Natural colours and dyes


Colours in ancient and old carpets have got a warmth, intensity and balance which are unique and typical of this art, and they are even more meaningful of the drawing. Their singular charm is given by natural dyes, vegetal and mineral, and by the irregular thickness of the yarn which absorbs the colour and reflects light in a uneven way. 

Every knot of the same colour has got different gradations, even if minimum, which give a certain charm, a moderated vivacity and a continue vibrating feeling. Contrasts are thefore always quiet even if clear, put in order not to ever neutralize medium tones. By this way even a carpet with limited polychromy seems to have a great amount of colours.

Then synthetic dyes, beyond their effective qualities, deeply and equally penetrating the machine wired wool, with equal thickness, result flat and cold, often  characterized by clear and unpleasant contrasts. Carpets producted by nomad groups or people living in small towns have got a chromatic array generally arranged with just primary colours and restricted to the available dyes in the surrounding area, coming from the knowledge of the colour art passed on from mother to daughter or from the ability of the town's dyer, who was often the only custodian of the secrets for the most complex colours.

The colour array was much richer within town's manufactures, which had a copious specialized manpower and above all a huge amount of imported dyes, or found in very far places. In ancient times dyers was a separated class and were grouped in very close corporations. Their art had probably to appear as a mix of ability and magic, an alchimistic miracle and not a chemical process.

The misteries of this art, passed on from father to son and jealously kept, are dead with them. They were mostly Jews, which thanks to their independent position compared to the islamic society were much more free and ready to experiences and travels, and so had the chance of finding new substances and learning new secrets. The specialization between the town dyer, capable of creating various colours, and the city dyer, who sometimes dedicated his entire life to a single colour, was therefore different.