30 PM

I canít answer your specific questions above, but I can say this: The drawing does NOT show a pile carpet being woven. With the four-harness loom structure shown, and several pattern shed sticks inserted in the warp, we can assume that some variety of brocaded fabric was being produced.