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The Patterned World

Emphasis

Rug Zoomify

On a textile picture plane, several devices point the way to the important elements of the story. A border acts as a frame that encloses the action and focuses the viewer’s vision. Within the frame, certain elements may be disproportionate to others in an attempt to express different meanings. Qualities such as colour contrast also highlight the message or story that the textile is trying to convey.

About the Object

Object name: Rug
Place made: Afghanistan
Date made: 1990-2007
Dimensions: 72 x 96 cm
Materials & Techniques: Wool and cotton, woven in knotted pile
Credit line: Gift of Max Allen
ID: T2008.1.56

This rug from Afghanistan depicts four land-mine victims – three adults and one child – with their arms and legs destroyed, displayed against a blood-red map of Afghanistan. This rug, and many just like it, emerged from a part of the world that has experienced catastrophic war since the Soviet invasion of 1979.

Alternative Views

Back

Back

Oblique

Oblique

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Second Look

Macro

Macro

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Touchpoint View

Animation

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Image

Carpet Beetles

Some of the worst damage a textile can sustain is caused by insects such as the dermestid beetle, or carpet beetle. The damage inflicted by the larvae (not the adult) is not reversible – once the wool is eaten, it is gone. In a home, an infested textile can be vacuumed and put into a freezer for a few weeks, but an institution with a large collection has a more serious problem. Dermestid beetles can easily become dormant at the egg or larval stage and reactivate when conditions improve. Certain varieties play an important environmental role: they feed upon carrion (dead flesh) and are thus responsible for huge quantities of natural cleanup.

Carpet Beetle Larva

Carpet Beetles

Image title: Carpet Beetle Larva
Credit: Image Courtesy of Albert de Wilde

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Audio Clip

The Message in the Carpet

Listen to Max Allen talk about Afghan war rugs

Credit: Audio Produced by TMC

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Transcript

This rug is kind of a television documentary of landmines in Afghanistan. It, like a television documentary, it shows what happens. The red figure is a map of Afghanistan and on top of that map there are four people and a big helicopter. Each of the people, you’ll notice, has been injured in some way. Either they’ve lost an arm, or a leg, or a foot, or something and all of that is a result of having stepped on or handled landmines which the Soviets dropped by the millions during their occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. They dropped the landmines mostly from helicopters and that’s why there’s a big helicopter in the middle of this scene. So, what’s the message of this rug? Mostly the rug is just a report. Somebody’s family probably was injured by landmines and they simply wanted you to know that. Whether…which side of the war it’s on is an open question. Is it pro war or anti war? I would say anti war because injury is shown here. The misery and the horror of war are visible in this rug.

Artifact Narrative

Changing Scales for Emphasis

On this embroidered cover, two hands symbolizing “Hand of Fatima” (the daughter of Mohammed) are raised to shield a building, perhaps a mosque. The size of the hands is much larger than the pieces of architecture, emphasizing their symbolic importance as protection. Emphasis in a design is achieved through placement, contrast or size, and always marks a special attention or importance given to an element in an artwork. On the Afghan war rug, the people are the emphasis – their size dwarfs not only the helicopters, but the entire map of the country.

Cover

Cover

Place made: Afghanistan
Date made: 1950-1980
Dimensions: 40 x 43 cm
Materials & Techniques: Cotton and silk, plain woven and embroidered
Credits: Gift of Max Allen
ID: T04.2.1

Collection Connections

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ID*: T2008.1.10

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ID*: T2008.1.13

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ID*: T2008.1.66