Natural Rug Dyes
We have seen that one of the ‘revolutionary’ aspects of modern rug production has been the return natural dyes.
Not long ago, shoppers who were interested in new rugs had no choice but to buy rugs with synthetic dyes. Today, though, natural dyes are an option in new rugs and, in fact, you will have to decide between natural and synthetic if you buy one. The choice in important because, aside from everything else, natural-dyed rugs cost roughly 30 percent more than synthetic-dyed rugs.
Lets look closely at synthetic and natural dyes and how they compare.
You will find that I use several words for natural dyes” ‘natural’, ‘vegetal’, and ‘vegetable’.’Vegetal’ and ‘vegetable’ are slightly misleading because one natural dye, cochineal , is made from an insect and is not a vegetable at all. Once a manufacturer of Turkish kilims said that she makes her rugs from organic dyes. This is incorrect because organic refers to any material that is carbon-based.
Rugmakers of the Middle East and Asia have used natural dyes for thousands of years.
In the classic model, weaving is done most often by the women and dyeing is most often by the men. In some important rig-weaving areas of the Middle East, dyers make reds from dried, ground madder root and (less often) from cochineal, blues from indigo, yellow from weld, green from sequential dying in indigo and weld, brown from camel and walnut husks, other colors from many other vegetable materials from which dyes are made.
Source: Oriental Rugs Today by Emmet Eiland