Dear Mr. Williams,
I have old rugs given to me by my mother when she moved to a retirement community and I would like to know how to use them in my home. One of the rugs has different shades in the background and in the other some of the colors are faded. In the smaller rug there are 2 or 3 worn areas. I’ve included a photo of each. Are these rugs damaged? If not, why is the color so different in the same rug? Can these rugs be used together in the same space?
Sincerely, Roberta Hood
Dear Mrs. Hood,
The two rugs you have are referred to, generally, as Oriental rugs. Each is hand woven. One uses natural dyes and the other employs synthetic dyes. The larger rug, an Azeri, was woven in Turkey in the early 1990’s. It uses natural dyes and, as you see, not all the wool matches in shade or color. This variation is called “abrash” and is a term associated with change of tone in a color and shows mainly in the ground color. It occurs when a weaver finishes a skein of one color and proceeds using a second skein of the same color but of a slightly different shade. It is usually visible in a straight line across the width of the rug and is regarded as a positive rather than a negative feature. Abrash is the result of small-bath dyeing and indicates that the rug was made by one weaver. Abrash is one of those “imperfections” that handmade Oriental rugs are “supposed” to have. In fact, many very sophisticated weavers and dyers have abrash deliberately inserted into the design of their carpets. The rug you have is a very fine example of the new rugs being woven in Turkey by weaver-artists striving to revive nineteenth-century village patterns and natural dyes This has created an economic boom in the region and stimulated rug buying in the West.
The second rug is a Kazak. It was probably made around the middle 1880’s or the early 1890’s. Kazak is part of the northern area of the Western Caucasus near Eastern Turkey and Southern Georgia in the Russian Federation. It’s rugs are famous for bold patterns, vivid color and strong design. These rugs have a long pile and are made of lustrous wool. In this rug, the weft, the base fiber inserted across the width of the rug, is often dyed red and the selvages may be woven in more than one color. You have a wonderful rug and the very small worn areas will not make the rug less usable.
I am a firm believer in the “collection” philosophy. I love to see clients with different style Oriental rugs within the same space. That said, there are a few things to consider when adding to your collection. The patterns need not match exactly but you do want to make sure the scale and proportion of one pattern enhances the other. Don’t put a very soft-colored floral French style Savonnerie carpet next to a bold Iranian Bakhitiari type rug. Select styles that are similar and colors that are in the same family. The other thing to consider is size. The furnishing should sit on the rug no surround it. If the rug is so small it isn’t covered by any furniture is has the look of not really belonging to the setting. It also looks as if you couldn’t or wouldn’t afford a rug large enough for the space.
As a professional interior designer I am not an expert on Oriental rugs. I know types and styles of rugs but depend on the men and women with whom I work to direct me and my client to the appropriate rug for any given interior. I love dealing with rugs from other parts of the world. I begin to understand a little more about their way of life and enjoy using the rugs to help tell a unique story within an interior.