Forgive me. Trying to fit Afghan war art into a western canon of art history sometimes results in jokes at our own expense. Putting “our” art history to one side, this is a detail of one of the few Afghan “war carpets” I have seen that could be said to represent the outsider symbolically. Images of snakes and dragons are a common way of representing the evil Other in the pictorial carpet tradition. And given that the word “Omar” is written in Roman script (that is, not in Dari or Pashtun) one could say that it is meant for the outside world to take heed… Let me just tweak the colours a bit so you can read the letters on the cuff…

The disembodied hand itself is not new. Precursors exist in the propaganda posters of the 1980s, and subsequent carpets, representing the Soviet Union.

P.S. And, to bring  the metaphor into the present, Reuters reports (ex WikiLeaks):

“Cut off the head of the snake,” the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, quotes the king Abdullah¬† as saying during a meeting with General David Petraeus in April 2008.


#1 jonathan on 11.23.10 at 9:50 am

something closer to home…

#2 worlds in collision « on 05.22.12 at 1:50 pm

[…] I started to think about the symbolism of the authoritarian hand here… Share this:ShareEmailPrintFacebookTwitterStumbleUponLike this:LikeOne blogger likes this […]

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