Staying Relevant – Afghan War Rugs

I was shocked to see how current events have been incorporated in the ancient female rug weaving traditions of Afghanistan. Planes, tanks, guns, and helicopters show up as handwoven rug motifs. I gather this style began during the Soviet invasion, and continues today. I’m dismayed to contemplate that these might be the longest lasting artifacts of the U.S. presence in that country.

There’s lots more information at, including links to specific motifs and exhibits of these rugs.

Bus with tanks and rockets

Grenade in middle

Helicopters, tanks, bullets, and Kalashnakovs

Tanks and cars

Weapon inventory


Filed under Commentary

11 responses to “Staying Relevant – Afghan War Rugs

  1. Indeed, that is a shock! I assume there was no political commentary intended, but certainly these rugs are a sign of the times.

  2. The article is really interesting, in talking about the limitations placed on weavers, in terms of what they were allowed to depict, but military paraphernalia was okay. I’d love to talk to some of the weavers–did they see their work as social commentary or protest, or were they so fully immersed in war that these were the only images to come to mind?

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I can’t help but wonder how much the original weavers earned from the sale of these rugs.

  4. So very interesting. I never thought so much of what we live comes out in our arts. So sad this is what so many live daily.

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