War Rug with Minaret Design

Baluch, Western Aghanistan (Afghan)
; Aimaq, Western Afghanistan (Afghan)
Circa 1980s
Work : 56 1/2 x 37 3/4 in. (1.4 m x 95.89 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
Object Number

The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan both had huge impacts on the nomadic and semi-nomadic cultures of Baluchistan. After these events, many nomads were no longer able to follow their traditional migration routes and were forced to settle down in towns or refugee camps. To earn the money they needed to survive, many formerly nomadic women—and some men—began weaving rugs and bags for the commercial market. Sometimes they followed the traditional forms and designs of their ethnic group or tribe, but other times they invented new forms and design motifs that reflected the changing circumstances in which they were living. The design of this rug, for example, features a famous minaret, or mosque tower, that is near the city of Herat in Western Afghanistan. The sky behind the minaret is filled with stylized images of fighter planes and helicopter gunships, while the ground around the tower is filled with stylized images of landmines and barbed wire. An inscription at the top of the rug in garbled Cyrillic letters suggests that the rug was made to sell to Russian soldiers as a souvenir of their time serving in Afghanistan. These so-called “war rugs” began as curiosities in the 1980s, but interest in them grew steadily during the 1990s and 2000s, especially after the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and today they constitute a distinct category of weavings in their own right. [Caleigh White '2020]

Object Type
Academic Themes
War and Peace