Steve Wallace is a Textile Collector living in Australia and has kindly shared his memories of a visit to the Swat Valley three decades ago through this note. Photos are at the end of the note.\n\n\u00a0\nMadyan, December 1983\nThe background to all this \u2013 General Zia is in charge of Pakistan; there is talk of CIA presence and no doubt it\u2019s true; millions of Afghan refugees in the country; the Soviet invasion is still occurring; there is a lot of heroin business \u2013 people in Peshawar assume I\u2019m there buy heroin \u2013 I\u2019m actually there to buy carpets!\nI went to Swat as it was suggested by a fellow I\u2019d bought some carpets from in Adelaide. It was a good tip.\nSounds and sights from the house\n\nI\u2019m in the Muambar Khan\u2019s upper house, a few minutes walk up from the town main street, mud floor with a small courtyard outside \u2013 rooms on 2 sides. There are geraniums, roses and little pine trees planted along the outer wall. There\u2019s a small heating stove in the middle of the room. Charpoys to sleep on/sit on.\nThe family has a grocery shop in town.\nAmin is the main host for tourists. He is friendly, and knowledgeable.\nUp here, you can hear distant sounds from downhill \u2013 dogs barking, kids playing, motor vehicles. Closer sounds \u2013 more dogs whining and scratching at the doors (there are 9 puppies here), music from the room nearby of our major host (Amin MK, the younger or youngest brother), quiet conversations between the MK brothers and the father.\nSnow has fallen and the more distant (taller) hills are dusted with clean white, mixed with green/grey of frosty pines.\nYou can look over the town from outside the courtyard, and see the hills, more distant snow-capped mountains; the hills are terraced as high as possible, rocky in parts and covered in short grasses. More houses across the valley \u2013 at night there are little strings of lights below and across the valley.\n\nBathing in winter\n\nThis was part of the barber shop \u2013 the barber was doing soapy shaves with a cut-throat razor. The baths (4 booths) were behind wooden doors and with wooden seats, with two 44 gallon drums slowly filling with water and warmed by fires beneath them. Two boys working, looking after fires and the water flow.\n\nThe town\n\nThere\u2019s one main street lined with little shops, restaurants, tea houses. You hardly see a woman in the street \u2013 men in blanket like shawls with golden caps or Pathan woollen hats.\nThe restaurants have stoves/ovens about chest height; the ovens are made of clay/mud brick with vents and multiple holes as \u2018elements\u2019 for all the huge pots. Tea is always on the boil \u2013 men file in, drink a tea via the saucer, and file out again\n\nMingora 18/12/1983\n\nIt\u2019s my birthday and Muhammed\u2019s as well. Consequently, it\u2019s a public holiday (due to Muhammed, not me), and so the bank is not open to change some traveller\u2019s cheques.\nThe man in the tourist office advised us to go to the Swat tourist shop, where the owner happily changed money on confirming I was Australian and therefore trustworthy (!).\nI believe now his shop was replete with phulkaris and related textile works of art, but very sadly, I was unaware of this aspect of eastern work and so bought nothing.\nThe Pakistan Tourist Development hotel (where \u2018luxury\u2019 buses depart for Peshawar) serves coffee and has a huge dining area with many large Afghan (Turkmen style) carpets adorning the floor.\n\nChapli kebab in Madyan\n\nThis is one of the fine meals. The stall has a huge (maybe 1 metre diameter) frying pan on a slope so that the lowest area is getting the main heat from the fire.\nAgain the stove is high so I\u2019m looking up at the cook who is squatting next to the pan with a long-handled kebab moving tool.\nEach kebab amount is weighed, and then slapped down in the pan and moved to the hot area to seal, then moved away to cook a little more slowly.\nYou get one and half naans with each kebab \u2013 naans are delivered in a cloth from the naan baker several shops away. Some customers reject the bit of naan (?too thin/small/burned \u2013 I don\u2019t know) \u2013 so they get another bit and the reject goes back in the pile for the next customer.\n\nMadyan, late June & early July 1986\nFirst impressions from my diary\n\nSitting in Amin\u2019s shop, I see:\n\nLots of children, big eyes (kohl) and sweet faces, children carrying babies, little boys in Pakistani pyjama style suits holding hands as they stroll along\nLots of beards, many of them coloured with henna\nStreets a bit smelly from rotting summer fruit and there\u2019s no shortage of flies\nHuge flock of sheep and goats (in a variety of colour shades) going down the main street with several herders and dogs/puppies with their ears looking like they\u2019ve been chopped back\nThe noise of the river\n\n\nAmin is now married (I never meet his wife) and has been set up with his own grocery shop. I recall seeing in the other family shop a sack of sugar labelled (something like) \u2018United Nations \u2013 for Refugees \u2013 not to be sold\u2019. I express (then and now) no condemnation.\n\nThere are two textile shops in town that I found. I bought some pillowcases, Kohistani purses, and Swat shawl. There was a European at the more replete shop, talking about arranging to film a minibus on the next day picking up a load of textiles/carpets.\nThe main street is a constant stream of trucks, cars, buses belching diesel smoke and casting dust over everything. Goats, cattle and horses are driven up the road. Donkeys and horses often have saddlebags filled with sand, cement, or firewood.. Lots of children \u2013 boys with dirty clothes and faces; girls carrying babies \u2013 they often come to the shop for kerosene, sugar and chai, and some sweets. You never see any girls above the age of (I guess) 10 or 11. Many of the boys wear a beret with a red patch, indicating they are students; others work in the bazaar, like the chai shop boy who brings tea to us in Amin\u2019s shop \u2013 shanghai around his neck, playing and working at the same time, tossing rocks or sand at other kids\u2026\nTrip up the valley to Bahrain/Behrain and Kalam\n\nThe morning starts with tea and paratha. Tea is from the shop across the road.\nThe paratha man has a little set up with a kerosene stove, a frypan with a hook high above and a seat for the cook. Parathas are tossed into the oil, cooked and then hung on the hook so excess oil drops back into the pan \u2013 a brilliant one-man, movable set up. I suppose he sets up at a few spots along the road through town over the morning.\nThen I head off to walk up the road to Bahrain (about 10 kilometres \u2013 I\u2019m in \u2018training\u2019 for trekking in Ladakh). Snow-topped mountains emerge as I head up the road; the river is rough and rocky, water surging up and down in troughs and smacks of spray, and it\u2019s grey from melting snow.\nRoad workers and children abound, many \u2018Salaam Alaikums\u2019 and \u2018Hellos\u2019. Farmers are ploughing their little terraced plots with buffalo. Nomads (I believe) maybe Gujars (??) setting up a cup of tea just off the road.\nBahrain is stretched along the road and cut by a stream like Madyan \u2013 the stream hurtles down and joins the main river by a great slab of grey rock.\nAn Afghan has a shop here with ikats, Uzbek embroidery (segushas), Turkmen coats and carpets. He has some men out the back sewing up patchwork hangings from old ikats and other bits and pieces, and making tea. I had some green tea and bought two segushas.\nThen I hopped on to the roof of minibus to Kalm \u2013 a very scenic and slightly scary ride when the road was very close to the river. A slow trip due to road repair, streams, and muddy slopes. At one time we had to get off/out of the minibus and help push it up a muddy hill. Amazing sight of a huge boulder sitting out from the hillside slope on a pillar of gravel. There are waterfalls and (I think) glaciers up higher. There are goats, donkeys and cows. The hills are steeper with less cultivation and plenty of forest about.\nKalam is spread out on the stones and gravel left by the river. It is at the foot of the valley with tall steep hills behind the town from the initial view I took when I climbed the (small) hill behind the minibus stand.\nPakistani tourists sit on charpoys over the river, enjoying the cool wind and fruit and drinks.\nI cross the river to the township and went to have some chapli kebab in a restaurant. The men up here look a bit wilder \u2013 old men with long hennaed beards and a few guys with rifles and custom-decorated automatics (AK47s I suppose).\nAs I return to Madyan, from the minibus I see the same nomads (Gujars?) some kilometres closer to Kalam; they\u2019re driving their cows and goats along the road.\nAt some stage I recall Amin telling me that if you wanted to trek up near Kalam, you should have a (armed) guard, due to kidnapping and general tribal (what we would call) lawlessness.\nI\u2019ve read recently on the internet that I\u2019m really into Kohistan rather than Swat once I get as far as Kalam\n\nPhotos which follow:\n1. Main street, donkey \u2018caravan\u2019\n\n2 & 3 Shots of Madyan from the hill where I stayed\n\n\n4 & 5 The tea shop man and his son\n\n\nA house on the hill\n\nAnother view across the valley\n\nSteve Wallace\email@example.com\n***\nThank you Steve for letting us live this experience vicariously!\nJune 2015\nGuest Post \u2013 Memories of Swat \u2013 Kohistan Valley\nThe post Guest Post \u2013 Memories of Swat \u2013 Kohistan Valley appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.