Michael's Dispatches

Whatzis?

99 Comments

24 September 2008
Jalalabad, Afghanistan


The shawal kameez is standard wear for Afghan men.  Since I plan to spend a great deal of time exploring Afghanistan unembedded, I headed into downtown Jalalabad to pick out the material and get fitted by a local tailor.  My Afghan guide and I walked through the markets for nearly two hours.  The only western presence we encountered was when two American OH 58 Kiowa helicopters flew high overhead, and I wondered for a moment if I might know the pilots.

Selecting the material.

Jalalabad is mostly safe, and I felt no threats walking the backstreets and the crowded bazaar, save for one time my danger bell chimed.  There was a young man wearing a black shawal kameez with a bandage on his head and one eye puffed closed.  He gave a long hard look with his one good eye, and I stared back.  But the other thousands of people I saw either seemed to ignore me or were overtly friendly.  I felt safe.  When I travel in northern India, if someone says “hello” in an urban environment, I am immediately suspicious about what’s coming next.  Yet here in Jalalabad, dozens after dozens of people said hello, or gave a thumbs up, and that was it.   Sometimes we shook hands and they just said goodbye and walked away smiling.

The Tailor’s Shop: They were all smiles and laughter and wanted me to photograph them, but the moment the camera came up, they took a serious pose.  Then they started smiling again, wanting to see the photo.  My shawal kameez (similar to the one the tailor is wearing) will be ready on Thursday.

When we shopped for a few items, such as the material for the shawal kameez, there was none of the hard selling or pushy shopkeepers that can be found in many Asian countries.  The atmosphere was altogether peaceful.  One shopowner was a Sikh, and I asked if he was from India, but he was Afghan.  In India and the U.S., I’ve always had good luck with Sikhs.  They tend to be honest and straightforward.

This Sikh man was selling shoes.

There are even some Hindus here.  Interestingly, down south in Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, up in Kabul, and out here in Nangarhar province, most everyone seems to hate or at least greatly distrust the Pakistanis.  Yet when I ask Afghans what they think of Indians, every Afghan I have asked, and that would be many, express affection for Indians.  I ask the Afghans, “You don’t care that most Indians are Hindus?”  “No, no, we don’t care.  We are Muslims and they are Hindus, but we like India.  The Indian people are welcome here.”  Yet the Muslims in Afghanistan do not like the Muslims in Pakistan, while the Hindus in India, in my experience, equally despise Pakistan.  Yet Americans who travel to Pakistan (I have yet to go myself), have always given me positive reports about the people.  From a distance, it looks like all Pakistanis hate all Americans.  Yet, again, the Pakistanis I meet around Asia have always been hospitable and even gracious to me.  I am convinced that we often go to war based on mostly false perceptions of each other.

We kept strolling around the market.  Dozens more people smiled, while many wanted their photos taken, or wanted to shake hands quickly and walk away.

Whatzis?

Mista take piktcha!

Some of the foodstuffs I could identify, but others left me clueless.  There were many stands selling peanuts.  I was getting hungry, but was told that Afghans do not boil peanuts, so we kept going.   It’s Ramadan so the Muslims are not eating or drinking during the day time.

Whatzis?

Gun store.  What kind of guns are these?

Anybody know?  Please leave comments.

Whatzis?

Side one

I came across a coin (at least that’s what I think it is) in the bazaar.  It looked very old, and so I took a few photos, hoping that a reader might be able to identify it.  Maybe it’s a real coin, or perhaps a counterfeit.

Side two

And so it was just another day in Afghanistan, shopping in the bazaar, talking with the people, seeing all sorts of things, some I could identify, others I couldn’t.  Luckily, I can ask readers around the world – Whatzis?

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    ilene neterer · 11 years ago
    thank you, thank you, Michael, you are the best ambassador to bring alive through
    pictures the faces of the people we view as our enemy. You are doing a great job!!
    Godspeed
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    Hans Mast · 11 years ago
    I'm curious about the gentleman with the apparently dyed red beard??? Is it a cultural statement?

    I live and work with Muslims in the Israel/West Bank.

    The red beard is a sign that the person has made hajj to Mecca. However, more recently some people do it just because it makes them look cool.
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    Cindy · 11 years ago
    There's no women in that marketplace. Where are they?
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    mayanin · 11 years ago
    So, that does mean that their weapons come from many places? How are they sent over there?
    I see alot of grain, with all that is going on, how do they havest it, or where do they get it?
    Beautiful fabric, how do they keep like that with everything that is going on?
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    gobluejoe · 11 years ago
    Those rifles hanging on the wall are Martini-Henry's. Those are the type used by the British army in the late 1800's. If you ever saw the movie Zulu, that's the rifle used. I have one and they kick like a mule when shot.
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    Frankie Mayo · 11 years ago
    Michael - be careful. There I've said it. I love your work, but I would not be a good "Army Mom" if I didn't say PLEASE BE CAREFUL!
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    MarcW · 11 years ago
    One of the rifles has a side plate stamped with a crown and the letters "V R". That stands for Victoria Regina, or Queen Victoria, so the 1906 stamp shows they are probably copies as Queen Vic died in 1901.

    I was really surprised to see a Sikh in Afghanistan. Surprised the Taliban had not already killed him for being a Kaffir. Thanks for the info on the attitudes of the different people. Long ago a friend and I sponsored two Pakistani officers at the infantry officer advanced course at FT Benning. They were smart, tough, and had a real appreciation and respect for the US.
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    owlhoot · 11 years ago
    That was a real coin, and although I can't identify the period, side one had Greek writing, and side two had Hebrew. I have seen old Roman coins and this one looks at least as ancient. It may date back to the Hellenic period which predated the roman occupation of Palestine. A great find even if you can't pin it down.
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    dano · 11 years ago
    I agree with Simon. The three on the left are definately 'Kyber Pass' Martini-Henrys. http://www.martinihenry.com/khyberpage.html

    The date is a dead give away. However, that is not a ramrod. M-H's originally had a cleaning rod. The other rifles just have them missing.
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    Joseph Matteini · 11 years ago
    Michael love your photos and what you are doing for our great country.Be safe. Those Martini rifles are single shot,is that standard eqipment for their troops? How hard is it to buy rifles there? No laws ,gun control? One writer mentioned the Colt single action 45 caliber handgun.They used those in the Philipine insurection because the .38 handguns that were standard issue could not stop the drugged up men who had machetes.They 45's stopped the in their tracks.
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    Belasarius · 11 years ago
    I asked my Indian friend, who said, "I see two bags in front are chick peas bags,the one next to it(green stuff) is Masoor dal which is lentil,there is rice flour,whole rice and some other lentils which i dont even know.There are some whole chillies in too"

    I'm guessing some of the beans are foul medames which a previous poster called "fool" beans. I think some of the pastel stuff may be cardamom.
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    Jim Johnson · 11 years ago
    They are called 'Kyber Pass Specials' Some may be original, but most are handmade copies of British Enfield/Snider and other early Enfield type guns from the 1800's.
    They try to even reproduce the English markings. May not be very old but will still have the crown insignia over VR. (Victoria Regina) Vicky died in 1901.
    The Brits left many for them to copy as they had a rough time there years ago.
    Available for sale here as non-shooters, display only.
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    andy · 11 years ago
    Michael,
    Great pics. Is it a pinhole camera?
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    Victoria Allen · 11 years ago
    In the photo with the bags of food staples, the bowl at top right with a black substance in it highly likely is flax seeds, which are about the size and shape of fleas and are a shiny black. Flax is grown all over Afghanistan, not for linen fibers, but as an oil seed crop. In the south, and also in the north around the Balkh province, there are orchards where apricots, grapes, almonds, walnuts, figs, mulberries, and pistachios are grown. Cereal grains are also traditional staple crops, including wheat, barley, millet, rice (in the south) and maize.

    Victoria
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    Hugh Kelly · 11 years ago
    "I am convinced that we often go to war based on mostly false perceptions of each other."

    Some comfort can be found in acknowledging with equal convction that an upright person goes to war driven by scrupulous cognizance of the maniacal disorder levied on the citizenry by ruthless leaders empowered by propogating and perpetuating false perceptions.

    I applaud these upright people that go to war endowed with an innate sense of compassion for the suffering innocents and love of liberty. I applaud them for rejecting the temporary comfort of passivity or the longer lasting yet equally devestating recklessness of revenge to embrace the more difficult role of duty to neighbor so that truth and ultimately liberty for innocents prevail.

    I count you among the upright Michael. Please accept my deepest gratitude for your unselfish duty to others by providing the world with the truth about Iraq which as events have revealed played some role in gifting liberty to the citizens of Iraq.

    I anticipate no less an outcome from your truthful reporting in Afghansitan.
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    Bdoon · 11 years ago
    Mike

    Fotos terrirfic....envy you.

    Azure
    U are so right about preservation...what happened in Iraq was horrific...museums looted etc. A millenia from now the small wars will be forgotten but the knowledge we get from artifacts pricelss. What the Spanish did to the Mayan , Aztec and Toltec scripts etc because they were not Christian was horrible..or for that matter the Taliban destroying the Buddha because it was not of Islam. We are mortal...knowlege is eternal.
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    Kaimiloa Chrisman · 11 years ago
    Michael, I sent your query/pictures to an immensely knowledgeable friend in England who if extremely familiar with English guns and a great many others. He also used to work for the famous English gunmaker Westley Richards.
    Here is what he wrote back about the guns you pictured:

    "From the left, what would appear to be various Martini's:- a Cavalry carbine, a Mk.11 or Mk.111 infantry rifle, an early Mk.1 conversion to Mk.1*, and a Snider infantry rifle, with a local hammer.

    Whilst these certainly have the look of genuine pieces, a close examination will probably reveal, as is more likely, a collection of bits, some genuine, some locally made.

    The hand held pieces are easy, an out and out fake, "VR 1906".????? She died in 1901.!!!! The other is probably a genuine Birmingham made Martini body. With the lettering being the clue, and the state of the various body pins etc.

    Very many of the 'old' guns now showing up in the region, are purpose built bazaar specials, intended for the American market. The Afghans are never ones to miss a trick.!! Many of the pieces in the 'heap' picture are examples of the same - although there is something interesting at the far left back, sticking up - definitely European."

    That's it. Aloha, Ka'imiloa
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kaimiloa Chrisman · 11 years ago
    Michael, I sent your query/pictures to an immensely knowledgeable friend in England who if extremely familiar with English guns and a great many others. He also used to work for the famous English gunmaker Westley Richards.
    Here is what he wrote back about the guns you pictured:

    "From the left, what would appear to be various Martini's:- a Cavalry carbine, a Mk.11 or Mk.111 infantry rifle, an early Mk.1 conversion to Mk.1*, and a Snider infantry rifle, with a local hammer.

    Whilst these certainly have the look of genuine pieces, a close examination will probably reveal, as is more likely, a collection of bits, some genuine, some locally made.

    The hand held pieces are easy, an out and out fake, "VR 1906".????? She died in 1901.!!!! The other is probably a genuine Birmingham made Martini body. With the lettering being the clue, and the state of the various body pins etc.

    Very many of the 'old' guns now showing up in the region, are purpose built bazaar specials, intended for the American market. The Afghans are never ones to miss a trick.!! Many of the pieces in the 'heap' picture are examples of the same - although there is something interesting at the far left back, sticking up - definitely European."

    That's it. Aloha, Ka'imiloa
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    Buck · 11 years ago
    Michael,

    thanks for being there. beware of ALL that stuff because there is a huge industry in counterfeiting EVERYTHING that Westerners want to buy. Particularly the weapons.

    http://www.armscollectors.com/darra/darra.htm

    Of course, when I was there I picked up an Enfield for a case of Coke...
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    Marine Mom · 11 years ago
    Cindy, there are no woman in the pictures because they are not allowed out of their homes unless accompanied by a male! Even a litlle boy, say 4 or 5 years old, can "escort" a female outside, but a woman NEVER goes outside the home without being escorted. In the Islamic culture, women are practically property and therefore have many rules which they must follow. A women going out without being escorted is free game for ANYTHING. A very dangerous and foolish thing to do. The Koran does have sections advocating violence against women, even going so far as to state they deserve it and "enjoy" it. Islamic men on the whole dislike Western women immensely because they are independent and yes, rather aggressive, in many ways. I have worked with Islamic doctors as a nurse and some really despise American women for their behavior and freedoms. There was an article a few years back by an "Islamic" women who wrote how many freedoms they have, but she was talking as a Westerner in America, not as to what it is truly like in a full Islamic country. In fact, she probably wouldn't have been allowed to write the article much less have it published outside of a Western country I would think. I am very thankful to live in the West, and while abhoring feminism, and being grateful for the chivalry of true men, I do feel very sad for the claustrophobic and closed lives of many women in Islamic countries.
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    Keith V · 11 years ago
    Michael, here is a link to a gunco.net discussion of what those rifles might be:

    http://www.gunco.net/forums/f108/help-identifying-rifles-41089/
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    Azure · 11 years ago
    MarineMom: There is no monolithic "Islamic culture", though there are obviously some shared features among Islamic populations. While some of what you say is correct for some places it is incorrect for others. Go to Lebanon or Kosovo and say that women have to be escorted or risk rape. Exceptions? Maybe, but look at Jordan or Syria if you want less liberal examples of places where women, though still faced with patriarchal repression, nonetheless are free to hold high-ranking jobs and have freedom of movement without male escort. Hell, look at Pakistan and the late Benazir Bhutto. That's not to say Afghanistan is not extremely repressive in terms of social mores but that every country (every city even) has its own traditions, interpretations, and beliefs that may vary slightly to radically from others. The continued existence of the Taliban and the legacy of their rule will exert heavy influences on the way society operates throughout Afghanistan. What may have happened (I'm sure Michael can correct us) is that any women in the market, if there were any, avoided having their picture taken by a Western foreign man.

    Perhaps you can show us the passages of the Qur'an where it advocates the beating of women and their enjoyment of it. I haven't seen these and am interested to read about them.

    As far as that article goes, does where someone lives determine how Muslim they are? You put "Islamic" in quotes, as though living in the West makes her less of a Muslim. Does that mean Christians who live in the East aren't really Christians?

    It's funny that you mention the world chivalry, because it's originally a concept taken by Crusaders from their Islamic opponents. And you may "abhor feminism" but you can thank it for allowing you to type on your computer and espouse your views.
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    Mark Walter · 11 years ago
    Mike, I have loved your work since the days I got to know you in the PAO office in Mosul - even if I did help inadvertinly do the press release of Mark and Fadah after the stryder hit. I bring out your work to everyone who wants to know the truth about our troops and the war. God Bless - and keep your powder dry.
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    Charlotte · 11 years ago
    Comments from my nephew, a riflesmith: Cool! A bunch of old Martinis and a Springfield Trap door. I understand how the British Martini rifles made it to Pakistan, but that old Trap door is a long way from home, made at the US Armory in Springfield Mass., probably some time after 1873. I own one from 1884 that is in far better shape than the one in the photos. Springfield Armory made weapons from 1795 until after WWII. After that we have had all our weapons made by privately owned manufacturers.

    They are authentic weapons from a bygone era of western colonialization. It shows you the reality of the region and how it has been influenced by the west over the centuries. I found a number of old Enfields, the British follow on to the Martini, and even an old American WWI rifle made by Eddystone Arsenal for the British in 1914. The western European powers just dumped their old rifles on the colonial governments to keep peace and the weapons remain to this day. I doubt any are functional, and even if they were they have no ammunition. They are just oddities of an odd place.

    Recently in Nepal they found an old palace that was held by the government as a storehouse that was full to the ceiling with weapons from the Napoleonic wars. It was cool... suddenly the world had access to hundreds of 200 year old rifles some predating America!
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    Jason · 11 years ago
    Those guns look like old british rifles, you can tell by the crown stamped on the metal, looks like an Enfield, not a lee enfield though, wonder where they got them from.
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    sam carpenter · 11 years ago
    Michael: I've spent some serious time in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir and, yes, the folks are generally quite hospitable despite polls and op/ed pieces stating the contrary. One hears that old chestnut, "the people love Americans but hate the American government." But, I donƒ??t fully buy the premise that the people hate the American government ƒ?? most Pakistanis havenƒ??t had a shred of direct contact with it. In my travels to the back country I have not felt threatened often, but have heard some quite angry ruminations in Urdu coming from local mosques (those times, I was glad I didn't speak the language). Once one gets away from Pakistani cities, westerners are few and far between. Re your general comments regarding women, the same holds for those in Pakistan although there is the incongruence regarding strict Sharia tenents and leadership positions (ie Bhutto). There is a wide range of beliefs re womenƒ??s rights but, for sure, the further one gets from the cities, the less latitude women have.
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    John Parry · 11 years ago
    Martini Henrys of course!
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    Darryl · 11 years ago
    Alot of other people have chimed in on this, and I agree that the three rifles on the left of the picture are probably local copies of British Martini-Henry short lever carbines (caliber .454 British). The short carbine on the far left may have been rebarrelled to accept the newer .303 British Enfield cartridge (an attempt to keep the aging rifles in colonial service a bit longer). A few of the rebarrels made their way into Nepal and down into what is now Pakistan, and some of these few have Svengali or Urdu script on them, a real rarity and an interesting conversation piece.

    The rifle on the far right is an 1853 model Lee-Enfield rifle musket (caliber .577 British) that has had the stock cut down and the Snyder cartridge conversion done to the breech. The British made note of the Allen trapdoor conversion for the U.S. Springfield and copied it for their Crimean War era Enfields. The Snyder conversion differs from the Allen in that the Allen trapdoor flips forward to eject the cartridge and open the breech, whereas the Snyder conversion hinges out sideways to the right to expose the breech. Both systems were intended to save their governments the expense of buying all new rifles with the advent of brass cartridge breech loading weapons in the 1860s.

    Should you wish to buy one of these weapons for a souvenir, examine all the cartouches and armory markings on the weapon carefully (even under the barrel inside the stock), and check them against one of the weapons websites. I'm not sure how the process works for a civilian (you may have to go to the American embassy in Kabul and fill out a BATFE form 6 to import them), but any firearm predating 1898 is considered an antique by the BATFE, and does not require a Class III FFL to ship to the United States. Hope this helps.

    The coin appears to be Bactrian, and may be a fake (the Afghans are pretty good at counterfeiting coins). If if is genuine, then it's not terribly uncommon for the region, but is a good piece to aquire.
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    Bozazz · 11 years ago
    Wow. I have to say these photos certainly changed my perceptions of Afghanistan. News media could be so uninformative sometimes. I expected lots of deserts and whatever cities exist to be in ruin. Glad to have that dispelled. You're pretty lucky to have a chance to travel there where civilians can not go. When the country becomes stable and safe it would be nice to travel there and take in the local culture. As for pushy salesmen around Asia, I would have to say Beijing is pretty bad. They'd come up and follow you until they get tired or you end up saying no many times. Since I didn't venture away from the tourist locals I can't say if this is indicative of local customs, or if it is just something people picked up by being around the tourists.
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    A. Non · 11 years ago
    I was in Afghanistan 40 years ago and there was a Sikh presence there back then. They controlled the "currency trading market" (that is a euphemism) for many of the neighboring countries.
    I have no idea whether or not it still exists, but you could always find an old guy and ask him about it.trn0
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    Don Ward · 11 years ago
    The inscription at the top of the second coin is easily read as hebrew. Unfortunately my abilities to translate them have dimmed, but any Hebrew prof or Rabbi can tell you what the word may be. There are no vowel pointings, so it could be several words and suggests something pretty ancient.
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    Christoph Pelzer · 11 years ago
    I know it doesn't really belong here, but I spotted the picture of Farah and Major Mark Bieger, that Michael took in 2005, in the musicvideo "Letters Home from the Garden of Stone" by Everlast.
    I don't know if Michael is aware of that, just wanted you to know.

    And while I'm at it.
    Michael, I really appreciate the work you do and I'd like to express my gratitude and respect for your effort, dedication and the risk you take, to do the job you do.

    And to say in my own language: Danke!
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    Frank Wood · 11 years ago
    Mike,
    Most of the rifles you in your pictures appear to be the Martini-Henry (also known as the Peabody-Martini-Henry) a breech-loading lever-actuated rifle adopted by the British, combining an action worked on by Friedrich von Martini (based on the Peabody rifle developed by Henry Peabody), with the rifled barrel designed by Scotsman Alexander Henry. It first entered service in 1871 replacing the Snider-Enfield, and variants were used throughout the British Empire for 30 years. It was the first British service rifle that was a true breech-loading rifle using metallic cartridges. The other appears to be a percussion cap carbine and is very similar to the US Springfield that Cavalry Troopers used early in the Indian Wars except the barrel is much longer than that particular model, next time look for manufacture makings..." Always Ready...Second to None"
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    HLH · 11 years ago
    I asked my brother, who knows Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic... he agrees the first side has Greek letters and the second side has Hebrew letters. Unfortunely, the letters are hard to make out in the pictures... he says, if you get a chance, next time see if you can make a "rubbing" of the "coin". Something that will show the raised areas contrasted well.
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    Kristopher · 11 years ago
    That carbine is abrit Snider conversion, not a US Springfield.

    If you look carefully at image _y4q2542ac730.jpg , you can see that the hinge pin runs along the side of the carbine, and the shoe swings to the side to reveal the chamber.

    On a Springfield conversion, the hinge pin would be in front of the shoe, and it would open by swinging forwards instead of sideways.
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    JRF · 11 years ago
    They have been at the faux weapons business for a long time, not necessarily for the tourists. My father picked up a sword there in 1949 or before that is a counterfeit of a thousand-year-old weapon, but it turns out that the forgery itself is about 300 years old and a valuable antique in its own right. Exactly how valuable we will never know, because it will not appear at an auction house while I live.
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    voice_in_dc · 11 years ago
    Awesome photos and awesome post.

    "Yet here in Jalalabad, dozens after dozens of people said hello, or gave a thumbs up, and that was it. "

    That says a lot about how they receive Americans, doesn't it?
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    Paula L · 11 years ago
    Well before the US went into Afghanistan, I watched a documentary (History or Discovery shannel) on the Afghanis and their resoursfulness at reconstructing weapons. I was impressed with their ingenuity at making needed parts from old cooking pots, wreaked cars or any scrap of metal not in use. Of course they were using the weapons against the Russians so at the time I gave no thought to it. Now that itis our troops, I see it in a different light.
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    Brian Liston · 11 years ago
    Three of those rifles are Braendlin Martini Cadet Rifles

    They date from the 1890s and were most likely made in Birmingham England.

    See the link below for more information:

    http://cas.awm.gov.au/technology/REL/19127
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    Kerry · 11 years ago
    ...or very old replicas.
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    Solomon2 · 11 years ago
    Greek on one side, reading something like "Great King ----". Reverse doesn't look quite like Hebrew, may be Kharo ?œ ??hŽ®. Which doesn't mean it isn't a fake.
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    Edward Williams · 11 years ago
    Darn, I was thinking that I was going to be the first one to say what they were but it appears that I am very late. As the others have said, most of the rifles in the pictures are indeed Martini Henrys. How much do they want for them? Maybe you should pick one up for a couple of bucks as a piece of history. ;-)

    http://www.martinihenry.com/

    Keep up the good work!
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    Edward Williams · 11 years ago
    Hmm, upon closer look at the images one of the Sovereign's Cypher on the Martini Henry has "V.R 1906" (Victoria Regina), queen's crown on the insignia. This is strange, by that time it should have a king's crown and probably say "E.R" (Edward Rex). I suppose that if you do buy one, be sure to examine the quality to make sure they are not fakes.

    http://www.martinihenry.com/metalmarkings.htm
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    Azure · 11 years ago
    Solomon2 is on the right track. I finally got hold of the numismatics books I'd been looking for. I haven't pinned down which coin it is yet but I'm getting closer. I'll keep looking. Nice work, Solomon. :-)
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    gus · 11 years ago
    camera appears to be an old, a very "jerry" rigged or possibly homemade, large formate view camera - negative size would be more than likely 4x5...
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    G45 · 11 years ago
    Martini-Henrys are the lever-actioned guns. The musket-ish one looks like a Snider rifle. Both 1800s English rifles.
    The Afghans seem to be packrats - clearly a male-dominated society.
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    Pezy · 11 years ago
    On side one: ?????œ????????? (on the left) ????????????? (on top) - Kings (of) Great

    It's Greek.
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    ajacksonian · 11 years ago
    I remember early on in Afghanistan that someone from Overstock.com flew into the country to start purchasing jewelry and other local goods for sale on the world market. She went in with a briefcase and checkbook and started arranging for contract production work, which put hard currency into the local markets. Immediately after the majority of the initial conflict she was told that the largest single employer in the country was Overstock.com! That is the power of the global market and a dedicated company willing to find personnel that will risk their lives to benefit local producers.

    While the rifles are not in my league, I am reminded that many post-war German pistols bore Nazi markings and yet were finally constructed and sold in 1946-48. Just because the Queen is dead doesn't mean the contracts died with her. Contract out for some piece-work or put in that markings must be to certain specifications, and you can get oddities showing up. Only an expert, on the spot, can know for sure, but Afghanistan looks to be a antique dealer dream and nightmare, due to the ability to copy antiques so well. Even so, a 100 year old copy is still an antique and of value in its own right.

    I do wish that the Administration had the Dept. of Ag. team up with the DEA and DoD to start a new 'low tech, new technique' technology influx to change farming over to dryland techniques and to offer a bit of price support for crops while pointing out that poppy fields make great ordnance testing ranges. Use DEA to do multi-spectral analysis, Dept. of Ag. to ground-truth and push for better crops and techniques, and DoD to make a point with impromptu test ranges. GIH has had much of the opium market secured via contacts for decades, and his contacts with the Red Mafia are more than slight speculation. Add gem smuggling and semi-precious stone smuggling and you get to understand how he can run an organization going through the 'stans all the way to London. The ISI should never have supported him in the '70s.

    Keep safe, Mr. Yon... and a picture book of your works is something I would purchase!
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    Hellen · 1 years ago
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