War rug art is fascinatingly educational friends! Temple University’s Samuel L. Paley Library, in room 309, is currently holding a Afghan war rug exhibition that contains 14 of my Afghan war rugs. These rugs tell stories and contain history which, ” helps contextualize a group of people that many Americans know very little about.” Theirs so much to be learned and talked about. Go check it out!
This show has curated by Alicia Cunningham-Bryant and student assistant curators, Ilana Napoli, and Rachel Morin.
Your question about Red Rugs is a good one. Red Rugs were woven by refugees, primarily Turkmen, in Pakistan during the 1990’s. Since the US forced the Taliban from power in 2001 Turkmen refugees have been returning en masse to their traditional homes in Afghanistan, largely because ISAF offers them sufficient protection from the Taliban ethnic cleansing which drove many families to Pakistan during the 1990’s.
The effects of the Turkmen weavers returning to their homes in Afghanistan is, primarily, two fold. First, as refugees, if one was an engineer, one wove carpets. If one was a doctor, one wove carpets. Now the doctors and engineers are returning to their professions, so there are less weavers available to weave any type of rug. Secondly, many Turkmen weavers who wove Red Rugs in Pakistan are now weaving traditional designs or new variations of traditional designs (Khul Mohammadi mostly).
Much of the Pakistan production has moved to Afghanistan (Khul Mohammadi, Kazak, Vegetable Dye ‘Peshawar’) with the returning weavers, but not Red Rugs. I have not seen any Red Rugs produced in Afghanistan since 2001. In short, there is no more supply of Red Rugs. Occasionally I find a few Red Rugs and I post them, but they are scarce.
Lastly, this elimination of a design is not unique to Red Rugs, yet it continues to surprise me. Almost every war rug “pattern” has its moment of production, which then fades or stops. What is freely available one year, is totally unavailable the next year. Soviet Exodus rugs are one example and WTC rugs to a lesser degree.
Again, thank you for your question. Please write back if you have any further questions or comments.
Through the trade of regular rugs, and confirmed by ‘the literature’, I’ve learned this type of rug is called Latif Khel.
I am told that in the 1960 and 1970’s Latif Khel were the bulk of the Baluchi produciton, and that Latif Khels were the top quality. Furthermore, that now they constitute a very small percentage of total Baluch sajada production.
First Quality Latif Chel Prayer rug
This rug is extremely fine wool and weave. Note the similarity with color and medallions to this war rug. The flat wool sevedge is the same in this Latif Khel and war rug #1011 also. The weft substitution kilim on this rug, particularly the bottom end, are exclusive to Latif Khel rugs. This rug also has a Seh Mihrabi element in the three white arches at top, as well as four white boxes at top and bottom of field. As a sidelight, now there is a name for Baluchi rugs with the ‘slot car track’ border, like this rug; which is analagous to Kleiber’s Afghanistan page 100.
The field color is midnight blue with a band of abrash. Willful use of abrash will be the subject of a future post.
This Mario Rug in the style of Super Mario Brother 3 shows Mario riding a white horse.
The horseman is the original figurative image found in carpets. Horsemen are found in the wolrd’s oldest carpet, the Pazyrik, from the 5th century BC. This ancient image, the horsemen, coupled with an icon of digital culture, Mario, is beautiful.
Note: This is a tribal rug, reflecting one weavers artistic vision. This rug was selected, with 25-30 others, from a collection of traditional design Afghan Baluchi rugs from Herat and Farah. All the other rugs were of traditional designs bearing no war motifs or western images.
This Mount Fuji rug is new and roughly 1M^2.$150. It shows a simplification and abstraction from a rug like:
Super fine, roughly 5×7, $1400
The new Mount Fuji rug also links to a more abstract group of small Baluchi rugs. Similar too below, but with red and blue minarets in foreground.
Previous Mount Fuji war rug post Another previous Mount Fuji rug post
UPDATE: Rug 465
Here is an example of the more abstract group referred to above which were more common 6 to 7 years ago. The new rug provides a link to understanding the imagery in the rugs like 465. The Mushwani type two minaret mosque borders are noteworthy in the large fine Mount Fuji rug as well as rug #465.