Afghan War Rugs

The Modern Art of Central Asia

August 21–October 16, 2016 in the Grand Gallery

22-WarRug-webThis exhibition brings to the United States, for the first time, examples from distinguished private collections of Afghan war rugs. The artists who wove them, mostly women, abandoned their traditional nonfigurative styles to produce rich pictorial images that recount a more current cultural story. Maps, weapons, army tanks, and portraits of kings, khans, and military leaders are among the new motifs that began appearing in otherwise traditional carpets in the 1970s and proliferated after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and again following the post-September 11 intervention by the United States.

The 42 rugs in the show were selected for their exceptional quality, rarity, and content. They can be enjoyed as both avant-garde textiles and as decorative works reflecting the modernization of tradition over 1,000 years old. The wealth of associations these rugs have with history, politics, culture, religion, and the increasing globalization of world trade offer myriad possibilities for interpretation. They represent an encounter of a timeless aesthetic tradition with the violent reality of contemporary central Asia.

This exhibition is offered concurrently with War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Renewal by Binh Danh and Robert Schultz.

Afghan War RugsWar Rugs Exhibition Brochure – open PDF
Publication designed by Ravance Lanier

Related Programs:
Afghan War Rugs Talk with Annemarie Sawkins
Sunday, August 21, 2016 | 2 to 3 pm | included with museum admission
Join Annemarie Sawkins, co-curator of Afghan War Rugs, for a gallery talk in the exhibition. Meet in the Grand Gallery.

War Memoranda: Conversation with Binh Danh + Robert Schultz
Sunday, September 25 | 2 to 3 pm | included with museum admission
Danh and Schultz point to the question explored in common by the two exhibitions, namely, “How do we remember war?”

Pictured: Afghanistan, Portrait Rug: Amanullah Khan with Weapons. Knotted wool.

Curated by Enrico Mascelloni and Annemarie Sawkins, PhD.

Sponsored by the Gallery Council of the Memorial Art Gallery, with additional support from the Robert A. and Maureen S. Dobies Endowment Fund, the Margaret Davis Friedlich and Alan and Sylvia Davis Memorial Fund, and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Fund.