Female Miniaturists in western Herat province complain about the Taliban’s restrictions on art, saying their businesses are facing downturn after the collapse of the former government in August.
Romina Salihi, a 35-year-old female miniaturist, said she sold each artwork for 5000 Afghanis (58$) in the past but she barely can make that amount in an entire month now.
She said she will continue anyways.
“I won’t give up,” she said. “I continue with the minimum wage and resources because art is tranquility, and the preservation of miniature art is necessary.”
Salihi is the teacher of five in a small workshop in Herat. She has created about 300 miniatures in the past 12 years.
“I live for my enthusiasm for the art and it gives me comfort,” she said. “I work all day in the workshop, and create artwork when I return home.”
“Art doesn’t have materialistic aspect for an artist, and the art itself is part of an artist’s life,” she added.
Miniature is a form of painting, divided into two different parts, gilding and illustration. Miniaturists paint on rock, wood, blue glasses and other objects.
The Taliban have imposed restrictions on art.
“The painting art shouldn’t be directed in the wrong direction,” Naimullhaq Haqqani, the Taliban’s director of information and culture of Herat, said while visiting a painting exhibition in Herat in February “Paintings which show women face in full make or portray stranger’s culture shouldn’t be displayed.”
Benafsha Ahmadi, a miniaturist in Herat workshop, said “production and sales were good in the past, but now, with the arrival of the Taliban, we cannot even afford to buy raw materials to create the artworks.”
Hundreds of artists have left the country since the fall of the previous government.
But Raihana Khairul-Sadat, a miniature artist, said she is still hopeful to have her own gallery in the future.
“Miniature art is beautiful and full of patterns,” she said.
She added she wants “to create jobs and provide the possibility of education for other women to be self-dependent” through miniature art.
Zhila Sultani, a designer and trainer of handicrafts for ‘Made in Afghanistan’ project at the Wadan Institute in Herat said 20 women have been graduated from the miniature department since 2019, and most of them have founded their own galleries.
Sulatani said Wadan Institute had two exhibitions in Herat and two in the United States, and mostly female miniature artworks were sold.
“The current administration has no interest in the arts and works of the artists, and according to them, the work of the artist is something unnecessary and useless,” she said.
Romina Salihi isn’t her real name.