Afghan weavers have taken to depicting modern weapons, combat vehicles, and war scenes on their rugs. These painstakingly-created rugs are in high demand in the United States, despite the fact that most of the creations suggest the oppressive nature of the country.
Afghan rugs have traditionally depicted flowers, streams, and mountains. However, in a classic example of art depicting real life, the Afghani weavers have taken to weaving the scenes that have become all too familiar – aerial assault planes and ground attack vehicles, apart from events that altered the very course of history and their topography.
Afghanistan is a country of turmoil. With the Taliban ruling the majority of the regions with an iron fist and the Americans trying to annihilate them, Afghanistan has become a war-torn country with the wounds being all-too-visible. The once-serene countryside is routinely devastated with unmanned aerial drones and bomber planes reigning fire from the sky. When the Mujahedeen were fighting back the Soviet occupation, local weavers abandoned flowers and water jugs to illustrate what their days consisted of back then: war.
The tradition has clearly continued into modern times, with guns and tanks being replaced by drones, helicopters, hand grenades, and bazookas, shared 49-year-old U.S. entrepreneur Kevin Sudeith, who discovered the rugs, and more importantly, their demand in the western countries. Having stumbled upon such a rug depicting war, in the house of an Italian architect, Sudeith initially started collecting them and later trading them for a handsome profit.
Despite depicting war, mayhem, and suffering, the Afghan rugs are still handmade. These rugs take about 18 to 24 months each, as the weavers painstakingly weave each thread to perfection. Needless to say, such custom-made rugs are in high demand and can go for anywhere between a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the intricacy and the quality.
Ironically, after the 9/11, Sudeith was rightly concerned about the demand plummeting, but the opposite has happened. A renewed interest in Afghanistan pushed the orders up, especially following the arrival on the market of a new set of rugs depicting the attacks on the World Trade Center. More rugs produced in that period featured F16 fighter jets, Abrams tanks, and maps of Bora Bora, confirming that the iconography of Soviet occupation had been replaced by that of the United States military.
Unsurprisingly, many who own these rugs are completely oblivious to the suffering of the original Afghan weaver who wove the rug while being under a constant state of fear. Western collectors and dealers only deal with intermediaries, so it’s difficult to verify who actually makes the rugs, and under what circumstances, shared Sudeith.
But what’s surprising is that a lot of weavers are technologically savvy, explained Sudeith.
“If I write a blog post about a particular rug, eighteen months later contemporary, handmade versions of it will appear.”
Considering the escalated use of attack drones by the Americans in the region, such Afghan rugs might soon be made in large numbers.
[Image Credit | Kevin Sudeith/Warrug.com]