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History of Rugs

A Gutenberg book says:

The aniline dyes are more commonly used through Asia Minor and, to some extent, in the Caucasus and even in Persia. In 1903 a law was enacted by the Persian government forbidding the importation of chemical dyes and seizing and destroying all fabrics in which they were used. It was also decreed that a dyer found guilty of using them would have his right hand cut off. The [Pg. 78]government has never been very strict in enforcing this law, else there would be at the present time many one-handed men in Persia.

As there is no such law in Asia Minor, fully seventy-five per cent. of the rugs now imported from that country are aniline dyed. The Kurdistan, Khorasan, and Kirman products, as well as those made by the Nomads in the Fars district of Persia, have been particularly free from outside influences and as a rule are honestly dyed.

The nomadic life of the Kurds in former times enabled them to gather plants more easily and so they were able to obtain good vegetable dyes. Now that they do not roam as much the result is, less vegetable and more aniline dyes. Formerly also, the best wool only was used by the Kurds for the making of rugs and the women chose only that which they knew would take the colors well. Now the men sell the best part of the wool and the women use what is left and press aniline dyes into service to hide any possible defect.

Some of the coal tar products will resist light, water, and air even better than many of the vegetable pigments, but the former have a tendency to make the wool fibres more brittle so that they break easily, while the latter preserve the wool and lengthen the life of the fabric.

[Pg. 79]

Each nation uses to a large extent its favorite color, thus the Persian is partial to the dark greens and yellows, the Turk to the reds, and the Armenian to the blues. Asia Minor and Persia being countries of intense sunshine, in which the colors of the sky and land are most pronounced, the neutral tints and hues make little impression on such surroundings and are therefore little used. All the rug making people use more or less yellow, blue, orange, red, ruby, and green, excepting the Turk, who regards the latter as a sacred color and not to be trodden on. He therefore seldom uses it in any but those of the prayer design.

  • Saks Afridi is good, but the other rug designers in this article on avant garde prayer rugs are losers. Here is one of his good rugs, from his website. Mr. Afridi is imaginative, and though he usually misses the mark, he has some good hits too.

Individual Rugs