War on rugs: Afghan refugees in Pakistan weave drones, weapons on carpets

Following the Soviet occupation, Afghan rugs can be found with helicopters, hand grenades, Kalashnikovs woven on them

Web Desk January 30, 2015
Drones on rugs. PHOTO: WARRUG.COM

The 'art of war' isn't lost on Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

While the global popularity of Afghan carpets is unquestionable, in recent times, Afghan refugees have resorted to the art of weaving war-related items on exquisite rugs, ditching the traditional for the familiar, Quartz reports.


Kevin Sudeith, a 49-year-old US entrepreneur, discovered these rugs -- which have bazookas, tanks, helicopters, hand grenades and Kalashnikovs woven on them – in 1996 at an Italian architect’s house.

“My favourite one is an old Beluch style one,” Sudeith said.

“The design dates back to the 19th century but it has two helicopters and two tanks at each of the rug.”


After his discovery of these rugs, Sudeith began dealing in them. He’d sell them in flea markets and online as well, sometimes making up to thousands of dollars.

Initially, the Afghan weavers would design their rugs with patterns of water jugs or flowers. However, after the Soviet occupation, these weavers, to some extent, became war artists. They began to depict what they would be constantly surrounded with – war.

Later, when the Taliban were ousted from Afghanistan, these ‘war artists’ returned to their place of origin. However, the rugs made in Pakistan then became worth a king’s ransom – they were rare.

“These were the best years for business,” Sudeith said.


He was certain his business would go up in flames after the 9/11 incident but to his surprise, orders for the rugs increased.

The entrepreneur further stated that the weavers were becoming more perceptive in regard to the aesthetics that were in demand.

“If I write a blog post about a particular rug, eighteen months later, contemporary, handmade versions of it will appear,” he explained.

In December 2014, he put up images of drone-themed rugs which predictably sold for hundreds of dollars. This, he terms a “collaborative process”, with which he is linked to a family in residing Pakistan.


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