Sometimes more often than abstract pieces of art, I've found that these Afghan war rugs understandably provoke even stronger reactions from observers who already have specific opinions about conflicts in the region.
These historical pieces originate from women in Afghanistan's Baluchi region who shed their traditional preference for weaving benign birds and flowers, opting instead for an indigenous modernism that depicts the violence they endured during the decade of Soviet occupation beginning in 1979. Many of these knotted wool rugs also celebrate the Soviets' eventual exit of Afghanistan in 1989.
Despite the controversial aspects of these pieces (though we've shown these war rugs to a few Afghans who were very delighted), I find them to be fascinating and unapologetic reminders of Afghanistan's tumultuous and oppressive historical experience at the hands of Westerners. I also doubt that the women who created these expected most viewers to be comfortably charmed by these pieces--they are clearly not meant to please everybody.