This is a rug from Graham Gower’s collection, which he describes thus:
A ‘battle’ rug. The rather confusing imagery shown in this rug represents a view of battle. To be seen in this complex weaving are jet planes dropping their bombs, destruction to property, explosions and gun positions in the hills, plus a road and river and some writing. Versions of this particular war scene are known on other rugs. Size 4ft 11 inches x 2ft 9 inches.
I have seen in a number of variations on this intriguing image, of which this is the most colourful and elaborate in its decorative details. There are a number of aspects of interest to me with this image: what is the view represented? Given that the general layout, and individual elements, are repeated in each example (the row of buildings, the tree, the tower), one assumes they are necessary to the scene or event represented, and recognisable to a knowledgeable viewer… The texts may give a clue. And generally, once we can assemble a number of variations of the same image, it’s of interest to me to learn how an image “evolves” through its various copies of copies, etc., and with what creative flexibility each generation of weavers approaches their task…
Here’s another version for comparison (size 930 x 1630, loose floppy weave, date unknown).
And Plate 25 “Krieg auch in Kandahar” in Frembgen and Mohm (see bibliography) is perhaps a simplified version of the same image – at least the tower, mountains etc. are in a similar relationship to each other. And the text is in English.
And here for comparison are two further images and details posted by Kevin Sudeith and Rebecca Miller at Warrug.com.
Here’s another (rug #460), with Kevin’s commentary:
Small Village Afghan War Rug: This war rug was woven in 1997 in Herat, Afghanistan. It stems from an interesting tradition of Herati pictorial war rugs. An example of this can be seen on our collectors page, war rug I.D. number 7. This is made in the same style and tradition and incorporates similar images. Rug number 7 is loaned to museums and galleries throughout the world. The border of this rug has beautiful color. This border pattern is indicative of a particular group of rugs made outside Herat. Note the similarity to the main border of rug #7, as well as this rug #227, and #263.
The main structure is this war rug found on the left is a mosque. In the mountains, on the right, is an anti-aircraft piece. Just to the left of that are two red and blue geometrical images. This represents the Mujahideen hiding out in so-called pill boxes, where they dig out an area to safely protect themselves from detection as they fight. There is text written in Farsi throughout this war rug. This is a beautiful rug with outstanding colors and forms. Sure to be treasured and an interesting conversation starter, to boot.