Natural or vegetable dyes

(Posted on 29/07/17)

Natural or vegetable dyesDerived from a number of vegetable, animal and mineral sources, which frequently originated locally, although they are now often imported from other areas. Some natural pigments are intrinsically fugitive and were only used in the past because they were the best available, but many produce a quality of colour and tone-especially as they begin to mellow with age- that is far superior to that of even the best chemical alternatives around today. However, there are some colours (e.g.,greens and purples) for which there are very few suitable natural sources and the dyer has to combine two or more pigments in order to produce the required colour or tone. This cannot always be successfully repeated. Some natural dyes are also expensive or difficult to obtain and even ones that are cheap and plentiful such as indigo,  may have the inherent problem of not necessarily producing the exact same shade of colour because of the differing amounts of pigment in each plant. Many collectors cherish these variations in tone as being an integral part of kilim's individuality and ethnic charm. However, department stores and other major retail outlets often require a standard of quality control that does not allow for any individual tonal variations.                                                                                      Natural dyes are still used extensively by tribal weavers, either on their own or in combinations with synthetic dyes. Generally most tribal (and a number of regional) weavers will have used natural dyes for most of their basic colours -reds, blues, etc.-with perhaps synthetic dyes for some of the supplementary shades.