Vegetable DyesOriginally, all dyes were made exclusively from animal and vegetable substances (vegetables dyes). The freely growing wild madder root is used to make various warm reds. The older the plant, the deeper the shade of red. The roots of plants which are over eight years old produce a purplish wine red. Different types of crushed cochineal insects make either a bright magenta color or a brilliant crimson when they are boiled in the due vat. To make the vivid “Turkey red” the madder is mixed with milk which has been fermented for exactly thirty days. Ox blood is sometimes used to make brownish reds.

All the vegetable-dye blues are made from the indigo plant, Which grows well in the warm countries of the East. The depth of blue depends on how often the wool is dipped into the dye to which sugary fixatives such as honey or dates have been added. This is done to overcome the fact that indigo plants, it will often a blue mark on your hand.

The yellow dyes are made from the saffron crocus, vine leaves pr milkwort (Isperek), as well as other plants such as reseda and buckthorn (although overbright if used in large areas, buckthorn is a very fast dye). Pomegranate skin makes a rather muddy yellow, but when it is blended with metal salts it can become olive or lime green. Other greens are made from turmeric berries and vine leaves. A mix of blue and yellow can also produce various greens, just as blue and red can be combined to make purple, but these kinds of combinations are frequently unstable.

Orange colors are made from henna or vine leaves. Persian berries, madder and pomegranate skins can produce a golden brown. Other browns are made from catechu (or cutch), walnut shells and oak bark. Blackish colors are made either by mixing henna and indigo or else by using logwood (brazilwood) combined with ferrous sulfate. Sadly, this iron salt is corrosive; in time it eats away the wool down to the warp threads, which is why many old rugs have an embossed look.

The natural blacks, greys and browns of the wool are, of course, also used, but like all undyed animal fibers, they tend to fade. White is simply the natural color of the wool. The Turkoman nomads often give it an ivory cast by curing it in the smoke from their fires.

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