April 30 through July 31, 2011
The rug weavers of Afghanistan, long renowned for their artistry, depict on their rugs the world that they see. Like television news, their rugs “report” current events. Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and throughout more than three decades of international and civil war, Afghan weavers have borne witness to disaster by weaving unprecedented images of battle and weaponry into their rugs. Flowers have turned into bullets, landmines, and hand grenades.
Birds have turned into helicopters and fighter jets. Sheep and horses have turned into tanks. These are the images on a new and electrifying kind of Oriental rug – the “war rugs” from Afghanistan. Dozens of Afghanistan “war rugs” woven since 1980 are featured in this traveling exhibition organized by the Textile Museum of Canada, curated by Max Allen, and making its U.S. debut at the Penn Museum.
In the News
May 3, 2011 - Newsworks.org
War-weary Afghans weave threads of violence into rugs
By Peter Crimmins
Afghanistan has a tradition of weaving rugs that goes back thousands of years. On the tables of tribal leaders and under the knees of humble farmers in prayer, the rugs show birds, flowers, and sheep... Read more
On the Penn Museum Blog
Penn Museum Deputy Director Brian Rose was invited to Afghanistan by the American Embassy to consult on the state of cultural preservation. On day one of his trip, he noted:
"One sees the effects of decades of war in most parts of town—some Afghans even refer to it as the Thirty Years War, beginning with the Soviet invasion in 1978… But there is nevertheless a great sense of hope for the future wherever one looks."
Penn Museum gratefully acknowledges the following donors, whose generous support made possible the presentation of Battleground: War Rugs of Afghanistan: ARZU STUDIO HOPE, Connie K. Duckworth, Founder & CEO and an anonymous donor.