Posted by Horst Nitz on 10-21-2003 09:02 AM:

Running Red Blues - A Follow-Up

Hallo All,It may have been about a year ago that I started a thread with the title „Running Red Blues“. At the time, I was worried that the red dye in a rug in need of washing might run and ruin the neighbouring white areas. A test for dye fastness was negative. In the case of another rug, apparently some of the indigo (on brown wool) had rubbed off and / or stained adjacent white areas.
I have tackled the first of the two. The red, which apparently is an insect dye, most likely cochineal, did not run after all. I had to revise my method of dye testing though. Leaving a damp white cloth on with a weight on top overnight was not appropriate in this case it seems.

This now is the rug:

And in detail:

At first glance it seems to be a clear case for a Baluch rug, however unusual. But is it? To my knowledge and, consistent with literature available to me, Baluch rugs are in the asymmetric knot. This one is carried out in the symmetric knot thought.

What would you make of it?

Many thanks,


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 10-21-2003 11:55 AM:

Hi Horst,

I still have your thread - which, by the way, had a slightly different title - on my HD.
Nothing unusual in your rug. It seems that around 10% of Baluch-type rugs are knotted symmetrically.
I should be more unusual to find a cochineal red. Looking at the pictures you posted the first time, the reds seem quite regular ones for Baluchis.
Waiting for the new pictures,


Posted by Steve Price on 10-21-2003 02:04 PM:

Hi People

Horst sent me the images, and they are now in his first post.

Thanks, Horst.

Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 10-22-2003 08:38 AM:

Yes, that’s the one.

It looks like a good old Baluch with natural colors.
I confirm what I said: the red(s) seems the classical one I’m accustomed to see on Baluchis.
As far as I know they used madder to make those different shades of red. Never herd of cochineal.
Best regards,


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 10-22-2003 08:46 AM:

It could be a Mahdad-Khani Balouch, Nehbandan - see figure 11 and related description in Wegner’s part III

Posted by Horst Nitz on 10-22-2003 08:55 AM:

Hallo Filiberto,

Many thanks for your valuable information on the 10% faction in the symmetric knot. Could you perhaps expand on this a little, be more specific? I wonder, whether the appearance of symmetric knots in Baluchi rugs is a mere chance event or whether it clusters with other technical, regional or anthropological aspects to identifiable groups.

As to the pictures, a little bit of advice would be helpful. The ones I sent in have come out even darker and seem more compressed to me as they appear on Turkotek. I quite agree they don’t allow for pinning down one of the reds as cochineal. Describing colours with words perhaps is not a brilliant idea, but I’ll try anyhow: the rug displays the familiar range of reds from the madder family including the much beloved dark, glowing red. The cochineal in the guls and secondary field motives though has a bluish edge to it, being vibrating in a sense. I had a look into Opie, J (1998) Tribal Rugs. Among all the splendid Baluchi Rugs only plate 13.17 seems to display the same red. Unfortunately James Opie doe not tell us where the rug is from nor is he very strong on technical aspects. I’ll also try with another picture.


Horst Nitz

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 10-22-2003 09:40 AM:

Hi Horst,

The information on 10% symmetric knot is on Wegner’s part II, see there for more considerations on the subject:

Perhaps Steve compressed more your images, I don’t think he made them darker.
My edition of Opie’s Tribal Rugs is 1992, and I don’t know if my plate 13.17 is the same than yours.
Here is the picture you sent last year. It is lighter but the reds look more toward orange than in your new pictures.



Posted by Marvin Amstey on 10-22-2003 10:42 AM:

Good afternoon, Filiberto.
While I agree with you that the red in this piece is almost certainly derived from madder, cochineal is seen in "Baluch" rugs from Khorassan. It's the typical bluish, purplish red.

Posted by Steve Price on 10-22-2003 11:03 AM:

Hi Horst

It's very unusual for me to do anything except the following to images that people send me for posting:
1. If there is a lot of extraneous space on the image (many come in with rugs or bagfaces surrrounded by a lot of floor or a lot of wall, etc.), I crop it to remove some of it.
2. I adjust the image size to not more than 500 pixels wide, to 350 or 400 pixels if the image is in "portrait format".
3. I adjust the file size to less than 100 kb. This has no detectable effect on the sharpness when it is displayed on a computer monitor when the image is no more than 500 pixels wide.

I don't recall the dimensions or file sizes of yours when they arrived, but they are now 400 x 533 pixels each; one is about 90 kb and the other is about 101 kb. I made no adjustments to color, brightness or contrast.


Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 10-22-2003 11:05 AM:

Thanks, Marvin.

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 10-22-2003 11:32 AM:

Hi Horst,

After Marvin’s remark I checked the book "Balouchi Woven Treasures" (better late then never).

There are two rugs from Khorassan area - plate 1 and 38 - indicated as having "ruby-red (cochineal)".

However, comparing them to the other pictures in the book I can’t tell the difference.
I guess one needs quite good close-ups.


Posted by Horst Nitz on 10-22-2003 04:24 PM:

Thanks, Filiberto, for that very welcome bibliographic reference. I printed it out and am sure it will keep me occupied for the next couple of days. Seeing the old picture again you have put in was quite startling. Tomorrow I’ll have a busy day back in the office. That’s where the rug is mounted. If I get the chance I’ll try and make a picture of the corner with the formerly frayed outer border. It might show what a good job the restorer has done.

And thanks to you Steve, for the information on the image processing. I think it is wonderful how you make it work at all. I use Ulead Photo Impact and Album and if need be I can adjust pictures so they match the original in tonality and contrast. It might well be that some of this particular information in not transmitted to you by Internet Explorer.

Bye for now,


Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-23-2003 12:55 AM:

being curious ...

Hallo everybody,

would it be possible to get a picture of this Cochineal-type of red ? May be even including the "normal" red together with this Cochineal-type in it ?


Michael Bischof

Posted by Vincent Keers on 10-23-2003 05:42 AM:

Hi all,

Bluish red is: Red and blue mix? Indigo/woad and madder?
Cochineal is more like a brownish Purple with a bluish veil?
Cochineal acts like Indigo? It strengthens the wool?

Question marks because I think, that this is what I belief I've seen.
But one can never be sure.

Best regards,

Posted by Marvin Amstey on 10-23-2003 08:30 AM:

Vincent is quite correct: one can not be sure of a dye without a chemical analysis. I once had an interesting conversation with Geo. O'Bannon about a particular Baluch rug. It was published in ORR and might be available online. The conclusion was simply that natural and artifical dyes frequently can not be distinguished by eye. Intersperse a monitor, a bit of software and the internet and it changes from "frequently" to "never can be distinguished by eye".

Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-23-2003 09:37 AM:

blueish red ...

Hi everybody, hi Vincent,

no, Cochineal is by no means related to Indigo. It is a dye lacquer-type of dye-stuff ( see for this
) and quite water-soluble. In spite of this solubility it may give good fastness, but only on wool. It does not make the wool stronger...
The most fast and the most desirably hue from madder is a pure red with a clearly visible blueish cast (nuance), difficult and expensive to make and typical for nearly all early material of any provenance...

To recognize it one needs simply training - it cannot copied with artificial dyes.

Therefore I asked whether we might see a (digital) photo. It can well be that even from this one could derive some conclusion.


Michael Bischof

Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-23-2003 03:11 PM:

blueish red - one example ...

Hello everybody,

finally I found a suitable example here - though it is a digital picture according to my experience with dyes it shows what it should show. This is pure madder , no single trace of Cochineal. The violet is "madder only" as well.
Really, no synthetic dye !



I've taken the liberty of adding the image to Michael's post for convenience. Steve Price

Posted by Horst Nitz on 10-23-2003 04:19 PM:

Hallo Michael and All,

quite astonishing this picture! I have taken a few more pictures myself today with a simple colour chart as a sort of reference but did not manage to upload and process them. This will come at the weekend.

Bye for now, Horst.

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 10-24-2003 05:39 AM:

Hi Michael,

So, how we distinguish visually between cochineal and the bluish shade of madder red?
What we need are pictures showing the two dyes side by side.


Posted by Steve Price on 10-24-2003 06:37 AM:

Hi Filiberto

I think the bottom line of Michael's post is that you can't distinguish cochineal from the bluish shade of madder red by eye, and no collection of pictures can change that. He knows that the colors in the illustrated piece are from madder because he dyed them.


Steve Price

Posted by Horst Nitz on 10-25-2003 04:27 PM:

Hallo Everybody,

After having seen those gorgeous colours derived from madder, I am not so sure anymore about the cochineal in this rug. Perhaps I should have said “bluish red”. However, one would have to know what the mordant is in Michael Bischof’s sample and whether it would have been available toe a dyer in that far corner of Khorasan or Afghanistan. Also, is it not a basic knowledge to all of us that red from madder does not run? Clearly, next morning after I had applied some white cloth to the red it had become pinkish. I agree with what Marvin Amstey said. Chemical analysis, i.e. thin layer chromatography should tell. The method as such is not to difficult, perhaps easier than putting together an Ikea cupboard. But getting a standardized mixture of dyes as a reference seems complicated.

Here the pictures now. Colour sample 845 is a clear fire red. Sample 856 is a dark violet.

The second picture can be set against the one from about a year ago which Filiberto had kept and mailed (further up). This one shows the repaired corner. The restorer seems not to have lost a single knot in the job.

Bye for now,

Horst Nitz

Posted by Tracy Davis on 10-25-2003 05:04 PM:

Surprisingly madder

Michael, how did you mordant the wool to achieve those colors with madder? And was the violet color a weaker bath?

Posted by Horst Nitz on 10-27-2003 03:37 AM:

Hallo everybody,

My apologies for the poor quality of the images that obviously don’t show what they are mend to. I just don’t know how to help it. Although looking better here, the picture from about a year ago that Filiberto had recorded is much overexposed, two aperture settings I would say. That is why the reds tend towards orange. The recent picture files as they left my computer show good quality images when I open them and are considerably lighter. A friend of mine who is a professional photographer of the classical kind (does not like pixels) told me that dark rugs must be quite difficult to shoot and that they need good light and high resolution, which I suspect got lost here in the course of - or curse - of data processing.

Perhaps I could send images to Filiberto and Michael directly. Any other advice?

Bye for now,


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 10-27-2003 04:34 AM:

Hi Horst,

That is rather strange.
The photos you sent are the same you see on Turkotek. Even with some resizing and extra compression the colors should be exactly the same.
Perhaps it has something to do with the arcane term of "Gamma correction". Gamma can be described as the measurement of contrast that affects the midtones of an image.

I don’t know "Ulead Photo Impact", the program you use for manipulating your images.
I do know that Adobe PhotoShop has its own Gamma correction and I noticed that a pix opened with it looks slightly different than on my normal pix viewer - which is the default viewer used either by my other "image" program (Paint Shop Pro) and by Internet Explorer.

Try to open, side by side, one of those photos with Ulead Photo Impact and with Internet Explorer.
To open an image with I.E. click "File" on the menu bar, then > Open > Browse> (locate the directory where the pix is stored, click on "File type" > JEPG Files or All Files) > locate the pix and click on it.
If they look different, then you’ll have to calibrate again the picture using Ulead Photo Impact in a way that looks satisfactory when you open it with I.E.


Posted by Robert Alimi on 10-27-2003 09:56 AM:

For what it's worth, I just came upon this thread and noticed something interesting: the image that Michael Bischof referenced in an earlier post was apparently "borrowed" from the NERS Prayer Rug exhibition. I thought it looked a bit too familiar; I scanned this photo about a year ago while preparing the exhibit. You can see the rug the image came from, as well as the full image (the "borrowed" copy was cropped) by viewing the detailed photos in plate #2 of the Prayer Rug exhibit. Be sure to click on the thumbnail to view the full-size image.

The NERS images are NERS property; not to be reproduced without permission. I'll have to send a reminder note to the web admin at the site. On a related note, NERS will be opening it's second online exhibition in about 4 weeks. It's been in the works since last Spring and is shaping up fairly well.



Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 10-27-2003 10:57 AM:

Sorry about that, Robert, we didn’t know.

Do we have the permission to keep that picture for the time being?
Show and Tell threads are routinely deleted after a few weeks anyway.


Posted by Robert Alimi on 10-27-2003 11:25 AM:


Of course, no problem. The material is there to be viewed for enjoyment and education. I was just trying to highlight the fact that the admin of the other website showed a certain lack of courtesy by not first seeking permission, and by not crediting the source. Also, I wanted to point people to the additional images, where the full rug can be seen. This is one of my favorite rugs in the Prayer Rug exhibit, mostly due to the rich palette.


Posted by Michael_Bischof on 10-27-2003 01:59 PM:


Hello everybody, hello Horst Nitz,

it is not like that Ý wanted to build up suspension ! The picture that I have offered is a detail from a detailed photograph from the NERS Turkish Carpets exhibition - a "mihrablý" carpet from a village in the viciýnity of
Karaman. This was the last thing I did in Germany before leaving for Turkey - sorry, Robert Alimi, that this
was a spontaneous decision and I had no time to ask for permission ! Forgiven ? I am sure that in this way this carpet of yours got more attention ...

Of course one can distinguish this blueish red from Cochineal reds - but these may vary a lot from an even
more blueish cast towards plain brillant scarlet which then would be called kýzýl in Turkish. The traditional name of the village - as well as for all such carpets ! - is Kýzýllar, the Scarlet Reds , home place of our Susan Yalcýn.
The violet tone, Tracy, is done with a dýfferent treatment. You can buy that from the Çivit dye plant in Konya. They
will not tell you how it is made, though
as some people until today keep up sayiýng that only DOBAG can make that.

The trick simply is to use only a certain fraction of the many dye stuffs that good Anatolian madder can offer to you.
Of course our Memduh Kürtül can do this dye - but of course every Turkish carpet dealer , all the Westerners as well, except some amateurs from some museum would admire it but refrain from buying it , supporting the hope that today or in near future one could get the same "look" from Pakistan...

Horst Nitz: our e.mail-adress is In this particular moment I can
get mails but cannot send mails - I am in Konya and try to do something really advanced ( more than having introduced natural dyes to here 20 years ago): to set up our firms Internet connections under Linux...


Michael Bischof

Posted by Horst Nitz on 10-27-2003 03:36 PM:

Thanks, Michael,

good luck to you and your project. Hope you'll find some time to build up by looking at those wonderful Seljuk masonry and tiles.

All the best,


Posted by Michael_Bischof on 10-30-2003 02:37 AM:

identıfy dyes ...

Hallo everybody, hallo Horst Nitz,

thanks a lot for your good wishes ! We are more interested in catchint the fascinating blues and blue-greens of Selçuk carpets using woad plus natural indigo ...

In order to identify unknown or "strange" dyes one can

- do own dyeings with known materials till one gets the same result. This method is cheap but limited to those
you can do advanced natural dyes (two sources only in Turkey, none elsewhere). Some years before we showed such results to Bethany Mendenhall, Charles Lave, Samy Rabinovic, Walter B. Denny and many others in Konya. About some of those "reference dyes" the reactions were like: we cannot believe that these are natural dyes ... this is the method of choice in case one needs the dyed yarns anyway in order to work with them, e.g. for repairs of pieces more than 150 years old (very early Turcomans, classical carpets) where the tones must be matched by newly dyed samples even if one works with yarns taken from kilim fragments. As you might imagine the dyes available from these are limited to those that were used in such kilims (leaving the violet-from-madder and the indigo problem aside).

- with Thin Layer Chromatography. This is a kind of not too expensive but "coarse" method - it depends totally on a well informed guess. In your case I recommend to test against madder plus alizarine sulphonate -
but not against Cochineal.

For those people who might not believe that the 2 tones in the NERS carpet are from madder and who do not want to rely on what Memduh Kürtül and I explain and show I recommend to see one day a small museum in Mulhouse (France , Alsace). There was a big madder production in the 19th century just before natural dyes were killed worldwide by the German chemical industry ...



Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 10-31-2003 10:48 AM:

Dear All,

Horst sent me four more images, confirming that the program he is using for the treatment of photos showed images lighter than in Internet Explorer.
The first two were two versions of the same photo and I choose what looks like the best one:

Fact is that the rug is much darker than the page with the color chart, and there is no film (chemical or electronic) that is capable to capture the full range of color/ luminosity as the human eye can.
So, if you want to show the rug and the page in the same image, you have to choose a compromise between expositions. Either the rug will be too dark and the page too light or the other way around.
This one looks almost OK on my monitor. I would prefer to overexpose a bit the rug, but the chart will be too dark… but, then there is also the different calibration of our monitors to take into account.

Here are the other two photos:

All the 3 images are uploaded as I received them - no resizing, compression and so on..

Best regards,


Posted by Horst_Nitz on 11-03-2003 12:30 PM:

As we are on the matter of colours. The following picture shows quite nicely the change from madder to cochineal within the outline of a stepped-hook medallion in an east-anatolian kelim - in approximately 4 o'clock position from centre.



Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-04-2003 12:42 PM:

really cochineal ?

Hallo everybody, hallo Horst Nitz,

well, from this picture as it looks on my screen
I am not that sure that it is Cochineal !

The necessary mordants have been available for sure to any dyer in this area - the question is how that had used them.

If you say that the red in your particular Balutsch piece is "running" ( could you please be more specific on what happens if you do what ... ? ) then the most likely candidates to look for in case of Thin Layer Chromatigraphic researches are
- alizarine sulphonate
- synthetic alizarine compounds
- madder, used in the form of tiny "dust"

whatever, but not Cochineal. The kilim picture I cannot interpret sufficiently in this respect.


Michael Bischof

Posted by Horst Nitz on 11-05-2003 05:06 AM:

Hallo and thanks to all who have contributed so far.

I have looked into the matter of Baluchi rugs with symmetric knots somewhat deeper. This is what I have found out:

Wegner D (1985) challenges a claim apparently been made by Black (1976) and Eiland (1976) that 10% of the knots were of the symmetrical Ghiordes kind. According to Wegner this may be owed to the fact that the other authors did not investigate the rugs on location and, that they were more likely been made by Timuri. Also it may be possible, according to Wegner, that weavers of different ethnic origin applied their own technique when they married into a Baluch tribe. O’Bannon (1978) also arrives at a figure of 10% of Baluchi rugs being symmetrical and probably woven by Kurdish weavers in the Quchan and Meshad areas. Eiland and Eiland (1998) seem to have paddled back somewhat on the earlier claim and now suggest that as many as 5% are symmetrically knotted. They break down this figure further by suggesting that a substantial portion of these are woven by Kurds in the Quchan area. Also, some of those rugs apparently have been attributed to the Bahluri people west of Herat in the Gurian vicinity. According to the Eiland and Eiland this tribe may be Turkic in origin, which could explain the structural and design features that set their rugs apart from typical Baluchis. In an otherwise very profound salon here on this page hosted by Thomas Cole earlier this year he just seems to have fallen short of proclaiming that he was an expert on asymmetric Baluch rugs only, excluding symmetric ones. This is about all that seems to have been said in the literature on symmetric knots in Baluchi rugs. I could not look up Azadi (1986) and Boucher J (1996) as those titles were not available to me (out of print). Would they offer further clues, does anybody know?

To the particular rug now that’s been presented here. Filiberto suggested a Mahdad-Khani attribution and gave reference to that article by Wegner in which a Mahdad-Khani Balouch from the area of Nehbandan with Tekke gul and chemche is depicted. Unfortunately pictures in this article are not of the best quality and are B/W only, which makes proper judgement difficult. If anyone on this forum holds a Mahdad-Khani, a picture would be welcome. The symmetric knot is not accounted for in this attribution though. As a starting point, very tentative attributions might be made to those groups that are known to have woven Turkmen guls, as this rug contains a rather accurate Tekke gul and an octagon figure that almost certainly is derived from the Mar gul along with a secondary gul (chemche). To cut short a story that already has become quite long and meandering, a possible provenance for this rug covers an area from the Russian border in the north down to Chakansur and Zabol. If all attributions are excluded for which it is not at least somewhere stated that symmetric knots occur or that weavers with an Turkish or Kurdish origin are known to have settled, than the origin of the rug is more likely to be found in the north. Possibly in an area north and south of an axis between Heart and Meshed (Serakhs, Quchan, Budjnurd, Torbat-e-Haidari, Djulghe Kaf, Gurian). The origin may even be in present day Russia, as some of the tribes before the closure of the border in the 1880s seem to have used winter pastures there.

I very much feel like treading uncertain grounds here. A tribal area indeed!

Bye for now,

Horst Nitz

Posted by Rick Paine on 11-05-2003 12:55 PM:

This E. Anatolian and Kurdish lover would like to see the rest of Horst's kilim. Thanks. --Rick

Posted by Sue Zimmman on 11-05-2003 09:42 PM:

Hi Horst,

I think the color areas in question on your Baluch rug are madder overdyed with logwood. I think the still unattributed photo of the various tones of madder was taken by Yon Bard. I am equally sure about both of these, but what do I know?

Thank you for keeping your rug off the floor. Sue

Posted by Horst Nitz on 11-06-2003 02:54 AM:

Hallo Sue,

sorry, which ever way I think about what your are saying, you lost me. Are you sure you are on the right thread?

Best wishes,

Horst Nitz

Posted by Horst Nitz on 11-06-2003 05:20 AM:


this is the best I can do for the time being. It is a bit awkward to take pictures of because of its length of nearly four meters. Actually, it looks narrower here than it is in reality – a matter of lens perspective. I bought it in Erzurum in 1970 or ‘71 and believe it also to be made in that area.

Bye for now,

Horst Nitz

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 11-06-2003 10:50 AM:

Hi Horst,

Sorry to have lost you. I was talking about the first rug you posted and the photo Michael posted 10-23-03 at 8:11 PM. Just click the back button/arrow or the [1] at the bottom of this page to find them. Sue

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 11-06-2003 08:37 PM:

More Confusion


Quite some time ago, during an earlier Turkotek Salon, #45, I posted a Baluch balisht with asymmetric knots in most of the field and with lots of symmetric knots near the edges of the weaving. This link should take you to the discussion of the knots:

I had not before and have not since seen another example of Baluch weaving with both knot types.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 11-07-2003 12:36 AM:

The Other Photo


Here is the other photo from Salon 45 showing the lower, left corner of the balisht.

You can readily see that the first three columns of orange knots are symmetric at the left and the fourth column is asymmetric.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Horst Nitz on 11-09-2003 09:10 AM:

Hallo everybody on this pretty autumn afternoon.

Sue, on logwood, interesting thought, theoretically I would say it’s possible, empirically it seems highly unlikely. I have looked it up in Brüggemann W & Böhmer H (1982). There have been only small imports in Turkey in 19th c. Perhaps it never caught on because of more easily available alternatives. It’s a tropical tree and had to be imported.

Patrick, on mixed knots in the same rug. What you describe as being vertical columns of symmetrical knots in the bottom left corner of your balisht appears to me as part of a flat selvedge with a set of 4x2 warps overcast with wool. Only vertical column five from left seems to be knots proper. Of course one can ask what the significance is of this. Some possibilities you have discussed already in salon 45. Perhaps it qualifies to what O’Bannon W (1988) described as being “random, unselfconscious elements of design, color etc). Possibly, the little daughter of the weaver wanted to “help”?

Michael, I hope your Linux is running smoothly by now. As you and Filiberto have suggested, the bright and somewhat bluish red in that Baluch is most likely madder, processed to high standards. Not the least because of the sample you have shown us - but I also have done some reading in between – I now think, one could produce an even more bluish and pinkish dye from madder if one set ones heart to it, using madder with or without purpurine and with or without indigo or woad. It is all within the chemistry of those plants and minerals (as mordants). Wasn’t there a purple called “koptic” or Egyptian” from madder and indigo in early Christian centuries? The question always remains of course what is available to a weaver tucked away in her crease of high mountains ore elsewhere.

In the case of this particular Baluch ore more generally, it sometimes may only be possible to decide after thin-layer chromatography what dye was used. It also would help with dating. What one must have thought is a supplier of pure dyes. Those define the standard against which to judge the dye in question. Those defined dyes ore standardized mixtures of such are more needed than a laboratory proper. A kitchen would be fine while the goddess of the place is out on business elsewhere. Does anyone know such a source?

What gave me the impression that the red might run if the rug was washed? Standard procedure for dye testing here is: a plastic bag turned inside out or one with no printing goes underneath the rug so that the floor won’t get damaged. From another piece of plastic bag I cut a mask with an opening varying one to five centimetres and place it in position. A clean white cloth or folded piece of kitchen roll is soaked in lukewarm water with a drop of washing-up liquid in it and squeezed out. Then put on place with a weight (iron) left on top of it overnight. So done in this case and in the case of another Baluch of similar age and more traditional sombre colours (dark red, blue, black, white only). In both cases the cloth was faintly pink next morning. No indication of the Ponceau family or similar. I don’t know whether Alizarin sulphonate is pink. It might be. But it was invented in 1871 only. Should it have reached the Baluchi at 1900 already or earlier?

As the thread is named “Running Red Blues” I would like to reintroduce the other rug, the one with the “tricky” blue in it, also a Baluch I think. There the indigo had stained adjacent white areas. To be more specific: small white areas that are surrounded by comparatively bigger blue areas. Those blue areas apparently are of camel wool dyed very dark with indigo to give them an almost black appearance.

To wrap it up in a short question to which I would be interested to have your answers: are problems with dyes for one reason or other more frequently encountered with Baluch rugs than in rugs from elsewhere?

Bye for now,

Horst Nitz

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 11-09-2003 10:37 AM:

Hi Horst,

As far as I know old Baluch rugs have no problems with dyes. It seems they used good natural dyes until quite recent times.
I remember, though, on Salon 53 Steve confronted the question of "stray reds" on Turkmen weavings. Have a look there:



Posted by Horst Nitz on 11-09-2003 11:12 AM:


I forgot: this one provides a good introduction to thin-layer chromatography as applied to rugs and textiles:

Bye for now,

Horst Nitz

Posted by Horst Nitz on 11-09-2003 11:42 AM:

Hallo Filiberto,


I was not so much thinking of the issue of natural dyes vs. synthetic but on aspects like wool preparation, over-saturation, unreliable or varying composition of dye plants and minerals used for mordants, lack of water for proper rinsing of dyed wool, brittleness of fibres etc. If natural dyes from madder go “astray” I assume those must be the underlying factors. Just one example: if the dye and the mordant have joint with one another and with the fibre, forming a laquer, a new compound has build, unsolvable in water. But what if the proportions were not quite right because of fluctuating percentages? What if a formula is applied to camel hair or dark grey wool, that normally gives good results with lightly coloured wool?


Horst Nitz

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 11-09-2003 12:18 PM:

Hi Horst,

True, Logwood would have to be imported but it sailed over with Cochineal, no problem there.

Some oxidation of the dyebath is required with good Logwood dyeing. Good Logwood, with good dyeing, fades true. No real reason not to use it to imitate "Turkey Red" type colors. Big money in it, actually, if successful.

PH sensitive dyes serve as litmus paper for water pH and visa versa. Your bleeding test, according to me, with controls put in place, can be used to test what dyestuff was used because the "Scales", or tone range, of cochineal, madder, and Logwood differ. You won't even have to walk to the kitchen.

"Tricky blues" can be had by overdyeing Indigo with Logwood, (high pH). A bit of iron with Logwood, overdyed on indigo, gives black. Sue

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 11-09-2003 02:13 PM:

Tribal tradition, if there is such a thing, loses out to weaving tradition in Patrick's bag. A few things. Edges of bags are more prone to wear. Symmetrical knots take more time to knot but are stronger. Asymmetrically knotted stuff intrudes, like bangs, on one selvage or the other. While offset knotting allows for more bang for the weaving buck, design-wise, asymmetrical knots come close in their ability to follow curves and diagonals of motif "formlines", at least when compared to symmetrical knots.

A good weaving solution for the "bangs" and structure problem is resolved by bordering the selvages with a few rows of symmetrical knots. It also gives a neater appearance. On Patrick's bag, in photo (3), the weaver has chosen to change knots to asymmetrical at the "formline" of the motif because the minuscule difference it makes in the motif's appearance causes even a smaller difference in the bag's strength. If Patrick were to examine the placement of the symmetrical knots within the bag, those which are out of range of strengthening or adding neatness to the structure by their use, I think he would find them along the "formlines" of motifs which are meant to be vertically, (parallel to the warps), straight. This is because the weaver of this bag knew more than she needed to know for making this bag, but used her knowledge anyway, because she could, because she had a good teacher, even if her teacher was herself. Sue

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 11-09-2003 04:55 PM:

Not Neat


For the most part, the symmetric knots do follow a straight line up the outer borders of the bag.
On the right side, there are two outer columns and on the left side there are four, but a third of the way up there are five. About halfway up, the symmetric knots take up the entire outer border, the next column of white/brown knots and in a few places they intrude into the red border with the alternating-leaf design several columns into the red areas - as many as 12 knots altogether. This symmetric knotting continues up about 8 inches along the left side of the bag. (I think she just kept making symmetric knots because she was "in a groove")
It is almost impossible to tell, but the outer border is not plain brown. It contains the same "Y" design as found along the outside of the field. The "Y" parts are in black and the background of the border is a maroon/brown.
The orange knots at the bottom of the border show one segment of the "Y" design. The "Y" alternates with a single knot between "Y" segments, so what you see appears as a row of little Y trees with a small bush between them. Except that it is almost impossible to see due to the lack of contrast between the black and brown.

Sorry to get so off-track of the topic of dyes here. I am certain this bag is not from the same group that made Horst's rug. By the way, it was woven "upside down" with the pile pointing up. similar to some prayer rugs. I think the reason for the upside down could be either the assertion that in order to make the crown of the tree appear at the "top" of the weaving, the weaver wove it first, or that this bag had two pile faces, one of which was woven "right side up".
In any case, it is quite unusual in its construction.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Wally Schmidt on 11-09-2003 09:29 PM:

Running Red Blues - A Follow-Up

Hello Filiberto,

I have seen a number of Mushwannis that were old, with faded dyes, but also some Timuris with Fuschine, one a very nice prayer rug. As most old rugs I've seen with Fuschine very small amounts.
Witch seem to change as they move from place to place like magic as does a 3 it becomes a 2. Those poor old kilims. To repair and weave new old or old new rugs.

Good night,

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 11-10-2003 02:36 AM:

Hi Wally,

What I mean is that old Baluch rugs do not have a particularly bad reputation for bad dyes. On the contrary, their dyes were quite good also because they used natural dyes for a longer time than other tribal wavers.
It seems that, in old Baluch, fuchsin was used very sparingly - probably because it was rather expensive at the time - to add preciousness to the rug.


Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 11-11-2003 12:00 PM:


Hi Horst,

I've cooked up a little test for your "tricky blue" dye. Do your bleed test on the "tricky blue". This time, though, buy a little piece of 100% rag thin blotter paper at an art supply store to test with, too. Center a small square of the blotter paper on some paper towels, (which are high pH), and use distilled water this time with just enough lemon juice squeezed into it to so it tastes very slightly "lemony". I think you can use the same "washing - up liquid" you used on your other rug's test. If the "tricky blue" bleeds kind of purple or bluish purple on the paper towels and sort of pink on the blotter paper you probably have indigo overdyed with Logwood on your hands.

You can redo your bleed test on your other rug in this new way so as to see if the "bleed colors" match up in both rugs. Sue

Posted by Horst Nitz on 11-11-2003 03:53 PM:

Hallo Sue,

it is very sweet of you to have given the issue so much thought. I’ll think it through tomorrow. We are hours ahead of you I believe and I have just come home from a parents’ committee meeting and am dead tired now.


Horst Nitz

Posted by Horst Nitz on 11-13-2003 01:08 PM:


Sue, I don’t know whether you hold a natural sciences degree. If not: congratulations. You have discovered what one could call fractional chromatography. Let me explain. In classic chromatography you expose a mixture of substances to two antagonistic processes: adhesion to a large surface (stationary phase - cellulose, silicate etc. as absorbents) and solubility in a liquid phase (water, solvent, pH manipulating agents, mixture of all). After the mixture has travelled up on a platter of glass coated with the absorbent or down a column filled with it for a certain amount of time (anything between a few minutes and several months) it will have separated in its constituent compounds, allowing identification and/or further processing. In upward chromatography the dynamic behind it is capillary action, in downward chromatography it is gravitation mainly. Normally, the degree of separation is a function of the length of the “running course”, considered all other influences being the same. You have proposed a variation by introducing a second stationary phase with somewhat different physical properties (kitchen roll vs. blotting paper). I don’t know whether it’s been put to practical use somewhere and at some time. Might well have been.

This said I would prefer to put the issue at rest for the time being. Whether it is madder, perhaps dyed over with something else or cochineal, cannot be decided in the absence of results from further analytic tests. Most of what could have been said on this forum has. And it was very informative and helpful. Although I will begin picking up some equipment whilst I go along, further analysis will have to wait. It’s not the kitchen that is to small. It’s the time-planner, struggling with a busy life.

In the meantime I would like to draw attention to the possibility that our assumptions about the unconditional water-fastness of natural dyes may be incomplete when we talk about woven artefacts of a remote and rural people. I have seen it on three Baluch rugs now, and I have seen it on flat-weaves of similar age and environmental context from the Hakkari and Cilo region in Kurdistan. Those dyes were not manufactured according to EEC or US pharmaceutical standards or to DIN ISO 9001. Apparently, dyes from madder may consist of up to a dozen different chemical compounds. They may well contain some more soluble compounds that normally should have been washed out long ago at the end of the manufacturing process. The raw materials may have been unreliable quality as may have been the manufacturing or dying process itself, making it easy to get the proportions wrong. It’s not a big step from saturation to over-saturation, resulting in some of the dye clotting on the fibre instead of forming an integrated bond, waiting to go astray when washed 100 years after.

Bye for now,

Horst Nitz