Antiques Dealers Association of America

True Colors

Author: Oriental Rugs, Ltd.
Published: Wed, Apr 8th, 2020

The color of an oriental carpet is one of its most compelling mysteries. Before the twentieth century, Oriental rugs reflected an uninterrupted cultural tradition going back thousands of years. Although the language of these designs remained faithful to its origins, there was tremendous range in the creation of motifs and color harmonies, making each carpet unique.

One of the major changes that occurred during the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century was the introduction of chemical dyestuffs. Although there was controversy about the use of aniline dyes, their use became widespread very quickly. Aniline dyes were considered damaging to the Oriental rug trade, and by 1900, the Shah of Persia had issued an edict prohibiting the importation, sale and use of aniline dyes. All items manufactured with these dyes were to be confiscated and destroyed. Unfortunately, even this harsh measure was not enough to end the use of this convenient new product. These were exciting new colors from a package! They eliminated the need to forage for plant stuffs with which to create color.

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