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War Rug (Afghanistan)

This is a War rug. It is dated 1990–2000 and we acquired it in 2009. Its medium is wool and its technique is knotted pile. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Both the Soviet Union (in 1979) and the United States (in 2001) have invaded Afghanistan. Between the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and the start of the 21st-century War on Terror came a decade of brutal civil war. Through these decades of international and civil war, Afghans have borne witness to disaster by weaving unprecedented images of battles and weaponry into their rugs.
While most traditional oriental rugs share the same layout—a patterned center field framed on all sides by a protective border—this piece (1990–2000), is typical of later 20th-century Afghan war rugs in that the field and border format has been abandoned and landscapes are drawn from multiple shifting vantage points. Television imagery, from CNN and Al Jazeera, has also influenced rug weaving. Fractured scenes with multiple images and moving lines of text appear on the rugs just as they do on television screens. Other rugs look more like propaganda posters: the weapons and vehicles are presented in large scale on a solid ground and are usually depicted so realistically that the exact model can be identified. During the Soviet occupation, Soviet weapons appeared; after the Soviet occupation, American weapons are featured.
The rug proposed for acquisition would enhance our collection of political and propaganda textiles.

This object was donated by Max Allen. It is credited Gift of Max Allen.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 82.6 × 64.1 cm (32 1/2 × 25 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

War Rug (Afghanistan); wool; H x W: 82.6 × 64.1 cm (32 1/2 × 25 1/4 in.); Gift of Max Allen; 2009-5-2

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions Duro Olowu Selects and The Virtue in Vice.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=War Rug (Afghanistan) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=3 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>