Afghanistan means war. When it comes to everything. Not enough with every kid there being capable of assembling any weapon you can imagine lickety-split. We’ve already told you about that in our Guide to Travel, right? But, seriously, forget about traumata management by means of expressionist art (you know, like Georg Grosz and the likes), because it's not like people don't already know that the Mujahideen literally weave their wars into their culture. School doesn't start for another couple weeks but let's prepare with a refresher on these carpet bombs.
The history of war carpets started in the 70s, but no one can really tell in a country where most people don’t even know for sure how old they are. It started soon after the longhaired hippies lit their last hash pipes and escaped to Goa to make room for the Soviets, who in return started blowing up the whole country.
Apparently back then there was a thing like the “Afghan Art Scene” all revolving around Amanullah Haiderzad who currently holds the position of being Afghanistan’s highest ranking “Advisor of Arts” under Hamid Karsai—whatever this fantasy title is supposed to mean in a country where things like a proper infrastructure, water, peace, or education are only rudimentarily existent at best. In 1980 the sculptor escaped to Peshawar, Pakistan, via Khyber Pass with a bunch of his students from Kabul Art School. He encouraged his students to help the other refugees to channel their traumas into artwork.
Over time and the different wars, this form of therapy established itself and became its own kind of business and widely accepted handicraft. Even though the war carpets have exist for only slightly more than a quarter of a century, there are three different distinguishable eras.
The first carpets were made in the Soviet era. After the Soviet troops left the country in 1989 a lot of carpets with martyr motifs emerged, which can be associated with the Mujahideen’s battle for power and their consequent reign. During the Taliban regime people didn’t make a lot of new carpets because frankly, just enjoying a bunch of different colors would make you ripe for a stoning.
The third era of war carpets started with 9/11, the NATO bombings, and Karsai’s rule. Ever since, these carpets have been a huge Afghanistan export, though opium still obviously rules. The ISAF soldiers are constantly hauling huge bundles out of the country to hawk them on eBay. Here are our favorites:
This pretty much equals the Magna Carta of the Hindu Kush war. This carpet is one of the oldest and shows the attack on the castle during the 1978 putsch in Kabul.
Now this is a classic, displaying the entire arsenal of the Russian machinery of war during the 80s, ranging from Soviet BMTs and AKs to RPGs. Timeless design makes this the perfect padding for some alone time with your RAF-bitch in front of the fireplace.
This carpet sports an AK with orange magazine that was exclusively used by Russian Special Forces. Very rare, very expensive.
The postmodern art of war weaving.
The central alignment of the aircraft-carrier implies the US’s guilt in not only the war, but also the 9/11 attacks. But I’m still confused and don’t really get the connection of the “Msle” with that peace dove. Ideas anybody?
Ahmad Shah Massoud—now that one is especially pretty because you can still tell the beauty of each and every single pixel in the original digital photo.