The colors of the genuine oriental carpets find their origin from the plants, natural minerals, and animals. Hence, these colors are termed as natural colors. From plants, sources like indigo, saffron and henna leaves provide colors. The juice of magenta snail, blood as well as insects, are used in animals category to derive colors for the carpets. Minerals like copper vitriol, ferric oxide, and iron vitriol are used to extract colors for the genuine carpets too.
However, in the ear 1826 when aniline dye was invented, newer methods came up for manufacturing colored carpets. In Europe, the color industry manufactured a better-quality version of this dye, and hence, aniline dye was used alongside natural colors in the East.
Over the years, the dye has displaced the use of natural dyes. This is because there has been a significant increase in the demand for oriental carpets, especially in the past four decades. Therefore, manufacturing oriental carpets by using natural dyes has become an expensive affair. One can’t rely on the natural colors for catering to this big demand. These natural colors are used only by nomads these days for the carpets. The antique varieties of carpets also utilize natural colors only.
- The coloring procedure
- Wool is first cooked in water for about 30 minutes.
- 3% caustic solution (soda or soap) is also added to it for cleaning and degreasing purposes.
- After this, it is put into an alum bath for 12 hours.
- After this procedure is completed, the wool is again either dipped in a new alum bath for another 12 hours or; it is cooked for 60 minutes more in the same bath. This helps
in making the wool for the carpet color substance receptive.
- A color bath is then prepared with the powder made of the natural colors, and the wool is cooked in it for about 30 minutes.
- Next, this wool is made to cook in the juice of lemon and unripe wine grapes for about 60 minutes.
- Once cooked, it is made to cool off in the tank for about 12 hours. However, this cooling off time varies according to the type of wool and the colors being used.
- To finish it up, the colored wool is rinsed off in the flowing water and then dried in the sun or the penumbra.
The ink utilized in the coloring process is not trivial. Hence, large quantities might be required. Example, 1 kg of coloration might be required for about 4kg of wool. The result of ink coloration will vary according to the hardness of water as well as wool quality.
- Symbolism of colors
Nomads generally make use of the colors that are available to them easily. However, as per the lifestyles of the tribes, only a mere quantity of wool can be dyed with limited coloration substance. This results in the irregular color intensity of the carpet. Thus, this irregularity in the forms of lines or other textures is called ‘Abrash.’ These deviations actually look lovely if they do not arise glaringly.