Posted by Robert Anderson on 05-01-2002 10:12 AM:

The Beetle-Black Color


I enjoyed your salon, particularly since I am interested in the dyes and colorants used in old oriental rugs. I hope that you won't mind addressing a related subject, but one somewhat outside of the main topic. How widespread was the use of the purple-black or “beetle-black” that you referred to? Was its use restricted to Central and Eastern Anatolia, or was it also used in other weaving areas such as the Caucasus and Azerbaijan? Can it be used along with other colors (and of course structure and design also) to suggest an approximate place and date of manufacture? As an example, I have a long-rug with a Saliyani design, which suggests that it belongs to the South East Caucasian, Talish-Lenkoran group. This rug seems to have the somewhat corrosive purple-black or "beetle-black" as the ground color in the minor borders. It also has 3 other purple colors, including aubergine (i.e., a reddish-purple), a true purple, and a dark purple-blue. Its other colors include two or three reds, a good orange and a good yellow too (possibly from weld), three blues, and dark green along with a little light green for a total of about 13-14 colors. The structure of this rug is also interesting, as it has aubergine wefts (2-8 picks), a flat back (almost Kazak-like) and three ply white wool warps which are finished at the end in bands of oblique wrapping (terminology of Marla Mallet). In your opinion, do the colors and structure of this piece tend to support or refute my belief that it is from the S.E. Caucasus?

Also, from your salon it appears that the secret of the beetle-black has been rediscovered, since the kilim you mentioned is to be restored using wool dyed in this color. How, where, and when did this rediscovery occur?

Best regards,


Posted by Michael Bischof on 05-01-2002 04:17 PM:

Hallo Robert Anderson,

forgive me ! Without having a picture plus some significant close ups of the piece that you mention I really cannot comment that.
My e-mail adress is


Michael Bischof

Posted by Steve Price on 05-01-2002 04:31 PM:

Hi Robert,

If you are able to send the images to me by e-mail, I can put them into our server and send you the web addresses. Then you can post them and add whatever comments you'd like.


Steve Price

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