The War Rugs of Afghanistan
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 occupied the region in 1979. The Middle East region is renowned for its creative rug art, and this trade was popular among 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 forms as a result of war.
Alighiero Boetti – Mapa del mundo (Map of the World), 1971-72, embroidery
The story behind Boetti’s Maps of the World
In 1971 upon his departure from Italy and his arrival in Afghanistan, Alighiero Boetti began a continuous collaboration with local weavers to produce embroidered tapestries, using himself only as the referential artist but considering the works a creation of a combined effort. Mappa del Mundo is a colorful, beautifully crafted tapestry showing each country emblazoned with its own flag, examining borders, frontiers, nationalism, and patriotism. The borders are emblazoned with Italian and Persian texts, selected by Boetti and the craftswomen.
More than 150 maps created between 1971 to 1994
Over the next two decades, from 1971 to 1994, more than 150 maps of different colors and sizes were created in this way. From this, geopolitical changes were tracked throughout the world, transforming a simple idea into a political vision by visualizing territory disputes and regime changes. Halfway through their endeavor, the embroiderers selected a pink thread to fill in the oceans, completely altering the look of the works. Boetti loved the intrusion of chance into the artistry of the craftsmen, and let them select the thread colors from then on. Because of this, he has little say in the appearance of the maps.