Saturday, September 13, 2008

Jogging Memory Lane

'So cheat your landlord if you must, but do not try to shortchange the MUSE.  it cannot be done.  you can't fake quality.'  William Burroughs

Back in the 50's and early 60's I had an uncle and aunt who lived in Afghanistan. My uncle was with the Army Corp of Engineers but I have no idea what exactly his project was while living there, but I do know that they loved it and their two daughters loved it, though they both came back to the states to attend college during their tenure. I coveted my cousin's Afghani coat- a leather affair with huge floppy fur collar and cuffs and embroidery up the front. Instead of that extravagance, my hippie self adopted an Afghani wool hat in spite of it being too small for my non-Afghani head and causing amazing headaches when worn. (It was a felted wool that was shaped like a bucket when the brim was unrolled- you can see it on any Afghani guy filmed in the mountains, usually with a rifle, or in my closet on the top shelf. It's not getting much duty here now that I am a winter refugee.)

As usual I digress. One of the things I really loved was a small rug that somehow migrated into my life from Afghanistan, an oriental style, hand woven with imagery of tanks and airplanes which I thought an odd choice of subject. At the same time I noticed that a few Navajo rugs that my mom had from her childhood in Colorado contained planes and trains- certainly not traditional designs. She also had one 2' square rug with playing card suites on them that I gravitated to for it's graphic quality. This was one of the reasons I wanted to weave- to portray what was happening around me, but I didn't quite put this together for years. Today I found this website about
War Rugs that explains and shows some amazing examples, including a few portraying the twin towers with planes hitting them from both sides.

There is also now a book about War Rugs which I must see. Along with the more traditional designs, please note the helicopters at the top in the cover illustration!


I don't know where I am going with this, just a slice of a past thought process! I stopped weaving back in the late '70's because it took too much time in large chunks, which I didn't have. And at that point I also discovered quilting and it was simpler to tell my stories with that medium because I could see the front of what I was doing. Now I am going to call my son and see if he still has the Navajo saddle blankets that my grandfather used, as well as the pillow tops I made from the trade blankets. I hope so, and I will tell him their stories again just so they aren't forgotten.  I don't know what happened to the rug from Afghanistan- it was blue and I am not a fan, so I must have given it away.  Maybe the tanks were off-putting.

'When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him.'  Thomas Szasz

1 comment :

ellen said...

i saw story cloths made by Hmong women when i lived in Ohio. they also contained images of war. and, i understand that some of the Mola made in Central America have elements of modern life.

thanks for reminding me of this. i'm going to look at more of this art.

ellen