Faces of Afghanistan

They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted humankind,
irrepressibly optimistic and proud.
The Carpet Wars, Christopher Kremmer

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Baghlan, Afghanistan

Yet even at their most turbulent, the Afghans have tended to impress
travellers with 
their dignity and hospitality
as much as their fierce independence.
– William Dalrymple,  author of
Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan 1839–42

Afghanistan

Kunduz, Afghanistan

Kayan, Afghanistan

Baghlan, Afghanistan

Afghanistan

This is Abdul Hadi. He is a teacher in the woodworking school of the
Institute of Turquoise Mountain, in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he teaches jali woodwork (latticework). He was a woodworker at the court of the last king of Afghanistan, and then for some 35 years did not have a chance to practice his skills, due to the successive conflicts.

Parwan, Afghanistan

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, you don’t understand yourself solely as an individual.
You understand yourself as a son, a brother, a
cousin to somebody, 
an uncle to somebody.
You are part of something bigger than yourself.
– Khaled Hosseini

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Nuristan, Afghanistan

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Children’s Mobile Mini Circus, Kabul, Afghanistan

Pol-e-Khomri, Afghanistan

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Charikar, Afghanistan

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Nancy Dupree – 1927  – 2017

    It was a privilege to visit with Nancy Dupree last year in Kabul. I am always inspired by this indomitable woman, who has never stopped working to preserve the history of her beloved Afghanistan. Arriving in the country in the early 1960’s she worked tirelessly to document the history and cultural heritage of the country, first with her husband, Louis Dupree, and then after his death until a few days ago.
    Known as the Grandmother of Afghanistan, she established ACKU, Afghanistan Center at Kabul University, which houses tens of thousands of documents, pictures, and recordings which do not exist anywhere else.    
    I met Nancy and Louis in the early 1980’s, and they were gracious hosts to me – a relatively unknown photographer. Her contribution to Afghanistan cannot be overstated. She was an icon, and will always be remembered by all of us who know her.

Jalalabad, Afghanistan

For Afghans, Allah is the mountain above the mountains, and it is He who entertains the idea- or not- of our next hour on this earth. This, I think, is why the Afghans are reluctant to bet on tomorrow. Tomorrow is not ours to presume upon. Tomorrow is the pleasure of Allah alone.

Insha’Allah. It is this pervasive, finally overpowering feeling that I find the most difficult to convey about Afghanistan. And yet for me, it is this stubborn and unassailable conviction- this ability to endure almost anything- that defines the Afghan soul and my fascination with it. And it is this powerful feeling that draws me there again and again.

 My new book, Afghanistan, published by Taschen is now available.  tsc.hn/05326in

61 thoughts on “Faces of Afghanistan

  1. “For Afghans, Allah is the mountain above the mountains, and it is He who entertains the idea- or not- of our next hour on this earth.”

    Mind blowing, what a way to live! and this is evident in your photos over the many years that are shot in Afghanistan.

  2. I have seen your pictures for the first time at Magnum Exhibition in Seoul in South Korea.
    Thanks for your Afghanistan’s pictures. It is very amazing and leave a deep impression on me.

  3. Congratulation for your amazing work and talent! It is so important what you are doing -first of all – it is education! Maybe people will understand the tragic condition and the power to survive of those from Afghanistan…

  4. Having worked in aid programs in the refugee camps in Pakistan, then in various locations in Afghanistan for most of the last 30 years, I treasure every one of your photos Steve: yourself a legend among Afghans for such respectful, culturally sensitive photos. Your photos that so much tug my heart are the boys working in the caravanserai mechanic’s shops, one of the many subjects I worked on over the years…trying to get the master mechanics to make sure these little ‘apprentice’ guys got basic schooling, food and medical attention. It is also moving to see my dear friend Nancy Dupree, who I started working with in the 80’s in Peshawar. Here’s hoping her work will be carried on into the future as expertly as she set it up to be. Thanks for such a wonderful look at the people I admire most on the whole earth.

  5. Congratulations on your new publication! Interestingly enough, what you describe is true for other People, too. Maybe it says more of human nature than it does about Afghanistan per se, and yet, Afghanistan is a good reflection of the indomitable determination of so many, all around the globe. Thank you.

  6. The dignity and spirit you write of come shining through in your photographs. They show us both the spirit of the people you picture and some of the difficulty of their circumstances. That ability to show people as they are, wherever they are, is extremely important in the divided world we live in, placing a spotlight on our shared humanity. Thank you.

  7. Thank you Stevebhai for these excellent pictures. They are truly amazing and each one leaves you deep in thought.
    The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

  8. I recently did a “faces” post of some of the people I have managed to photograph on our trips. I loved writing it. Your pictures are amazing and pure. Wonderful work and thanks so much for sharing! Beautiful.

  9. Amazing faces of infinite variety. They truly do represent a sampling of humanity. These touched me deeply. My grandson taught in Afghanistan several years ago, but it became too dangerous and they had to close the school. Thank you.

  10. Magnificent portraits and tribute to the Afghan people. Sorry for the loss of your friend who has done such good work for her country. A moving post, Steve, thank you.

  11. Reblogged this on Shamanic Paths and commented:
    Afghanistan has long been a crossroads, through which so many peoples of the world have passed. If you can’t see the face of your family, or your friends, or your neighbours in this wonderful portrait of the Afghani people, you haven’t looked closely enough…

    “In Afghanistan, you don’t understand yourself solely as an individual. You understand yourself as a son, a brother, a cousin to somebody, an uncle to somebody. You are part of something bigger than yourself. – Khaled Hosseini.”

    Steve Mc Curry’s images should emind us, we are all cousins…

  12. I just love Steve McCurry’s photography. He does work at the Santa Fe Photography Studio wher eI take classes.

    *Jane Lucien-Scholle*

    On Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 1:28 PM, Steve McCurry’s Blog wrote:

    > Steve McCurry posted: “They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted > humankind, irrepressibly optimistic and proud. – The Carpet Wars, > Christopher Kremmer Yet even at their most turbulent, the Afghans have > tended to impress travellers with th” >

  13. On our way to Uzbekistan & will be one hour from the Afghan border in Termez & Boysun for part of the month. Memories of Kabul in the 70’s! Debra & Denny

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  14. You made me cry, but I thank you… I also love Afghanistan, where I spent quite a bit of time in the 70s. BEFORE the endless wars. I was so impressed with the people. They had this independent spirit, free and proud.

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