Some Gorgeous Photos from Afghanistan

Light and Water
Light and Water, Herat, 1974

Some of the best rugs we see these days are being woven in the small towns and villages of Afghanistan, a country that has seen war for half a century. We might ask ourselves: who are these people that not only find the courage to endure, but are capable of producing such profound works of artistic beauty?

Many people forget that the Afghans are a people of poetry and art — a people of tolerance and ingenuity whose unique traditions date back over a thousand years. While doing some research for a customer on the Hazara tribal weavers of the Bamyan region, I came across some photos that seemed to capture the beauty of the Afghan people in a way I had not thought possible.

The Lone Rider
The Lone Rider, 1975

In 1971, a painter by the name of Luke Powell visited Afghanistan for the first time and found himself in awe of the visual imagery around him. However, his attempts to sketch what he saw attracted so much attention that he found it hard to work, so he started experimenting with a camera. Luckily for the world of photography, Luke found he had a wonderful talent behind the lens.

The photographs Luke took in Afghanistan throughout the 70s, particularly those known as “The Afghan Folio”, rank as some of the most captivating travel photographs ever taken. The Afghan Folio was was exhibited in the Smithsonian, the United Nations European Headquarters, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Manesh Exhibition Hall in Moscow among others.

Kunduz Girls
Kunduz Girls, 2003
Lavender Flowers Near Maimana
Lavender Flowers Near Maimana, 1978
Boys with a Calf
Boys with a Calf, West of Khanabad, 2003
Wedding Party
Wedding Party, Paghman, 1978


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    David Mills March 14, 2012

    It seems that Luke’s site has disappeared.

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    Connie Comfort May 28, 2012

    What ever happened to Luke Powell, the photographer?

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    Aziza Ahmad July 23, 2012

    It is so sad to see the web site of Luke Powell is down. These pictures are a piece of art and are so valuable. I enjoyed them so much. thanks for putting them on your site.


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    Steve Shucart December 9, 2013

    Luke is happily living in Canada and his long-awaited book of Afghan photographs – ‘Afghan Gold” – has just been published.

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    Steve Shucart December 9, 2013

    Also, one correction, Luke first traveled to Afghanistan in 1971, as I met him on the 2nd class train from Istanbul to Tehran in 1972. We’ve been friends ever since.

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    admin December 9, 2013

    Thank you for the info Steve. Correction made.

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    Michele Burns January 28, 2014

    I discovered Mr. Powell’s work when my daughter was studying Sri Lanka. I was able to purchase print cards from his site. One set of Sri Lanka and one set of Paris. I always remembered how stunning his photos are. A friend of mine just retuned from Sri Lanka which prompted me to look for I wonder if he realizes how many people admire his work? I was able to purchase the Vermont book, a used copy. Please bring the site back! Thank you. Michele

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    Judy Barker November 27, 2016

    Is this the artist whose works were exhibited at OK HARRIS in 2003? If so, is he still selling the large sized photos of warriors on horseback? Please let me know. I have never gotten them out of my mind.