Updated with photo
The Anchoress links to a news story about Grayson Gile who, while serving in Afghanistan, befriended an elderly Hazara man who made a rug for President Bush as a thank you for his efforts bringing Democracy to Afghanistan.
While in the country, Gile got to know many of the natives. “We got to have quite a bit of interaction with the people of the host nation, probably more contact than most soldiers. It took time to establish a rapport with them, but once we established trust, we had friendships,” he said.
One of those friendships involved a Kabul rug merchant who pulled Gile aside before he left the country. The merchant told Gile the story of an elderly man, so overwhelmed with gratitude to the United States for its intervention in the conflict that he made a gift for President Bush – a gift that was a year in the making and made, given the conditions of the country, under penalty of death.
Gile was astonished when he saw the hand-knotted rug, a portrait of Bush, filled with Christian and Catholic symbolism. Filling the center of the rug is an incredible likeness of Bush, dressed in religious vestments, standing at a podium decorated with the official seal of the country and flanked by two waving American flags.
Directly above Bush is Jesus with a sacred heart and stigmata carefully knotted into the rug’s pattern. The rug also shows cherubs and, apparently in an homage to both Bush and a fallen Northern Alliance leader, two lions.
“(Ahmed Shah) Masood was often called ‘the Lion of Panjshir.’ As one of the country’s military leaders, he put some very, very heavy licks to the Soviets and then turned around and delivered the same to the Taliban,” Gile said. “He was assassinated two days before 9/11.”
One corner of the rug reads, “President George W. Bush,” while the opposing corner has the words, “Number one champion.”
Gile said he was impressed by the man’s efforts.
“For this man to sequester himself away for a year to hand knot this rug speaks highly of his gratitude,” he said. “And for an extraordinarily devout Muslim to have taken very strong Christian and Catholic symbology and incorporate them into the rug is amazing. He may come from a different religious culture, but he was respectful enough to do that, and that is very interesting and humbling.”
Mr. Gile has not yet been able to deliver his rug to President Bush, but he’s hoping local Republicans can help him fulfill his promise.