This page shows Afghan war rugs broken down by Style. Please, click a link to see examples of war rugs of that particular style.

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Landscape Pictorial War Rugs
Pictorial style rugs are usually landscapes with a city or town as the subject.

Ten Tank War Rugs
A Pakistani vendor told me that ""10 Tank"" style rugs come from Mazar-e Sharif. They are typified by two columns of tanks in a ""guns up"" formation. When the Soviets retreated their tanks were in this non-aggressive formation. These rugs celebrate the Afghans victory over the Soviets. ""10 Tank"" rugs are also interesting because they show the war motifs becoming abstracted from the more realistic earlier rugs. The tanks are shifting away from a naturalistic depiction towards a gul like form found in traditional rugs from this region.

Small Floral Medallion War Rugs
This style of rug features a series of small medallions which run down the center of the rug. The medallions are usually six to ten inches in diameter and are made up of a series of concentric rings of different colors. These medallions often have floral motifs emanating from them. The rest of the field can be filled with any number of motifs like plants, animals, and abstract designs.

Soviet Exodus
Map style rugs obviously feature a map. My thesis for the origin of this style of rug is: Alighiero e Boetti, the Italian artist who died in 1994, had large scale map embroideries fabricated in the 1970s and 1980s in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the weavers absorbed his vocabulary and used it in their own weavings. This thesis will be presented in more detail here on warrug.com soon.

Geometric Medallion War Rugs
This style of rug features large solid medallions with a clear outline usually in a diamond shape. These rugs usually have three medallions one on top of the other running the length of the rug. The sides of the medallions stretch almost all the way to the side borders of the rugs.

Amman Ullah Khan War Rugs
Ammanullah Khan reigned in Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929. He was credited with finally driving the English out of Afghanistan with the third Anglo-Afghan war. Wikipedia entry

Two Ewer War Rugs (Golden Border)
This style is sometimes called ""Zakini Baluch."" The rugs feature two ewers sitting on a table in addition to an array of other images like vases of flowers and plant forms. The ewers supposedly symbolize the Muslim virtue of cleanliness before prayer. One washes oneself with water from the ewers to become ritualistically clean.

F16 - Before September 11, 2001
Only a few of these rugs have passed though our hands but they are very interesting. They feature rows of weapons including jet fighters which sometimes have ""F-16"" written on the bottom. These rugs were first seen in mid 1999 with the ""F-16"" writing.

Bomber / Helicopter / Tank War Rugs
We saw many of these rugs in 2000. The primary motifs are simple bombers, fat cargo helicopters and stylized tanks accented with trucks and floral motifs. They were often very dusty with mud on the back. Some tribal weavers cake the back of rugs with mud while weaving to set the knots in place.

Baghlani War Rugs
Beautiful rugs. Sometimes wool warp, sometimes cotton. These often have navy blue fields that have faded to black. The pile tips brown slightly and the net effect is black. These rugs have short and very dense pile that is very evenly clipped. Helicopters appear to have skis and armored personnel carriers are common.

Diamond Herati (Lozenge Field with ""+"" Shaped Medallion""
This style is important because it sometimes employs the ""fish"" from the classic Herati or Fish Pattern. This style features an elongated medallion shaped like a pointy lozenge. These are usually very fine quality with good wool, depressed warp, high knot counts and beautiful designs.
This style breaks into two sub styles. One features a geometric lozenge with a jagged multi-lined edge, while the other sub style feature a lozenge with plant forms sticking out horizontally which look like half peeled bananas.

8 Lobed Baluch Medalion War Rugs
Some Baluch rugs have a distinct 8 lobed medallion with a complicated linear outline. Sometimes the medallions are tightly closed and other times the edge is diffuse.

Red Turkman with Kalashnikovs War Rugs
Formerly the most common style of war rug, supplies have been limited in 2002 and 2003. Kalashnikovs on sides with miscellaneous weapons throughout the fields. Almost all have exclusively weapons, no floral, geometric or figurative motifs.

Chechen War Rugs
Chechens are commercial Kazak patterns woven with a Turkman structure in Pakistan. Occasionally a weaver sneaks in some weaponry giving us the odd war rugs. Heavy duty rugs. Hard wearing with fully depressed warp usually. Attractive patterns whose best parts are the freeform secondary motifs.

Rows of Weapons War Rugs
This is an indistinct style which features rugs whose primary motif is weaponry laid out in rows. Baghlanis would fall into this style if they did not form a group of their own.

Kazak War Rugs
Very rare to find war motifs in these rugs. These are very high quality commercial rugs coming from Pakistan. They feature Kazak and Caucasian designs woven with the traditional structure; symmetrical knot, no warp depression, short pile, wide singles.

Golden Border War Rugs
This is an interesting group since it often features women in burkas.
These rugs have a light border usually containing tanks with guns up and highly stylized helicopters as well as secondary motifs of grenades and rifles. The field may contain figures which look very much like airplanes except they often feature eyes and less often a mouth.

Hunting War Rugs
The hunting style combines the very traditional and collectable hunting rug with war motifs. The war motifs may be very understated with maybe just a few helicopters or grenades.

Prayer War Rugs
Prayer format war rug. Very rare.

Pixilated War Rugs
These rugs are the most aggressive designs. They feature weapons mashed together and drawn with a very pixilated line. The line gives a jagged and harsh feel to the drawing which is well suited to the subject matter.

AK-47 White Field War Rugs
Some of these rugs may have been made in Iran. Typically they feature one AK-47 with other mechanized armor laid out throughout the field. They often feature poppies as well.

Car Style War Rugs
This style needs to be broken into two styles. The rugs it originally encompassed featured cars as well as other motifs, most noticeably helicopters with a concentric lines pattern on the tail. They are typically very soft and fine wool.

Vegetable Dye War Rugs
Most vegetable dye rugs are limited production rugs coming from commercial enterprises in Pakistan. Quality can be quite good with hand spun yarn.

Kul Mohammedi War Rugs
We have only seen one rug of this style, and it is a real gem. Super quality. Great color. Nice size.

Flat Weaves
Rugs with out pile. These rugs have a different vocabulary of motifs. They are nice accents to a collection.

American Weapon Red Rugs
New rugs featuring American weapons. These are going to be the new type. The ""Jet Fighter (Underside View)"" is a subset of this type, but the ""Jet Fighter (Underside View)"" existed before the war on terrorism brought American forces to Afghanistan and Pakistan. These rugs will make the Soviet era rugs a discreet group, relegated to a particular moment in history. It will be interesting to see how the patterns develop.

Unknown Style War Rugs
Misc. un-categorized styles

Vase of Flowers War Rugs
Feature one or many vases of flowers. Often top quality Beluch pieces.

Checkered Areas (two colored threads)
This type is defined by areas of pile where an area is filled with alternating colors; either from one knot to the next, or two colors of thread are spun into one yarn.

Banana Medallion War Rugs
This style is typified by a long lozenge shaped medallion with forms protruding laterally which look like half peeled bananas. The two we have seen with war rugs, are very nice quality.

World Trade Center Flag Banner War Rugs
This style has proven controversial. This type of rug was woven in Pakistan by Afghan refugees. After the U.S. took out the taliban these weavers were able to return to their traditional home in northern Afghanistan, particularly Sherberghan and Mazar-e Sharif.

Najibullah War Rugs Civil War
This style is a pattern dating to 1991-1993 when the Soviets installed a puppet government. The leader, here depicted with a hammer and sickle tattooed on his forehead, name was Dr. Najib (during the Soviet war) or Najibullah (before and after the Soviet war). He was eventually brutally killed by the taliban.

Tora Bora Large w/ Hand Spun
Rare style. Debut 2003. ""These rugs really show what we are getting at over there."" -U.S. Air Force Pilot

F-16 War On Terrorism Afghan War Rugs (Map and flag banner)
Latest iteration of earlier small yellow map rugs.

Pool and Mosque Pictorial Rugs
Pictorial rugs with a primary image of a Mosque with a reflecting pool.

All Over Fighter Jets War Rugs
This is a Zakini pattern with triangular jets filling the field.

Stylized Helicopters Beluch with Light Field and Small Floral Medallions
This design is something of a puzzle. Perhaps Chahar Aimaq or possible Chichtactu.

Horsemen War Rugs
This pattern of war rugs depict men with weapons on horseback.

Long Live US Soldiers War Rugs
2001, 2002 Production. Go USA!

Sea Knight Tora Bora War Rugs
Bruce from set us straight on helicopter model.

Ali Kwaja
Short pile, interesting designs. We were told by an Afghan friend that the town where these are woven no longer exists because of the war. Most of these seem to date from 1986-1989

Abstract WTC War Rugs
Small group available mid 2002

Rugs woven in workshops, mostly in Peshawar during the 1990s. Some workshop rugs now originate from Northern Afghanistan, woven by weavers who were refugees in Pakistan during the 1990s but returned to their Afghan homes after the Coalition drove the Taliban from power in 2001. Workshop rugs are different than tribal rugs which are usually woven at home.

Political Portraits
Photographic type portraits

Non War Rug
Mostly Baluchi Rugs of interest, without war motifs

Afghan Maps (not Yellow Psy-Ops)
Turkmen before Soviet Exodus or Baluchi Afghan Maps

ZPU-4 Prayer Rugs
Please see blog posts about this style

WTC War Rugs without Leaflet Banner
War Rugs showing the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. These rugs do not show the Afghan and American flags and white dove of peace

Ghazni Red Rugs with Map
Red rugs usually with wool foundations which employ excellent quality Ghazni wool

Yellow with Crossed AK's
Best Yellow Patter.

Triple Six Side Medallions
The medallions are generally outlined in with leafy line.

Kabul Landscapes

Four Panel Landscape (2X2)
Four views laid out in a two by two grid

Three Panel Landscape
One Scene broken into three panels, foreground (airport), middle ground, background

Paghman Lake Monuments
Amman Ullah Khan built these monuments to soldiers who died fighting the English.

Herat Mosque (Trees, Road, Arches)
Classic design

Scattered Flags Tora Bora Rug
No dove banner, but multinational flags scattered throughout field

British Flag Banner Tora Bora
Brit flag added to Afghan and US flags joined by white dove of Peace

Tower Landscape
Jam and others

Chechen Tora Bora
Small group of Tora Bora Rugs

Blue Red Rugs
Red Rugs but with blue fields

Ghazni Wool Red Rugs - Hand Spun
Small production of red rugs using hand spun Ghazni wool and wool foundations

White Red Rugs
Red Rugs but with white fields

Herat South View of Mosque
Looking north with Friday Mosque in middle ground and mountains in background

Tora Bora No Foreign Flags
No white dove flag banner or scattered flags

Unexploded Ordinance
Excellent rugs.

Mount Fuji Rug
Inexplicably, Afghan rugs depicting Japan

Two Panel (same twice)
The same image twice, top to bottom

Mythic Figure War Rugs
War Rugs showing mythic characters and stories

RPG Red Rug
My favorite red rug pattern because of its symmetry.

Figurative - Traditional Baluch Representation
Very old pictorial convention for drawing figures

Modern City Landscape
Mostly after 2001, urban, mechanized cities w/o specific war motifs

Iraq Rug - Uzbeki
Iraq war rugs, as of 2007 there have been three generations of this rug.

Mashad Influence Workshop
The people from this workshop clearly learned their trade in Mashad.

M16 Tora Bora
Similar patter to the Large Tora Bora Rugs with Hand Spun but the material and structure is totally different.

Beljik Rows of Weapons
Belgian style wool

Jacub Khani War Rugs
Traditional Baluchi Design meaning ""House of Jacob""

Mushwani War Rugs (not Amman Ullah Khan)
Small group of Pashto weavers working in Baluch like styles

Dokhtar I'Khazi
Traditional Afghan Baluchi design whose name means ""The Judges Daughter"", ostensibly the originator of the design.

Project Empowerment Rugs

One foot square rugs which were originally made to go beneath a old fashioned rotary phone. Some early examples had images of phones. Most Telephony rugs don't show arms, but the ones featured here all include rugs.

"Afghan Modern" Map War Rugs
As defined by Nigel Lendon as described in this paper. and this show.

Tree of Life Design
Not many war rugs feature the tree of life which is important and plentiful in antique rugs.

World Map Rugs
Influenced by the work of Alighiero e Boetti.