Archive for June, 2007

New style of war rug

June 27, 2007

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One of our readers sends us a number of new war rugs which have just come on the market (characterised by yellow fields, and poor materials and skills). This is a portrait of Ghazi Amanullah Khan. This sharp-eyed reader also suggests that the image below, which features a “135” tank (or is that T35?), might solve a part of the jigsaw puzzle posed by the “ragged mihrab” discussions. This also feeds into Kevin Sudeith’s discussions of the same motifs on his warrug.com blog.

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Essay in German

June 21, 2007

For those who read German, Hans-Werner Mohm reminds us of the online essay by Prof Rolf Sachsse, Geknüpfter und gewebter Krieg: Militärische Motive auf afghanischen Teppichen. published in Zeitgeschichte online, illustrated by many of Hans-Werner’s recent acquisitions, and also the historical novel Hindukusch by Michael Pfrommer, which has one of Hans-Werner’s most extraordinary carpets on the cover.

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Two new war rug collection catalogues

June 17, 2007

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Two new catalogues of Italian collections have been received by rugsofwar. The first, the collection of Amadeo Vittorio Bedini, in Milan, illustrates 28 war rugs. The text is in Italian, and together with Bedini the author Christen Ungennant illustrates the sources of many of the militaria elements in the carpets. The collection is mostly representative of fine examples of the second generation of war rugs (late 1980s and 1990s). We’re awaiting a translation before we can comment on the text. Vittorio assures me the AK47 on the cover illustration is a model!

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The second is a wide ranging collection of textiles from the later decades of the 20th century, with 16 examples of war rugs illustrated and discussed (in both Italian and English) by the co-curator/editor/author (and perhaps collector) Erino Mascelloni, from Rome. The catalogue accompanies an exhibition that was held in Todi at the Sala delle Pietre e Monastero delle Lucrezie from December 2006 to February 2007. It’s not clear from the text from which collections these works are drawn, although all the discussions of the texts for war rugs are by Enrico Mascelloni, in a section titled “Asian Modernism”. The author makes a number of claims for an earlier time frame for “war rugs” than accepted by other scholars and collectors, or evidence available to us. He dates some of his “war rugs” back to the 1960s, in one case a rug (purchased in 2006) by interpreting an explicit date woven in the rug (1368/1989 or 1990) by the Turkish calendar! Many of the war rugs have similarly optimistic dates. I will review the text and some of its claims more comprehensively in a later post. The catalogue is published by Skira.

Helicopters and other images in Afghanistan and Iraq

June 13, 2007

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While we’re on the theme of helicopters (see below, or type “helicopter” into the search bar), Max Allen points us to this example – a helicopter appearing on a military patch. This is a UK/Australian/Dutch coalition Medevac patch made in Afghanistan.

Patches are of interest to the RoW project in the sense that all imagery which finds its way into the public domain (logos, postage stamps, posters, television, videos etc.) has the potential to be appropriated by rug-designers. And this is especially relevant with respect to images of militaria and other images which carry specific ideological messages.

As Max comments, military personnel sew embroidered patches on the shoulders of their uniforms to identify the unit to which they belong. The patches range from simple to elaborate, sometimes incorporating recognizable imagery and writing; until recently, official U.S. patches were colourful but are now only in in the dull browns and greens of camouflage.

In addition to the official unit patches, there are so-called “Friday patches” which military personnel wear on their off-duty clothing. Early in the various Gulf Wars these unofficial American patches were often stunningly vulgar (as in the final example below). They are not produced anymore.

Both kinds show weaponry drawn in an outline style and using isometric perspective that has been copied on (or from) the war rugs. This aircraft carrier appears in the Twin Towers rugs:

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Here are some other examples from Max’s collection…

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Helicopter Molas

June 7, 2007

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Max Allen points us to the US helicopters depicted in mola (plural molas), the traditional textile art form of the Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands. The San Blas Island territory (properly referred to as “Kuna Yala” which is the local name) is on the north coast of the Isthmus of Panama. See Folk Art and Literature: a Weblog or the Wikipedia page for more details.

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