The design of this rug is not typical of the type, and the pattern conveys a special sensibility. The figure, represented by the pattern inside the mihrab, is the same as the world, represented by the same lattice pattern outside the mihrab. The part that is different is where the prayers go up from the figure, and the lattice breaks down to series of small dreamy motifs.
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.
“The anonymous weavers of six 1980s and 1990s-era “war rugs” — carpets whose motifs include land mines, guns and soldiers — may have had no formal training, learning from their relatives, but they have incorporated the grim realities of life in a war zone into their traditional craft.”
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.
Here are four rugs woven by two weavers of one pattern. The two pairs have distinctly different structures and materials, but each pair’s material, color, drawing, border, handle, knotting, and selvedge is consistent. Note inverted red helicopter in Camel 1.
Interestingly, in Murray Eiland’s Oriental Rugs, 1976 edition, on page 83 is a rug of this design attributed Shindand, mid twentieth century.
I asked permission to take photographs, which was kindly granted to me. I knew at the time that this was a unique and special honor.
so this incredible opportunity to photograph the tailorâ€™s family was a very special one indeed. And, little did I know at the time what a rare event it really was.
The tools for carpet weaving are simple and few. There’s the loom, in a horizontal position. The weaver squats on the finished carpet as she weaves. She ties new knots of dyed yarn along the edge. She trims the tied knot with the curved knife. Then she tightens the finished row of knots with the long-handled comb. Then, she further trims the area she just finished with the scissors, maintaining an even pile on the whole carpet.
Lion Brand’s Design team had prepared gift bags of basic yarns in subdued colors, thinking that these would be in keeping with their guests’ cultural tastes but were surprised to find that the Afghan women were excited by the novelty ribbon and fur yarns in bright colors and especially the whimsical garments and stuffed animals for children that they saw on display.