After Soviet & US invasions: Creation of beautiful war rugs

Afghan War Rugs, AFP-JIJI
War Rug in Afghanistan
Photo: AFP-JIJI

Every time there is war in a region, the locals look for ways to ease their frustration in an effort to remain hopeful. Afghanistan has been at war for a long time and while most people are aware of the United States invasion in 2001, the Soviet Union had occupied the region in 1979. The Middle East region is renowned for its creative rug art and this trade was popular among the women. Up until the dawn of the 1980s, Afghanistan rug makers would dramatically alter the designs of the rugs. Instead of flowers, tanks, airplanes and rocket launchers would comprise the basic design of the rugs. Even though these new-age rug designs would be symbolic of hard and trying times, they would be among the richest art form as a result of war.

The art of rug making in Afghanistan for centuries past was practiced by women. As it was popular among the nomadic tribes, it was not long before various tribes took it up as an activity they would do with their hands. The presence of the Pazyryk rug believed to have been made in the 4th century B.C. is evidence of this deep-rooted tradition. The rugs were used a medium to preserve patterns and lessons as experienced by the artist. It is this inspiration to make art pieces to depict the life around them, which led to the rug images changing following the invasion of Soviet forces.

The rugs of war are a way for Afghanistan women to voice their free will to the world. It so happened that after the Soviet Union left Afghanistan and before the United States invasion, the Sharia law was instituted. This came with a strict code of conduct for women, which meant that they would be confined. The Sharia law also prohibited the use of some images in the war rugs and this meant that animate images like animals, birds and people could no longer be used on the painting.

It is reported that the rugs have sparked an underground movement in artistic circles. As those rug makers who live outside the Afghanistan region would keep making art of any images they wanted, the Afghan weavers would use their work to communicate to the world, having the chance to mirror what is happening around them.

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War Rug

Red War Rugs

Red War Rug with Green and Tan RPG, Hand Grenades and Land Mines, 107 X157 cm, Turkmen Tribe
Red War Rug with Green and Tan RPG, Hand Grenades and Land Mines, 107x157cm, Turkmen Tribe
Photo: Kevin Sudeith

War Rug With Map of Afghanistan, by unknown maker in Baghlan, date unknown. Acquired in Peshawar, Pakistan, 1998.
War Rug With Map of Afghanistan, by unknown maker in Baghlan, date unknown. Acquired in Peshawar, Pakistan, 1998

Red Rug with Magenta Accents, mid 1990s, Pakistan, by Turkmen tribe, 61x92cm
Red Rug with Magenta Accents, mid 1990s, Pakistan, by Turkmen tribe, 61x92cm
This rugs was part of a production woven by Afghan refugees in camps in Pakistan. Production ran until 2001 when many weaving refugees returned to Afghanistan. A single row of rainbow bullets line the edges. The reason for the numbers is not totally understood but are believed to be an arbitrary list of what the Pakistani women hypothesized to be on the sides of Russian tanks.
Photo & Text: Kevin Sudeith

Red War rug
Red War Rug

Yellow War Rugs

Yellow War Rug
Photo: Daniel Walter

War Rug with Kalashnikovs and Tanks, by an unknown maker in a Pakistani refugee camp, date unknown. Acquired in Peshawar, Pakistan, 1998
Yellow War Rug with Kalashnikovs and Tanks, by an unknown maker in a Pakistani refugee camp, date unknown. Acquired in Peshawar, Pakistan, 1998

Yellow War Rug Afghanistan Wool
Yellow War Rug, Afghanistan

Yellow War Rug Afghanistan
Yellow War Rug, Afghanistan

Yellow War Rug
Yellow War Rug

Large Iraq Rug, 2003, Pakistan, by Uzbek tribe, 162x246cm
Large Iraq Rug, 2003, Pakistan, by Uzbek tribe, 162x246cm
Photo: Kevin Sudeith

World Trade Center Rugs

World Trade Center Flag Banner War Rugs, 2012, Afghanistan, by Turkman tribe, 63x81cm
World Trade Center Flag Banner War Rugs, 2012, Afghanistan, by Turkman tribe, 63x81cm
Photo: Kevin Sudeith

Twin Towers Rug, after 2001; acquired in Kabul, ... after 2001, acquired in Kabul, Afghanistan, private collection, 2004,
Twin Towers Rug, after 2001

American Drones on War Rugs

Predator Drone Rug, 2002, Pakistan, Turkman tribe, 63x101cm
Predator Drone Rug, 2002, Pakistan, Turkmen tribe, 63x101cm
This rug features an array of Predator drones used, allegedly, in Pakistan. The drones appear armed given the long rectangels attached perpendicularly to the wings.
Photo & Text: Kevin Sudeith

Red White and Blue Drone Rug, 2002, Pakistan, Turkman tribe, 61x99cm
Red White and Blue Drone Rug, 2002, Pakistan, Turkmen tribe, 61x99cm
Featuring reaper drones
Photo & Text: Kevin Sudeith

Three types of UAV's used in Pakistan, 2014, Pakistan, Turkman tribe, 89x124cm
Three types of UAV’s used in Pakistan, 2014, Pakistan, Turkmen tribe, 89x124cm
This rug is the first to show three types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s), or drones, apparently used in Pakistan during the past few years. This rug features the drones in their relative sizes. The Global Surveyor is a jet powered drone used in surveillance and is the largest shown. The medium sized drones are Reaper drones and the smallest shown are Predator drones.
Photo & Text: Kevin Sudeith

Overt Weapons

copters-and-trad-guls

Portrait Rug

Portrait Rug (Amanullah Khan), by an unknown maker in Afghanistan, date unknown. Acquired in Peshawar, Pakistan, 1985
Portrait of Amanullah Khan, by an unknown maker in Afghanistan, date unknown. Acquired in Peshawar, Pakistan, 1985

 

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