i'd like to present some pictures of a caucasian (shahsavan?) mafrash i acquired a short time back.
it has (i am 99% sure) natural dyes - and there's quite a range - in fact i count 13 - ivory, brown, 3 reds, purple, pink, gold, yellow, 2 greens, and 2 blues.
the images i post are fairly accurate in terms of colour though the scarlet (madder?) red has proved impossible to capture accurately. it is close to what you may see though warmer, if that makes sense.
in the hand, these panels appear far better than on screen. however,one would almost be tempted to call this mafrash 'garish' as the dyes are so clear and bright. the front has mellowed well compared to the back - partly through sunlight and partly through usage (dirt, etc)
i bought this piece because it is a whole mafrash (something i had always wanted) and was reasonably priced. it does have a lot of damage (holes, rips, etc) that you may not see but overall i think still presents ok.
included in the numerous colours is an interesting purple. i would not call it aubergine as it is not that dark. it seems to me to be a madder derived purple. we all know that purple dyes are desirable and generally indicate age in pieces. i must admit that i have not seen a similar flatweave mafrash with a purple like this. but something in my brain tells me this piece is not super old.
i'd be interested in people's opinions of this piece - aesthetics, age, dyes, attribution, etc. and if anyone has similar panels.
constructive criticizm most welcomed :-)
I’m a bit in a hurry but can’t refrain from asking (before somebody else does): aren’t those felt pens the ones on the top of your mafrash???
Natural greens are usually made by consecutively dying with indigo and a yellow dye. The indigo abrades off the fibers fairly easily, and leaves patches of yellow in the spots where that happens. The closeup of the green areas in your mafrash don't seem to have flecks of yellow. For that reason, I think it's likely to be from a synthetic dye. Some of the other colors look like they are from synthetic dyes as well (pink, purple, gold), but computer monitor images can be deceptive.
Mafrash are among the few tribal weavings that are actually practical in modern homes. We have a local woodworking place make tables and trunks to fit them. Makes display easy, and gives us places to stash the small pieces that we don't have room for on our walls.
filiberto - indeed they are felt tip pens. i am a language teacher :-)
i am in korea at the moment in a very small apartment so i tend to dump stuff anywhere and everywhere.
steve - i can assure you these dyes are natural. the dyes are all extremely saturated.
the pink is the only dye that i am not so familiar with but there is nothing to suggest it is synthetic. it's very hard to capture the warmth of the colours on a monitor.
I don't know whether the dyes are synthetic or natural. I could believe either. I take Steve's point about the green, but I don't think it is dispositive of the question. Looking at the value of the yellow in the piece and the green as well, I can see that yellow producing that green when dyed over blue.
In fact, your piece exemplifies an issue that I encounter and ponder frequently. It is the set of colors that looks good, and could have been produced from natural dyestuffs, but could also represent good quality synthetics, perhaps chrome dyes. Notwithstanding my disparaging comments about synthetic dyes in the other thread, I am aware that modern dye technology is capable of producing a great range of colors in dyes that perform at a high level in terms of their application to carpet wools. I have an idea what I think I have to look for in these colors, and a sense of what rugs are apt to use them: sophisticated Persian workshop rugs, for example. I have a typical 9 X 12 Kashan center medallion and corners rug of about 1950-1960, and I am sure most if not all of the several colors are chrome dyes. It looks fine to me.
The more bemusing situations, however, are pieces like yours. Because of the mafrash format, one does not immediately think about chrome dyes. Yet, they could be what are in the piece. I recall one or two articles by Paul Mushak in Oriental Rug Review a number of years ago in which he commented on the results of some chemical analyses he had carried out on rug dyes. Among the comments were that many colors will fool the eye in either direction on the question of synthetic or natural; and he tested some in which synthetic was dyed over natural.
I will be interested in the comments of those with keen and experienced eyes regarding your good looking mafrash.
Hi Rich and Richard
My comments weren't intended to be definitive. All I've got is images on a computer monitor; Richard has the piece in his hands. He's in a much better position to judge than I am, for that reason. On the other hand, if the criterion for natural vs. synthetics is the Experienced Eye (which it almost always is), I think certainty about dyes being all natural is unwarranted no matter whose eye it is.
Hi Richard T.
To tell the truth, the colors looked better on my laptop screen than now, on my desktop CRT monitor.
If your mafrash is Caucasian, it could be from Tausch or Lori in actual Armenia or from Shirvan - see Nooter’s “Flatwoven Rugs & Textiles from the Caucasus”.
hi filiberto, all
thanks for the feedback. i have nooter's book, but it's in australia at the moment.
filiberto - i was thinking karabagh but that is just a guess. i think you may be right about tausch (this design seems popular in that area).
incidentally, i was looking at the piece again last night an made a new discovery. the detail white reinforcing around the main medallions (see pic 2 for example) is made from finely spun cotton and not wool as i had earlier assumed. the other colored detail reinforcing (eg the light blue around the red in pic 2) is dyed wool.
i think this is one piece that would have to be handled to appreciate the colours. i don't have a very good camera and when i look at the pictures onscreen, i find the colours somewhat 'flat'.
i would have to say, colour wise - in terms of saturated, crisp dyes - this mafrash has some of the best dyes i have seen in my 8 years of collecting. it's difficult to compare pieces too much as some have softer colours, others have colour with great patina, others with wonderful abrash etc. there is very little abrash in this piece - the dyes are so saturated. this mafrash does not have that shiny, patina look as do some other pieces i own.
i think too that the sheer number of colours tends to interfere with our attempts to visualise this piece as a whole. if one examines each colour individually, what you get is a warigeh of incredible dyes. the purple dye in this piece suggests to me that this piece is somewhat older than others with this design. the condition of the piece could support that - it has had a lot of work in its time!! and yet the dyes have not faded as one might expect. but tattered pieces do not necessarily denote age. neither do faded dyes.
it's been commented so many times that collectors prefer natural dyes. and yet i see so many pieces with VERY average natural dyes. others have good dyes but then there's one dye that totally destroys the piece (and it doesn't need to be a synthetic either) i recently bought a qashqi kilim - i love everything about it except a pathetic, ultra weak blue dye. natural but weak.
if anyone has an image, or images of 'good' chrome dyes, could they please post some examples. i would love to see chrome dyes that look similar to natural dyes (and i mean that sincerely, not sarcastically)
Well, since you have the book, I don’t have to scan it…
But, as you don’t have access to it, I can tell you that the Mafrash(es?) from the Shirvan region in Nooter’s have fewer colors while the ones from Tausch have a wider range, like yours (but no scarlet).
Nooter says that the Shirvan ones have a finer wave, which is contradicted by the fact that two examples of each group have the same 14 warps/56 weft per inch…
What about yours?
Another way for distinguishing the groups could be the “composition” of the striped bottoms. Brown and light yellow stripes of the same width like in yours are more common in the Borchaliu/Tausch/Lori region.
thanks for the info. i will need to pull out all my books when i get back.
re: weave, if i count correctly? the piece has roughly the same count as you suggest: i count 14 warps / 54 wefts (wefts are hard to count!)
the warps are 2 ply ivory and brown wool (finely spun).
Regarding your request for images of "good" chrome dyes: Nearly any textile made in a factory during the past 50 years or so is made from yarn dyed with chrome dyes. Any shop that sells fabrics, furniture, draperies, etc., will have lots of colors that you can look at. To my eyes, some look good, some don't. To see them on wool rugs, look at any of the more expensive machine made rugs (Karastan, for example). Many of them are knockoffs of antiques, some are pretty convincing if you don't get too close to them or look at the back.
Good point about the better grade machine mades. Some look pretty good.
just as a postscript comment, i contacted the dealer who sold this mafrash to me and asked him if he knew where it was from (as i assume he knows where his pickers source from)
he wrote back to say it is 'shirvan from kafkas'
does anyone know what kafkas is? a town? an ethnic group?
i did an internet search and came up with nothing.
by the way, i am viewing this on a different montitor and the colours look truly horrific !!!
Kafkas (= Kavkas) is Caucasus in several languages, including Turkish.
How come more people didn't state an opinion about whether Richard's colors were synthetic or natural? It's a good question, and it ties in with another thread that Kirsten Karrock put up about a South Persian piled piece. In the case of either image, if the dyes were synthetic, they were of good quality. Not all synthetic dyes are garish, prone to bleeding, or ugly.
I think most of us walk around with our personal rules for judging dyes "in the field." The monitor introduces a "wild card" factor, of course, but how about some opinions?