TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Synthetic dye issue
Author  :  Eden Ethan mailto:%20tengfam@pacific.net.sg
Date  :  11-11-2001 on 05:04 p.m.
Sorry to intrude but I have more questions than discussion points. What is rare? Does it mean that it is difficult to find? What about certain designs that were common but good examples are just too difficult to come out into the open?
Another thing about age and synthetic dye. There are many relatively "new" pieces that can take one's breathe away. And if what we are looking for is beauty and rarity, then the problem of synthetic dye or natural should not pose a problem unless it is proven (by science or experience) that a synthetic dye is always ultimately, inferior to natural dye, all things being equal. Could there be a bias? This is a puzzling question that I do not quite understand and still don't when I first came to like rugs and reading books about carpets (which, I hope you will not take offense, is merely slightly more than a year ago).
I bought a beautiful Isfahan carpet and the colours and design are very beautiful and we love it very much. Until somewhere in a book says colours are always better when they age and mellow, and synthetic dye does not mellow it just fades. But we love our carpet the way it is...strong vibrant colours...and we still love it. A rug with synthetic rug may be just as pleasing and stunningly beautiful in it's own sense and should not be classified as second best because THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL.
Anyway, when it comes to beauty, I find it very hard to have a common consensus. All may think that a rug is beautiful but not ALL will love it. You may find more people who express there liking for a particular piece but you will inevitably find someone who doesn't. I have never been in a committee or anything in discussion, but from working experience in groups, there is always the give and take element. You win some, you lose some...but most important for a team to work...is to make sure that no one loses all the time.
(I do hope you people would excuse such immature rumblings and opinions in your discussion board.)

Subject  :  Re:Synthetic dye issue
Author  :  Jerry Silverman mailto:%20rug_books@silvrmn.com
Date  :  11-11-2001 on 08:27 p.m.
No, Eden, such rumblings aren't out of place here at all. In fact, the issue of whether an exhibition of rugs from Midwest collections should include pieces with synthetic dyes is well worth considering.

You have identified a serious question when you correctly point out how beautiful the colors are on many new rugs.

Some of those rugs are made using "natural" dyes (which only gets us back to the starting point), but others - even some alleged to be naturally dyed - use synthetics. The issue may be less the chemical derivation of the dye than the skill with which it is applied and the artistry with which it is displayed in the design.

But if you want to assess the relative impact of a synthetic dye in the mind's eye of collectors, follow the auction price a rug with them achieves compared with a similar piece without synthetics.

Do we owe it to the ACOR audience (collectors or spouses of collectors, one and all) to exhibit only synthetic dye-free rugs?


Subject  :  Re:Synthetic dye issue
Author  :  Patrick Weiler mailto:%20theweilers@home.com
Date  :  11-11-2001 on 09:15 p.m.

If you collectively decide to allow only rugs without synthetic dyes, does this mean that you will require all rugs to have dye-test results? Or would you only decline to accept supposedly-seemingly-synthetic-dyed rugs? No bleeding Turkmens?

You can probably find a few folks with the Evil Eye (I mean Experienced Eye) to help you with your decisions.

What about rugs made with vegetal dyes but made in the synthetic dye era? It might be quite difficult to limit the show to confirmed 1st-half 19th century rugs.

You will probably revert to the theory posited in a recent thread that "a knot or two" of synthetic dyes does not ruin a piece, but helps to place it chronologically, whereas a rug replete with synthetic dyes would not make the cut.

Synthetically yours,

Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  Re:Synthetic dye issue
Author  :  Eden Ethan mailto:%20tengfam@pacific.net.sg
Date  :  11-12-2001 on 01:07 a.m.
Dear Jerry,
But if you want to assess the relative impact of a synthetic dye in the mind's eye of collectors, follow the auction price a rug with them achieves compared with a similar piece without synthetics.

The question still remains: Is this an artificially enhanced bias that synthetics are inferior in that they diminish the quality of beauty that the rugs have? Or do we look at them for what they really are? Do the price at auction determine how beautiful a piece of work is? Is beauty, like virtue, these days, measured only in monetary terms and beyond which there is no other acceptable means to justify the value?
(To clarify the point I am trying to make: virtue is not worth much in itself, financially and it seldom wins much respect except skeptism. So beauty is not beauty unless it costs a lot by a group of individuals who are able to drive up the prices) Are even our sense of aesthetic expression and appreciation enslaved by dollars and cents?


Subject  :  Re:Synthetic dye issue
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  11-12-2001 on 01:20 a.m.
Hi Eden,

The aesthetics of an object are internal to the observer. The things that determine aesthetic appeal are similar for most of us, but that's because most of us (the people who look in on this website) have a related aesthetic sense. The overwhelming majority of the world's people have little or no interest in rugs, and have aesthetic preferences quite different than ours. As shocking as it is to rug neurotics, the total number of antique rugs in the hands of collectors is probably much smaller than the number of Pakistani "Princess Bokhara" rugs produced and sold every single year.

Among the factors rug collectors consider is the monetary value of a piece. It isn't the whole story, but it is a factor for everyone. The things that determine value aren't always rational (if they are ever rational; collecting is not a rational activity), and trying to put a completely rational face on the matter inevitably leads to the kind of frustration you're experiencing.


Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:Synthetic dye issue
Author  :  bob kent mailto:%20bobkent10@yahoo.com
Date  :  11-12-2001 on 02:57 a.m.
I've often read that attractive pieces "tainted" by a few spots of synthetics can be a good buy for someone driven by aesthetics more than age and rarity. This advice, along with the market for fragments, discussions over whether a basically attractive color may be chemical,etc., clarifies the extra-aesthetic interests of experienced collectors.

I wonder if the appreciation of natural dyes isn't in some ways similar to the liking of other organic, archaic stuff: you can still get a wood steering wheel and leather seats in a Jaguar; cotton, silk, and wool trump polyester in clothing; etc...

So what's the role of the curator?: give the people what they paid for, versus subversive insertion of a piece or two making curatorial comments....

Subject  :  Re:Synthetic dye issue
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  11-12-2001 on 03:20 a.m.
Dear bob et al -

It is true that an argument can be made that the only real serious question about dyes is how the resulting colors "look," and in truth part of the preference among collectors for pieces with naturual dyes only, is their feeling that such dyes in fact look better than do even the best synthetic dyes.

But the situation is actually a bit more complicated than that. It is also felt by many collectors that material woven in the 18th century or the first half of the 19th century is often of noticeably higher quality on a number of dimensions than most of the pieces woven, say after 1850.

Since synthetic dyes were invented in the 1860's and being used widely in the rug producing areas, in the last quarter of the 19th century, the likely presence of a synthetic dye in a piece makes it impossible for a collector to say a phrase we dearly love to say.

That is, "Perhaps before 1850..."


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Synthetic dye issue
Author  :  Marvin Amstey mailto:%20mamstey1@rochester.rr.com
Date  :  11-12-2001 on 06:11 a.m.
Auction price guides for certain rugs are not reliable in excluding synthetic dyes. I have seen a number of thick, plush Caucasians with obvious bright orange or small amounts of other harsh dyes sell for big 5 figures; probably because of condition, or maybe someone thought they could reknot the funny-colored areas. Nonetheless, the prices were high.

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