Have you ever wondered why Persian and Oriental Rugs are so expensive and highly prized? Much of it comes down to how these rugs are made. Weaving rugs is an ancient and complex art that has been passed down through the generations. Traditional woven and dyed rugs fetch thousands of dollars in today’s market due to the immense amount of work that goes into each and every handmade rug.
One of the most interesting aspects of these rugs is the dyeing of the wool. The dyes are all comprised of natural ingredients, with each different color coming from a different organic source. Here’s a quick chart:
|Red||Madder Root or Cochineal Beetles (for a more vivid red)|
|Yellow||Saffron and Turmeric|
|Green||Made by mixing Indigo and Yellow dye (though the Chinese would use a shrub called Rhamnus Chlorophorus)|
|Purple||Found in Shellfish|
|Black, Grey, Brown||Shells of nuts and husks of nut trees|
These ingredients are boiled in varying amounts of water, with less water yielding more vibrant colors and vice versa. After straining out any excess solids, the wool is added to the dye vat and heated with the dye for any desired amount of time. The wool soaks in the dye as it cools, making the color stay fast in the fabric. After it has been allowed to set for an appropriate amount of time, the wool is washed in cold water to get any excess color out.
This process takes a very long time, and that doesn’t even include the time it takes to weave the actual rug itself. Therefore, the price makes a little more sense. These rugs can be beautiful family heirlooms if cared for properly.
Since these rugs are handmade from natural dyes, they require a little bit more care than your average area rug. They should be kept away from sunlight, as the UV rays will fade the colors immensely and destroy your rug. When cleaning traditionally made rugs one should be very careful about what cleaning solutions they are using. Many modern cleaning solutions use harsh chemicals that can damage your rug’s coloring. Experts generally recommend getting professional rug cleaning services when dealing with expensive traditional rugs.
If you find yourself becoming an owner of a fine handmade Oriental or Persian rug, make sure to take good care of it. They are beautiful works of art and make a wonderful addition to any home. With proper care the vibrancy and richness of the natural dyes will remain for years to come.
To learn more about traditional rug dyeing practices check out this Wikipedia article about natural dyes.