Archive for July, 2004

More from Graham

July 26, 2004


Graham Gower comments:

A superb example of an Afghan War townscape rug. Visually well constructed and full of detail. Probably representing Kabul or a similar large town in Afghanistan. Note the antenna and the various architecturally styles and buildings. This rug shows an amount of wear, particularly a worn pile, however it is in very good condition and woven with a quality wool. This rug is probably a first generation rug, woven during the early 1980s, and carriea border design of military equipment, a style seen on a number of early war rugs. Size 4ft 10 inches x 2ft 10 inches.



July 26, 2004


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




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.



Gower Collection: cityscape

July 18, 2004


Graham Gower contributes another image from his collection, (the first, collected in 2001) which he describes as:

A Baluch war rug depicting a town scene. Again the weaver has presented the viewer with a schematic townscape, plus a crude interpretation of Russian writing seen on military vehicles. The centre part of the rug seems to depict a military compound. Not to be left out is the ‘Tree of Life’ design, symbolic in the time of war. Late 1990s, size 4ft 9inches x 2ft 11 inches.


Thank you Graham. The top-to-bottom symmetry of this rug is a very elegant convention to show the same image as you approach the rug from either direction. Can anyone contribute a similar image? Is the text translatable?

Which city? and origin?

July 18, 2004


This is a beautifully made war rug which shows a cityscape with a distinctive bridge-like structure and buildings, with helicopters overhead and other signs of war material. It has extensively detailed end kelims and wide side borders, and a passage of uncoloured flatweave which runs across the base of the image. I’m hoping someone will recognise which city is being represented here, and from the detail identify its style and possible origin. Or could it be an imaginary city – a representation of a place far distant from the maker’s origins? Comments please.


Luca Brancati

July 13, 2004

Those with a sense of history will recognise the name behind a recent comment as the originator of the first exhibition of eighty war rugs in Turin in 1988. Welcome Luca!

This benchmark exhibition (perhaps the very first?) was recognised in Tim Bonyhady’s essay “Out of Afghanistan” in the catalogue for our exhibitions here in Australia. I wonder if the collection is still intact?

More cruise missiles

July 1, 2004


Another representation of guided missiles…



Is this how the West looks to the maker of this rug? A world of hi-tech luxury and leisure protected by missiles? Not so surprising?

The cruise missile generation

July 1, 2004


This image is wide open to interpretation. It looks to me like three cruise missiles flying over a city (highly abstracted and conventionalised) or perhaps a cross-section of an underground bunker. I presume this is a generation post 1999, when the US sent in its retaliatory strikes against OBL.

What do others think?

Updated to add: this rug is also discussed in this post from April 2006.