The knotted carpet is the oldest form of digital art. While a good likeness is hard to achieve when the medium is inherently pixelated, a “portrait” such as this may serve many causes.
The text above these three figures is not easy to translate. However this triple portrait is said to be of the turn-of-century King, Habibullah Khan, and his two successors, his brother Nasrullah Khan (who ruled for a week after his brother’s hunting accident assassination) and his third son Amanullah Khan, who lasted until 1929. Amanullah Khan is now revered as the moderniser who was responsible for disposing of the British in 1921.
Afghan carpet makers still produce images of Amanullah, now updated with modern militaria to reference the current conflict. Such imagery serves as an evocation of a more peaceful past, as history morphs into allegory, and as the roles of historical figures become mythologised.