Rob Leahy, owner of Fine Rugs of Charleston, today announced the Afghanistan Rug Exposition and Sale which will be held at the Hyatt Place Hotel, Charleston Airport and Convention Center, (3234 West Montague Ave, North Charleston, SC 29418).  The event will be held in the hotel’s ballroom from Wednesday, June 24th through Saturday, June 27th.  The hours for the four day event will be 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. More information will soon be available at: www.afghanrugexpo.com    

On display will be hundreds of handmade wool rugs woven Afghanistan.  The rugs will showcase the pride and skill that the Afghan people have in their national craft.  In Afghanistan, rugs are made by families.  Older men and boys herd the sheep, younger men shear the animals, then wash and sort the fleece. Older women hand spin the wool and men make the skeins to dye the wool.  Weaving, which is over 50% of a rug’s value in Afghanistan, is done almost exclusively by women.  Men will cut the rug from the loom to wash and finish the family’s valuable creation.  Mainly, Afghan rugs are made in the villages and provide rural families with the extra income needed to sustain themselves.

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Shepherd in Marmal.  Rug making in Afghanistan depends on the health of the herds of Afghan sheep. (Left)

Sorting wool in Ghazni.  After the sheep are sheared the fleece is washed and sorted before dyeing.(Right)

The Afghan Rug Expo and Sale will support these families by giving them an opportunity to sell their rugs.  Rob says, “In every trip that I ever made to Afghanistan, and I have been going since 2007, the people have asked me to help them sell their rugs”.   He continued, “Afghan families have truly struggled to market their rugs in the chaos of their war-torn country.  Yet, they continue to produce beautiful rugs in their homes.”

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Weaving in Kunduz.  Ersari Turkmen women weave on horizontal looms that can be easily transported.( Left)

Weaving in Bamyan.  Haraza tribe women weaving a rug for Arzu.  This tribe uses a vertical loom. ( Right) 

Rob Leahy has been a longtime advisor to the US Government on the subject of rebuilding the rug making business in Afghanistan.  He has travelled widely in the country and is recognized as an expert on Afghan rugs.  Whenever in Afghanistan, Rob conducts seminars for the military and others stationed in the country.  You can read some of his advice:  http://www.charlestonrugsblog.com/category/soldier-stories/

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Washing in Mazar-e Sharif.  Rug washing that is done in Afghanistan is simple soap and water. (Left) 

Drying rugs in Dalutabad.  After washing these Turkman rugs drying in the bright sun of Afghanistan.  ( Right) 

During the Afghanistan Rug Expo and Sale Rob will speak at 10:30 each morning. “I really enjoy telling people about the unique beauty and lasting utility of Afghan rugs”, he says.  His talk will explain the unique beauty of Afghan rugs and he will show a video of how rugs are made in the villages of Afghanistan.  He will also identify and value any Afghans rugs that service members have brought back with them from Afghanistan.  In the pre-expo advertising individuals are invited to bring any rugs that they, or family members, have brought back from Afghanistan.

In addition to helping Afghan families sell their rugs, the Afghan Rug Expo and Sale is contributing a portion of its proceeds to a cause that assists wounded servicemen.

Afghanistan is a major producer of beautiful hand knotted rugs and, in turn, making it the largest legal segment of the country’s economy.  Directly employing 1 million people making the rugs and an estimated 4 million more in allied trades such as essential supplies, trucking and financing.  This business touches the lives of 17% of Afghanistan’s population of 30 million.

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Buying in Mazar-e Sharif.  Rob Leahy (center) with two Afghan rug traders discussing business.(Left)

Village elders in Dehadi.  Rob Leahy, (2nd from left) and US Gov’t officials meet about building a plant. (Right) 

Fine Rugs of Charleston is located at 1523 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29405 and was founded by Rob Leahy in 2003.  Fine Rugs sells designer rugs and patterned broadloom carpets from all over the world.  Rob has been in the rug business since 1971 and has traveled widely to the countries where our rugs are made. The company’s mission is to educate clients and allow them to make the correct selection for their color, pattern and durability needs.  The company’s informative website is:  http://www.finerugsofcharleston.com/