Afghan rugs are oriental rugs traditionally produced in Afghanistan. Some Afghan rugs may be produced by refugees in Pakistan or Iran. Their rich colors are produced through the use of vegetable and other natural dyes. Afghani handmade rugs are typical medium sized area rugs and can be broken down into distinct styles.
Shindad and Adraskan rugs are named after the towns in which they are produced. They are considered to be among the most exotic of oriental rugs, depicting people and animals in a stretched or elongated form. The pattern is distinctive to this area of the Herat district. They are very popular among the Afghan people and are sold throughout the country.
Afghanistan is also a major producer of Baluchi rugs and their prayer mats are highly desired. These mats are woven in a directional pattern with a niche at the top. They are meant to point toward Mecca. Baluchi rugs are darker in color often using repeating geometric patterns, tree of life motifs and diamond latch hook medallions.
Bokhara, or Turkmen rugs, are wool rugs with bright colors produced by vegetable or other natural dyes. These rugs are famous for their octagonal elephant print design and often have a red or tan background. Knock-offs of these rugs are being produced in Pakistan and Iran but can be identified by the inclusion of cotton in the warps and wefts.
A modern carpet style in Afghanistan is the war rug. Since the Soviet occupation in 1979, Carpet makers have woven in patterns depicting soldiers and various war equipment. This style has continued through today, now depicting the United States battling with the Taliban. These carpets may also be referred to as Baluch(i) rugs as a generic name. They differ greatly from the original style of Baluchi rugs however, being more pictorial than symbolic.
Tribes with a nomadic nature often make Afghan rugs making the carpets more of a utilitarian design than merely decorative. The weave may be more noticeably coarse than other oriental carpets. These rugs have been given a bad name by dealers in the past but deserve a place in the home. As functional works of art, they offer complimentary use as chair backings and other creative d cor. Nomadic weavers were also known to create saddle bags which could be used as purses or to house laptops.