Modern warfare came to Afghanistan with the Soviet invasion of 1979. After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, civil war piled disaster on top of calamity. Now the global war on terror continues in the country.

The fear of bombs falling from the sky and landmines exploding from the earth is revealed in Battleground: War Rugs from Afghanistan. Afghans have borne witness to decades of turmoil by weaving unprecedented images of battle and weaponry into their traditional rugs. Weavers depict what they see around them.

In this era of chaos, customary flower motifs have transformed into bullets, landmines, or grenades. Birds become helicopters and fighter jets, sheep and horses, tanks. Landscapes now include guns and troop carriers.

Are the war rugs pro-war or anti-war? Whose side are they on? The meaning of a particular rug is unclear when its history is hidden and its makers unknown. Taken together, these sometimes subtle, sometimes apocalyptic objects are eloquent, anonymous documents of a world turned upside down.

This exhibition is organized and circulated by the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto.