Oriental rug colors play a major influencing role in our home decor. Whether we are buying rugs, drapes or any other furnishing, we either choose our colors carefully depending on the ambiance we are trying to create in that particular room.
We may choose blue to create a more soothing, relaxed atmosphere or yellow to give the room a bright, sunny look. For rug weavers though, colors were more than just a decorative element.
Different colors had different meanings and different weavers choose their colors deliberately depending on the message they wanted to convey through their pattern and design.Take a look at some of the more commonly used colors in oriental rugs and the message what each of these colors signified:
To the Persians, particularly the orthodox Mohammedans, green is considered to be a holy color as it is associated with the Prophet Mohammed. Weavers used the color green sparingly. It was usually reserved for those sections of the rug that were unlikely to be walked on very often, such as the corners and sides. Green is regarded as the color of hope, life, Spring and renewal.
Red is the color of fire. It is a high-energy color that invokes joy, happiness, enthusiasm, courage, virility, faith and a vibrant life force. Weavers used the color red liberally in their weaving to bring attention to certain patterns or motifs that they wanted to highlight.
Brown represents the earth and soil and is considered to be the color of fertility.
The color blue symbolizes a sense of strength and or force. It stands for power, honesty and solitude and also alludes to the afterlife.
Yellow is the color of the sun and in the weavings too yellow is associated with the sun and represents the joy of life and living.
Orange is used to add a touch of humility or piety to the design.
Gold suggests power and wealth. It was used sparingly in oriental rugs and was usually reserved for rugs that were especially woven for royalty and rulers.
White is a pure color and is associated with purity of the heart, innocence, selflessness, cleanliness and peace.
Black is a forceful color and usually lends itself towards symbolizing doom and destruction. Rug weavers very rarely used to create complete patterns or even to create the rug field. When they douse black, it is typically to create outlines and borders in order to define a precise design.
Sourcing the dyes for oriental rugs
All dyes used in oriental rugs are extracted from natural sources. The nomadic tribal who were the original weavers used a variety of indigenous plants and insects to obtain the colors with which they dyed the wool.
Different shades of green were obtained from crushing and boiling a variety of leaves.
Red was extracted from the roots of the Madder plants or sometimes from crushed bodies of certain insects found in the region.
Browns were obtained from oak bark and walnut fruits, both of which were found abundantly in the region.
Yellows were made from Ox-eye camomile flowers, pomegranate skins, saffron or vine leaves.
Blue was got from the Dyers Woad Blue plant, which yields indigo, the most important blue dye.
Some dye sources were easily found and were easier to extract and so they were used liberally in rug weaving. However, some dyes sources were not so common. The rarity of these sources meant that those colors were expensive to obtain and they were used very sparingly.