Archive for August, 2004

External influences: Land Mine warning

August 29, 2004

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Images such as this suggest the influence of outsiders in the design, production and purpose of some war rugs. While this is a much larger issue than the specific questions raised by this example, the whole nature of the design process is something I’d like to know much more about.

The construction of this rug is among the finest I have encountered, suggesting a high degree of control over the circumstances of its production. Perhaps the outcome of an NGO initiative in a Pakistan refugee camp? The precision of the English text suggests a designer with a high degree of literacy. And, of course, the fact that the text is in English suggests, contradictorily, that the intended market was the outside world, far from the problem depicted…

The English text reads: “IF YOU SEE ONE MINE THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MANY OTHERS AROUND IT”, and, “RETURNING HOME DISCOURAGING AFGHANS FRAM 10 TO 30 MILLION MINES”

This rug is in the Sydney collection of Richard Elliott. Elliot’s role in the collecting of rugs for the Sydney art dealer Ray Hughes is described in Tim Bonyhady’s essay in The Rugs of War, an extract of which is over the fold:
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More from the Bell Private Collection

August 21, 2004

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This beautifully rich rug shows an unusual bilateral symmetry, with what reads to me as a conceptual representation of a cityscape. Again, tipping it on its side reveals its pictorial structure, yet the whole must be explored from every side’s orientation. (Comments and comparisons invited!)

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Orientation

August 21, 2004

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Here is an example of a prayer rug to follow up my previous references to the question of the orientation of rugs and the observations made by Trikamon on the challenges of viewing a rug when its constituent elements are multiply oriented (such as this rug from the the private Bell Collection).

This rug combines the architecture of the mehrab with the pictorial structure of a cityscape, and what may be a plan view of the ambiguous object in the centre of the image. It would be good to find cross-references to either of these elements in other images.

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Is this the only image of the devastation of war? Looks like a ravaged cityscape to me…

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The Bell private collection

August 11, 2004

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How amazing is this? This rug is the first of a number from a new private collection contributing to this site – the Bell Collection. Welcome and thank you for contributing this extraordinary image.

On first glance you may well ask: what makes this a war rug? Thanks to Keith and Rebecca’s images, I will zoom you into the highly abstracted details which derive from representations of helicopters, inserted (upside down, belly up) to disturb this idyllic scene. We’ll leave the identity of the central figure as an open question…

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Which city? update

August 2, 2004

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Here’s a variation on the war rug I loaded a week ago – surely someone will recognise this bridge-like structure? Comments please…

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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.

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Abstraction and territory

August 2, 2004

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Representations of the map of Afghanistan in rug form is one of the more complex and variable sub-categories. It seems to span the whole era of war rugs, and is still in production today – sometimes cartographically accurate, sometimes highly abstracted.

Here are some examples of the abstract end of the spectrum. Who has others of this genre? Plate 37 in Frembgen and Mohm (see bibliography for details) is a good example from the middle decade.

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