Early Taimani mosquescape with aircraft

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This is an image sourced from Ron O’Callaghan, who writes:

This is an Afghan war rug made in Afghanistan by Chahar Aimaq Taimanis from Northwestern Afghanistan just east of Herat. This rug came to us from Afghanistan and it is as if it has been sequestered in a time capsule. We believe it came from earlier in the Soviet phase of the war and is characteristic of a rare group of pictorial rugs from the Herat area in Western Afghanistan that are read horizontally rather than vertically. The field is a light oatmeal, natural wool, undyed. Pictured here are three mosques, shown as the main domed mosque buildings with their towering minarets from which the muezzins proclaimed the daily prayers. Ascending between the mosques are trees-of-life, fruit trees probably pomegranates. Also appearing between the mosques are six Soviet fighter/bombers, probably MIG-25s. Both on the field and on the border are representations of Russian Cyrillic letters. There are very nice kilim ends on this piece.

Compare the symbols of fighter aircraft with the beautifully simplified images in the flatweave works in the Gower collection – is this a link to the origins of the latter? I admit it’s arguable that many aircraft and bomb symbols are reduced in this way – but in this case the comparison is very close…

I particularly like the ominous “clouds” of Russian Cyrillic text in the sky above the mountains… stormy weather ahead…

(PS Graham – I’m having trouble with your email address… could you confirm?)

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2 Responses to “Early Taimani mosquescape with aircraft”

  1. Max Allen Says:

    Many war rugs, including this one, are said to include Cyrillic writing. But are there actually rugs that show unmistakable examples of Cyrillic letters? This rug, for example, has the letters u, l, t, i, w, k, s, b, a, h, x, m, and v. There is also something that looks like a sigma, but is probably an m or w sideways; in any event there is no sigma-shaped letter in Cyrillic. The rugs that depict the big white ferry-boat are famously supposed to present Cyrillic writing, but the letters are not distinctively Cyrillic. Russian, like American, armoured vehicles often are marked with numbers, but not Cyrillic writing. Can anybody find a war rug image that contains a clear depiction of one of the eight Cyrillic letters that does not occur in the Roman alphabet?

  2. Nigel Lendon Says:

    Thanks Max, that’s a very pertinent comment, and question for readers. There are many assumptions made about the rugs being first made for Soviet officers – a claim which has not yet been fully substantiated. But as well, letters (and images) are often mirror-reversed. There’s even a rug with PEPSI upside down on the tanks, which I’m sure must be just a random set of letters signifying foreign-ness…

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