1050 and 194: Violence and Pragmatism: The Case of the World Trade Center Rugs

194 rst ever

194: First World Trade Center War Rug warrug.com Ever Received
Afghanistan, Turkmen Tribe, 2002
Two Cord Black Wool


1050: World Trade Center Rug with Red Planes
Afghanistan, Turkmen Tribe, 2002
Black wool overcast

Leaflet AFD 170 and AFD 189 

Possibly the most viscerally striking rug genre for an American audience, the World Trade Center pieces manage to overlay images of violence and peace in such a fashion as to make them nearly agents of American nationalism constructed on a foreign stage though meant for an American audience. The layout of the WTC rugs is overwhelmingly consistent.  The rugs contain one central story which utilizes overlapping imagery to convey layered ideas.

Much like the anti-Soviet rugs, the country of Afghanistan is depicted here in green. It serves as the base of the entire scene upon which American elements are placed. Of particular interest here is the use of the large scale image of the attack on the Twin Towers, in conjunction with the deployment of American forces from the sea, here represented by the aircraft carrier. The top layer of the entire scene includes a band with the U.S. and Afghan flags united by a dove. The image would ostensibly read as one of peace and the fact that it was woven by Afghans would seem to indicate an inherent local desire to further this aim; however, Sergeant Major H. Friedman and Kevin Sudeith have brought to light a very different origin for the imagery, namely American propaganda flyers (follow link to Leaflet AFD 170 and 189 above) which serve as the core structures for the rugs’ core elements. As a result, the images become less a statement of indigenous beliefs in unification and pro-American sentiment, and more a representation of American ideals and imagery for sale to an American audience.

This genre of rugs contains numerous examples and their production and sale began in 2002; however, in recent years they have become increasingly hard to find according to Kevin Sudeith.

By Alicia Cunningham-Bryant