Ethnik Series: The Kuchi tribe

Ethnik Series: The Kuchi tribe
05/13/2014 Alicia L.

We never tire of talking about the materials we use to make the Odd Fibulae jewels because it really gives them a real personality.

For the design and composition of most of Odd Fibulae jewels, we use original trimmings from nomadic tribes of Afghanistan with Pashtun origin, especially those whose roots come from the Indian region of Gujarat.


The Kuchi tribe is considered one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged ethnic minorities on the planet. This is a group of about 3 million people, of which 60% is still completely nomadic.

kuchi tribe

“Wrapped against wind and sand, a Kuchi woman in Afghanistan lifts a young child” Photo by Thomas J. Abercrombie

Their way of life revolves around the grazing: goats, sheep, camels, and donkeys. And its economy is based mainly on animal trading and products derived from them (milk, hides, meat, wool, textiles …), they, in turn, need farm products (cereals, vegetables, fruits…) Eventually, they work as moneylenders for celebrations of festivals and rituals of the locals in their path.

kuchi woman

Through the centuries, these nomads (Kuchis, Waziri, Sikhs, Azaras …) have developed a large trade network and numerous routes followed through Central Asia.

Although today they have set boundaries and there are difficulties because of war, they have obtained special permission to continue travelling their routes and moving the cattle in search of green fields.

They have also historically contributed to spreading the news through this vast territory.

kuchi nomads

Picture via

With a high rate of illiteracy, they are structured in patriarchal households. The man is the leader and marks the route.

Men dress in traditional Afghan way but women dress quite differently. They are notable for their green and red harem pants and for their shirts in bright colors. They wear headscarves in vivid colors, younger women adorn their hair with jewelry are usually they have facial tattoos done in puberty, in the forehead, cheeks or chin. Often  they decorate their animals with bells or colorful tassels as well.


Being from the Gujarat region of India,  the connection established between the two cultures in terms of aesthetics is very interesting. The type of dress and ornaments is virtually identical. Besides their trade, they exchanged nomadic culture. In the case of decorations and costumes, now you can find similarities in a huge territorial radius comprising several countries. The Kuchi tribe were a living bridge between South Asia and the Middle East.

kuchi tent

Kuchi nomads by Peter Ward

Anthropologist Bernard Dupainge, director of the Musée de l’Homme in Paris said about them:

” The richness of its history, the diversity of the landscape, everything inspires to make Afghanistan a stronghold of traditions and art forms. Each valley has its own cultural identity, it own originality. In a country where the main route of communications was overrun by invaders, the mountaineers turned in on themselves. Access was difficult and uncertain, the valleys isolated.”

Pictures source: Mountains of our Minds

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