Kelims from the Gower Collection


Graham Gower has sent another seven images to add to the Contributors’ Gallery. I have never seen anything like these before … Graham describes them as follows:

These seven kelims are Soufrehs, items which were woven for general domestic use, such as table, eating or cooking cloths. They are woven using a coarse straw coloured wool with cotton warps and simply decorated using basic designs of tanks, helicopter, guns and rockets. The quality of the weaving is not high and colour dyes are muddy. They were functional items with short term use. Normally these cloths are decorated with simple abstract geometric designs. They are most likely tribal and date to the Afghan War period – 1979-89. Unusual items and rarely seen. Originally they were on sale in Germany but did not sell and were shipped to the dealer’s other shop in Croydon, South London, where I purchased them for 9 pounds each, some four years ago. They are all approximately 3 feet x 2 feet in size.






rug7 1.jpg

If any other readers can contribute similar images, please do… Enjoy!


5 Responses to “Kelims from the Gower Collection”

  1. kevin sudeith Says:

    This is a nice collection of kilims. The simplicity is great.

    Good price, too!

  2. Barry O’Connell Says:

    The 5th rug has a self-propelled howitzer that only saw service on the main highway just north of the Salang Pass. These rugs were made primarily on looms working with a Turkmen friend of Brian Spooner whose name I forget. They were his wife’s idea. I discussed a related piece with the man’s son when he was visiting George O’Bannon in Tucson. I suspect that it uses a double interlock weave and cotton warps.
    Best wishes,
    Barry O’Connell

  3. Nigel Says:

    looking through the new references up on the web, the design on #8 at corresponds to one of your kelims here

  4. JBOC Says:

    That is the one I was thinking of. The Russians did not have any big guns suitable for convoy guard duty in the Kuh-e Hendukos mountains since the Mujaheddin would get up high and fire down on the convoys. I had a wonderful chat about these with the legendary arms expert David Isby. He was amazing it seemed like every time shooting started in the 3rd world there was Isby with a camera. His work in Nagorno Karabakh and Afghanistan is like something out of a movie. I asked him why would Soviet ZS3 or ZS4 self propelled Howitzers appear on a rug from Afghanistan? You see we know what our side gave to the Mujaheddin and we know what the Israelis the Indians, and the Iranians supplied. We can also look at the Soviet Order of Battle and what we see in the rugs must have been in country if it was to appear on an authentic war rug. The ZS3 or ZS4 self propelled Howitzers were not a common weapon and not designed for a war against rebels. Anyway Isby explained that the only place they were used in Afghanistan was on the long climb up to the Salang tunnel south from Mazar-i-Sharif. Once the convoy would get to the Mountains they would be escorted by the Howitzers. They could only pull 5 miles per hour up hill but they could shoot almost straight up. High up on the ledges Afghan children would fire down those RPG7 missiles we used to get from the Red Chinese while the Howitzer crews tried to pick off the children with their big guns. It is odd in a way that the Red Chinese willingly sold us the rockets that were so effective against the Soviets. It seems to me that Russia, China, Bulgaria, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Pakistan, and Romania all made RPG7s but the Chinese model had a longer range and a bigger charge than the standard. Sorry for rambling on so much. This is probably far more than anyone wants to know.

  5. Graham Gower Says:

    Interestingly, these Kilims use the Weft-faced plainweave technique, with a double weft (a method which limits the design to basic shapes. They came from a large batch, the remainder being decorated in various geometric styles without war imagery. Included with the batch were a number of runners, with a length of around 10 feet. Some time later in another rug dealers stock I came across a smaller batch of the same type. Whether these weaves are from the same source as Barry mention I am not sure.


    Graham Gower.

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