Vintage Textile Stamp or Block from Afghanistan
Textile stamps or blocks have been used for centuries in many forms around the world. The simplest form, which many of us may have played with as kids, is a carved potato that can then be stamped on paper or fabric with acrylic paint. The ones I sell on Etsy are from Afghanistan, rejects from workshops there that no longer have a use for them. Most have nicks or imperfections that make them unusable there. Artists here extend that life, liking the distressed look that these imperfections lend to the design. Clay artists, especially, can always clean up the design with their tools when the clay is still in its leather working stage.
Afghani textile stamps are made from hand carved pear wood.
The stamps are my best selling item on Etsy. I buy them from a friend who imports from Afghanistan, sight unseen, and normally offer them here and on my website at 10% off before I start listing them. This time, several factors led me to increase the offer to 20% off:
- The stamps in this batch are more worn than usual.
- Many of them have wax and dye residue that will demand extra cleaning.
- I have a new camera and the photos I took are crappy.
- Most artists prefer the smaller stamps and this batch was mostly large sizes.
Example of a textile stamp with wax and indigo dye build up. The stamp can be cleaned out by using soapy water and a stiff brush. Little nicks can be repaired with wood filler.
I went over all the stamps with a stiff wire brush, but just don't have time to do a detailed clean-up. I can give a 25% discount on purchases over $200. I'd rather move these and use the money to buy another bag, hopefully in better shape!
My belief is that all of these crafts will become harder and harder to find in the future. As countries industrialize, these hand made processes quickly disappear. Afghanistan will take many years to move in that direction as its infrastructure has been almost completely destroyed by years of war and drought. But, social instability also disrupts traditional craft production. When purchasing these beautiful tools, we all become connected to centuries of craft traditions, handed down from mother to daughter, father to son. When I look at these nicks and cracks, I see a life well lived and it brings me comfort.
Afghan textile stamps normally depict Persian or Islamic designs, like this one, or floral motifs. Animals and people are very rare as they are not allowed in Islamic art.
Interested? Here is how it works: Go to my website where you will find all the images posted. Each stamp is numbered and priced. Email me with the ones you are interested in and I will get back to you with the total. It can get a little crazy as there is no shopping cart there. It try to keep images updated but sometimes I have to wait while a customer makes up their mind. First come, first serve.