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December 29, 2003

War rugs

Despite the typos, prices make this a good resource for Afghan "war rugs". A better introduction to this style can be found here, here and here. I own a small Turkoman rug that is about ten years old depicting what I now discover to be a Soviet HIP-8 troop carrying helicopter and a BMD-2 armoured troop carrier. Alongside them is an AK-74 and a stain of blood.

Shortly after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan smaller rugs bearing images of Soviet weaponry began showing up in the world's markets. They came in a range of sizes and were woven by many of the different groups who had traditionally woven rugs in Afghanistan.

I had a friend who had lived for some time in Baku, Azerbaijan having grown up in Dubai. She was appalled by war rugs, seeing them as artifacts of a kind of voyeuristic tourism that only served to undermine traditional weaving styles and a history of non-representational art in Islamic cultures. There is no question her knowledge of the region is superior to mine but I think she was mistaken in this. If anything, it is an international market for traditional rugs that fetishizes a fantasy of flying carpets while ignoring the devastation wrought by Soviet occupation, warlordism and the disaster of the Pakistani-funded order of the Taliban. I look at these rugs and see a woven scream.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at December 29, 2003 09:03 AM