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Woven Histories into Rugs

Being faithful to colour and design is one of the main responsibilities for the Afghan refugees, who weave the unique, yet striking Afghan Kazak rugs. Originally, the rugs were assembled by Turkmen (Turkic people located primarily in central Asia) and exported from Pakistan, however, now the duty seems to have been passed to the people of Pakistan since many raw materials for the process of rug making have been located on the edge of the country. 

A diverse range of cultures and artistic sensibilities have been demonstrated through the weaving of these rugs, with some drawing heavily on Persian influences, some displaying oriental styles, and others reflecting the unique war history of Afghanistan. The Afghan war rug (as shown in the image above), can contain helicopters, light weaponry, heavy artillery and tanks, to represent the weaponry and armoury that was used. Others may include animals and flowers.

At least two different types of carpet are created through the Afghan Kazak rug- the Turkmen carpets and the Baluch carpets. Dissimilarities between these two are purely from their position of origin within Afghanistan. Firstly, Baluch rugs are made in the province of Baluchistan, which borders south- east Kerman. This holds many Turkish tribes who have settled in this distinct region years ago to look after their herds. Although most of the rugs are made of Persian knots, they can also be differentiated between what they are made of, with Baluch rugs being created using camel hair. 

The Turkmen rugs are distinct due to their very high quality, and this makes the quality of wool used essential. It is necessary for it to be hard-wearing, strong and resistant. For this to be ensured, lots of the wool is vegetable-dyed. Most of the rugs that have been woven for export and that are to be transported have very tight knots to survive the trampling shoes from people walking over them. It can be argued that the main characteristics of these unique rugs is not only the decoration displayed on them, but also the colours used and lines within the pattern. The overall pattern must always be geometric and natural to the square grid, as well as always being implemented with straight lines. 

Colours that are chosen to be used are very much determined by the culture of the region and the tribe, and the year that they were woven. Most colours used tend to be deep red, black, grey, or white. However, as they become more modern, lighter colours such as yellow or gold are used. To create a finished look, they are washed, which reduces the deep colours. This look can also be achieved by the rug being aged.

In the past, these rugs have added a sense of luxury, finesse, warmth and comfort to homes. They were also a symbol of status and were placed in churches and homes of the elite class. They may often be hung from walls and placed on a throne, or at the feet of the King, to symbolise its importance. Rugs created from silk are called a ‘Royal Bokhara’, and indicates higher importance, although they are not an Afghan speciality.

Posted On: 24/07/2017

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