Archive for the ‘Contributors’ Gallery’ Category

as seen in Freiburg

June 8, 2010

Here’s a beautiful and unusual carpet from the collection of Mr Mahmoud Fahartyr. Alas, badly infested with moths…

variation on S11 carpets

June 1, 2010

Here’s an impressive (if that word is not inappropriate, considering the subject matter) version of the World Trade Centre attack in New York, sent to us by the collector Vittorio Bedini, in Milano. Its scale (240 x 150), plus its mosque design borders and its elaborate kilim skirts are all familiar indicators of the very best of Baluch-style carpets we find coming out of the Afghanistan/Iran border region. Its design is closer to the familiar but non-specific “modern city” carpets you can see on Max Allen’s TMC website for his Battleground exhibition. How easy is it for the designer to take a conventionalised scene, and drop the two aeroplanes into it… It leaves one wondering whether the designer’s intentions lay? We’d be very pleased to see any other variations on the S11 theme, if they are out there… Your reactions?

cold war art

May 26, 2009

nl_1984_poster_500I read somewhere that artists in The West were not producing images about war or the arms race. I thought “that can’t be right?”  Then I remembered this Sydney University Art Workshop poster, designed by Nigel Lendon and printed by Pam Debenham. Never been translated into a war rug!


Weavings of War – Fabrics of Memory: Ariel Zeitlin Cooke’s new online catalogue

October 20, 2008

See Ariel’s catalogue plus a walk-through of the exhibition now online.

“Victory” rug with a twist

January 14, 2008


Here’s a rug from Kevin Sudeith’s collection (see which is a ‘victory’ rug with a twist. I confess I didn’t look at it very closely the first time around. It follows the (very) familiar format of the ‘Victory over the Soviets’ carpets which first appeared in the early 90s and which depicts the Soviet forces heading home along the highway that leads from the Salang Pass, across the “Friendship Bridge”, through Termez, and home…

But what is the 2002 date doing there? As Kevin notes, when you translate the text in Farsi you will find that what normally reads: “The Soviet forces are exiting Afghanistan” reads “The al-Qaeda forces are exiting Afghanistan”. This shows how quickly antecedent designs and motifs of tourist art can be recycled to catch a potential market, that is, the new population of ISAF and NATO forces which began to arrive in Afghanistan from 2002 onwards.

Kevin has many variants of this style on his site, which are worth careful examination to see these kinds of variations. For example, some include the dates of both the Saur revolution and the Iran-Iraq war, plus texts which (optimistically) read “international terrorists got wiped off [overthrown] from entire Afghanistan”.


October 29, 2007


How fast does an observation become an “ism”? Here’s an example of the kind of thing Max Allen correctly describes as coeval production: examples of carpets that are clearly made within the same environment, possibly by the same people or persons, with or without an antecedent. The first was this rug collected by Hans Werner Mohm in Kabul in 1992. It is reproduced as Plate 37 in his book (co-authored with Jurgen Wasim Frembgen) Lebensraum und Kalashnikow: Kreig und Frieden im Spiegel afghanisher Bildteppiche (2000).


By coincidence, we spotted the frayed corner of the second carpet peeking out from under about three other carpets in the doorway of a bazaar shop in Herat. It needed a wash.

Comparison of the similarities and differences reveals the extent to which such coeval production reflects the individual design decisions made by makers in close proximity with each other: colours, motifs, texts move around within the common schema of the abstracted map of Afghanistan. Both are dated 1989/90. If you compare the details from the bottom of the carpet upwards, you can see how the elements within the framework are varied by the maker(s). The Herat province (bottom center) can either be represented by buildings or camels, and so on up the design. It’s as if the process allows for a degree of creative freedom, in the hands of the makers.

War rugs in San Jose

August 10, 2007

Follow the link to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, where an exhibition drawn from the collection of Oaklands CA resident, Patricia Markovich, will be on display from August 17…

Accompanying this exhibition, the Museum will also display the Afghan Freedom Quilt: Silenced Voices of the Afghan Diaspora, a collaborative project sponsored by the Foundation for Self-Reliance. The quilt is a collection of blocks made by war widows in Afghanistan and assembled in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pieces sewn for this quilt are symbolic interpretations of what human rights, empowerment, equality, peace, hardship, sisterhood and freedom meant to each individual contributor. The Foundation for Self-Reliance conducts life-skills training and economic empowerment programs for Afghan women immigrants.

Max Allen reviews Enrico Mascelloni: Beyond the West

July 16, 2007

We are pleased to publish the following review of Oltre l’Occidente – Rappresentazioni estreme nei tessuti orientali (2006), which has been the subject of earlier discussions on Rugs of War. Max Allen is the founding curator of the Textile Museum of Canada where, since 1975, he has curated more than 100 textile exhibitions. His review follows:

Exhibition catalogues are sometimes works of scholarship. This one isn’t. Instead it is a work of narrative imagination and polemics, and as such it is a far more striking object than most of the textiles within it. Aside from the fact that everything is from “The East” – as if that meant anything – there is no coherence to the collection, nor any discernible reason for assembling it.


more about war rug dates

July 3, 2007


Here’s the map of Afghanistan war rug referenced in earlier discussions. Thanks to Enrico for allowing us to publish it. It’s plate 55 in his catalogue and the date attributed by Enrico is 1960s/70s, following his argument in the comments below. It was purchased by Enrico in 2006 in Mazar-i-Sharif. The date woven in the rug is 1368/1989 (or 1990) and (thanks to Maryam Rashidi) the text in Farsi reads “made by Afghan immigrants, Islamic Republic of Iran”. The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded in 1979. So by our reasoning it was made some time between 1979 and 2005. The devil is in the detail…


New style of war rug

June 27, 2007


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 blog.