14 Jun FACTORS THAT DETERMINE RUG QUALITY – DYES
Like wool, rug dyes may vary considerably in quality and they may affect the value and desirability of the rug. Until the late 19th century, only natural dyes were used for colouring weaving yarns. Some are rich and saturated while others are soft. Some have a transparent quality that lets the colour shine in response to light. When combined with lustrous wool, transparent dyes make the colour effects come to life.
The traditional art of dyeing allows for the magnificent decorative effects seen in rugs. Family recipes for specific colours have been closely guarded and often passed down from generation to generation.
Natural dyes are primarily derived from vegetable materials although some, like lac or cochineal, are derived from insect shells. These vegetable materials mixed with water and the fibers are soaked for a long period. After soaking, the dyes must be ‘fixed’ with a ‘mordant’. This fixing might take weeks in order to achieve rich colours.
Madder root, saffron, pomegranate, walnuts, indigo and iron oxide are all used in the creation of natural dyes. Natural dyes are sourced from all over the globe with each cultural center having its own collection of regularly used materials. The colours used in older rugs are often indicators of its origin, they can thus help identify when and who made it.