Each new discovery creates its own puzzles. This rug is characteristic of the early phase of refugee camp rugs in Pakistan marking the second generation of war rugs – dating from the late 1980s and continuing during the civil wars of the 1990s. This rug, sent by Rob Silcocks, a new reader of the blog, was found in an antique shop in Austin, where it has been sitting “for the last 15 years”. And from what you can tell from the photos, there’s some Turkmen influence in the framing pattern, and the modest kilim skirts. Which is consistent with other expatriate rugs produced in Pakistan in this era.
The texts, although somewhat scrambled, and maybe phoneticised, are revealing: “Made in Afghani refoji (refugee)” (twice) and “nojadim (?) Islami Afghanistan”, then in Farsi “Zendeh Baad, Afghanistan-e-Eslaami” (“Long Live Islamic Afghanistan”).
But then there is the question of the date: 1357 by the solar calendar is 1978 -79 AD, which is clearly not the date the rug was made, but refers to the time of the Saur revolution and the Soviet invasion. It seems to me that most rugs have dates inscribed in them are NOT the date in which they were made – a convention we might desire, but which is rarely substantiated. Some of these may be simply a case of mistaken inscription – instances of war rugs with pre-war dates will excite some theorists more than it should…
In our experience there are three kinds of dates:
1. Dates that make reference to an historical incident – sometimes substantiated by other texts, the date in European numerals, or other visual clues. However dates such as 1979, 1980, or 1989 make sense in relation to the USSR occupation, or withdrawal.
2. Dates that are mis-transcriptions (given that most weavers are non-literate, this seems fairly common)
3. The date of production. This is rare, but more common in second-generation carpets, where other texts in the same rug clearly address an “outside” audience. It’s sometimes possible to substantiate a date of production by comparison with the character of the carpet, and where it sits in the war carpet chronology, or where there’s a makers name – we have seen name, address and phone number in some carpets, and even the price!