Two new war rug collection catalogues

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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.

2 Responses to “Two new war rug collection catalogues”

  1. enrico mascelloni Says:

    My research in Peshawar, Quetta, Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-i-sharif, Herat, Tehran, Zabol on war carpets (started 20 years ago) didn’t reach any definitive result but have opened my reflection on a large field I call “Afgan modernism”, in which the war carpets are only the last (and in some way crystallized) sector:
    -to consider war carpets a close[d] field simply and mechanically connected with the afghan wars shows a lack of understanding of the complexity of the modern afghan history and culture. confirming nothing more then the leitmotiv of a “medieval country” totally closed to modernity. the weapons are modern and the war is terribly modern, as knows very well [those] who assist to a “clever bombing”. The modernization of afghan army started in the late fifties and the first modernist carpets (woven in the sixties and celebrating the building of dams or other modern infrastructure) have often a frame of tanks or helicopters, which before the war are just a sign of modernization. Starting from this consideration I propose a new context also for the “war carpets”, which, as many collectors knows very well, are often undated and bought in the western market in recent time. Of course I’m not a clairvoyant, but I’ve been travelling in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asia for 20 years, collecting “modernist carpets” and placing them in a large field in which the date isn’t simply a market guarantee, but the uncertain result which is possible only knowing very well a deep and complex culture. The dating of the war carpets published in “oltre l’occidente” is nothing more then the opening of a “field” out of which “war carpets” risk to be a [non-]understandable category of the postmodern taste. I know very well the area of war carpets is difficult to travel (specially for anglo-saxons), but the main sources of information remain the bazaars and specially the old dealers of Kabul and Herat often emigrated in other centralasian places and still alive and ready to tell something of this charming and strange story. My research is hazardous to be synthetised in few lines. Who likes to know something more on my research may read the [my forthcoming] book “the nightmare of modernism”, which will be published by Skira next october.
    enrico mascelloni

  2. enrico mascelloni Says:

    as knows very well who is attending centralasian bazaar the written dates of modern carpets (and sometime also for the old ones) are one of the most surrealistic exercise, because they are connected with four different calendars. only the “esperti da tavolino” (scholars who haven’t visited this places) could be sure of a date. In the Kabul market is possible to find many “war carpets” on the 9/11 with the burned towers dated 1311 (obviously of egira)!
    enrico mascelloni

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