Persian And Oriental Rugs: Explaining Chemical Dyes


The wool used in weaving of Persian carpets and Oriental rugs is generally dyes by either natural (vegetal) or chemical (artificial) substances. Each has its advantages as well as its serious drawbacks. It is believed that chemical dyes are not properly stable against the washing process of the wool and even the natural light. However, there is a relatively small group of chemical dyes which are incapable of withstanding theses factors. As chemical dyes began to be used in coloring of the wool within the rug industry, this same small group of dyes found their way to the market, resulting in such a negative reputation. Future quality improvements of chemical dyes failed to change the general conception about them. The fact is that not all natural dyes are strongly resistant against wash and light either. However, this does not diminish their popularity as natural dyes are used within the textile industry of many European countries.

Bottles of Chemical Dyes

Bottles of Chemical Dyes

As a result of higher demand for Persian and Oriental rugs in Western markets, a group of lower quality rugs emerged. However, this is not to be blamed solely on the improper use of inferior chemical dyes. In anticipation of higher profits, many producers began to use fibers other than natural wool, not suitable for hand-knotted rugs. These fibers, of course, would not absorb either natural or chemical dyes properly. The fact is that chemical dyes, as opposed to  natural dyes, are less expensive to work with, are more readily available, and more often produce the exact desired colors. Perhaps, it would be interesting to learn a bit more about them.

Some technical information is displayed on the packages of chemical dyes produced by so many different companies throughout the world today. Understanding this data would help dyers achieve better results and avoid surprises. The strength and other properties of dyes are displayed by numbers, letters, and symbols that appear next to their commercial or brand name. For example the letter “S” indicates standard strength for the dye, the letter “B” means more blue, “G” is more green, and “R” means more red. Take a look at the two following name tags for chemical dyes as a sample:

Durazol Blue 2R 200

Chlorazol Fast Scharlet 4B 150

In the first one, which is a blue color, “2R” shows that it has a bit of red in it resulting in a type of purple color and the number 200 means it has a strength twice the standard. For the second brand name, “4B” means our dye has hues of blue color in it and the number 150 shows a strength of 1.5 times the standard. Also, the abbreviation “M.P.” means the dye is a micro powder, and “F.P.” shows it is a fine paste.

Within any given rug, harmony is achieved by colors, and by colors alone. The wool piles of Persian carpets and Oriental area rugs, whether dyed by vegetal plants or high quality chemical dyes, have a bright and rich look at first, but will become softer and more mellow as they get walked on everyday and grow older by time. Inferior quality of synthetic (chemical) dyes do not look vary charming to begin with, and get even worse as the rug is used and walked on. At any rate, with good quality chemical dyes, it is possible to achieve stunning results that would be both durable and pleasant to look at.

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