Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-14-2005 10:58 PM:

How about Pink?

It is true that the radioactive synthetic orange colors found in many Caucasian and south Persian rugs are a factor in the value and desirability of those rugs, but how about pink? I believe Turkmen rug collectors get very suspicious of pink. I have a Baluch balisht that has some pink in it and it was considered to be a synthetic color by a leading dealer, but it has some tip-fading.
Here is a Kurdish Mina Khani rug with a plethora of pink. There are several intensities of pink in this rug, from pale to pronounced. None of them has tip-fading that might be a clue to a synthetic dye.

Here are photos of the front and back of one of the border elements:

In the lower left of this photo you can see where the weaver used yellow wefts for a bit and it is easy to see the extra wefts inserted several inches into the rug to straighten the weaving:

And you can readily see offset knotting in the white area of this close-up:

There are at least 15 distinct colors in this rug. The design has become quite disjointed from the original, with the formerly circular lattice becoming a jerky, stumbling maze and the once tilted palmettes (the brown"ragged" flowers in the middle of the rug alternating with the red asters) now facing us straight-on. The "cloudbands" curling from the pink flowers have separated from some of their flowers and are now floating like lost botehs in the camel-brown field.

Here is a link to the proper mina khani design on the Old Carpet web site:

Does anyone else have weavings with garish pinks? Are they real or are they synthetic?

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 06-15-2005 05:51 AM:

Hi Pat,

I think all the colors of your (nice!) Kurdish rug are natural.

I have a Jaff Kurd bag with a “hot” pink that is impossible to render:

Actually the red background of the diamond is more bluish, and the pink is less bluish, almost a light red. But if I try to correct the first, the latter changes too much. What you see here is a compromise.

The photo is taken in direct sunlight that shines back into the camera, producing overexposed white spots, especially in the pink area. The brown of the field is heavily corroded. I think all the colors are natural. No tip fading.



Posted by Richard Tomlinson on 06-15-2005 09:51 AM:

hi patrick

pink is certainly an interesting colour in rugs.

i was wondering if anyone knew how these bright, yet seemingly natural pinks are made? (that is, what is the dyeing process?)

i have always been amazed by the electic blues found in baluch pieces as well. how the hell do they do that?

richard tomlinson

Posted by R. John Howe on 06-15-2005 11:03 AM:

Hi Pat -

Pink is encountered in some Turkmen pieces without raising undue anxiety.

I refer the the fact that there is considerable decoration of some Turkmen pieces with silk pile areas.

Here is a fragment of a "Beshiri" chuval with a mina khani design.

Here are two closer views. Pink silk is used extensively here.

And here is a view of the back that lets one gauge how extensive the use of this pink silk has been.

I have not been troubled by this pink silk despite not having tested the dye used on it.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Tomlinson on 06-15-2005 11:27 AM:

hi john and all

i was also wondering if pink is considered a luxury colour in some pieces?

it seems that a lot of pieces (turkomen) that have limited silk highlights have the silk dyed in pink.

or might it just be tribal tradition that dictates pink silk?

richard tomlinson

Posted by R. John Howe on 06-15-2005 01:36 PM:

Richard -

Sometimes the use of silk pile in some Turkmen weavings is lavish.

The great Salor trapping, Plate 14, in the Mackie-Thompson catalog "Turkmen," that I once had in my hands, has large areas of opulent silk pile.

Thompson seems even to complain a bit about such a use of silk in Turkmen pieces. The word "lavish" is his and he associates it with later Salor work.

Now the use of silk can also be present but very sparce. I have said before that I own an Ersari torba that exhibits perhaps 8-10 very widely and specifically placed silk knots. It is hard to see what this does visually since you have to look for them even when you know approximately where they are. Perhaps this kind of usage has meaning for the weaver alone.


R. John Howe

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-16-2005 04:17 PM:

Just a pittance of pink

Here is an old Baluch balisht with only two knots of pink:

The two knots are in the middle of the tree trunk, where the red dashes turn to pink on either side of the trunk. You can possibly see them in the overall picture, where there appear to be two light dots in the middle of the piece, fourth branch from the bottom, This second photo is a bit dark, but these two knots are definitely pink:

And here is another Baluch balisht with the same design of a tree of life, but deconstructed almost to an abstract rendering:

This one, too, has but a small amount of pink, in exactly the same place as the first balisht, but here the weaver has extended the single pink knots out along the branches:

I have not been able to do a survey of more of this type of weaving to see if any others also have a small number of pink knots in this same area. But if a rather old example, such as #1, and a more recent version, such as #2, have just a few pink knots in the same place in balisht with this design, I suspect there may be others out there which have continued the tradition.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 06-16-2005 08:32 PM:

More Pink Fodder

Hi Pat,

Here's a couple more examples. The first is an Afshar rug with a nice pink in the main border and highlights of it throughout the rest of the rug. The second is from a turn of the century Yomud that also has a lot of "robins egg" blue in it. Is it pink, or is it a really a pale red ? One often hears the dealers referring to this color as "rose" or "pale rose". Looks pink to me. I would guess it's done by using a very clean white or ivory wool with a very light application of madder dye.


Chuck Wagner

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-16-2005 11:39 PM:

Rosy outlook


You are correct that a weak madder dye bath can make pink. When a red bleeds into white areas and turns them pink, the red is considered a synthetic dye. So tip-fading and bleeding are commonly used methods of distinguishing a good, natural dye from a likely synthetic.
The weavers loved orange, pink and yellow colors and they may have been expensive to come by. When synthetic dyes allowed weavers to dye their own wool instead of sending it to the village dye master, they probably jumped at the opportunity.
Local dye masters using "proprietary" methods quite likely accounted for much of the similarity of colors found in regional weavings.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 06-17-2005 08:16 AM:

Salmon, anyone?

Hi all,

Normally I am not crazy about pink in a rug either, especially "salmon" pink. But I really like this Shirvan rug, especially its colours. But pink and green???

In addition to the liberal use of the "salmon" pink, there is one "hotter" pink that has been used judiciously in the border and in some of the botehs. Actually, the digital photo makes it look "hotter" than it is. I am not a good judge of natural dyes, but that pink is the only dye in this rug of which I am a bit suspicious, and I think the reason for my suspicion is that it is a strong pink.

Am I being unnecessarily prejudiced against pink???