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The Origins of Natural Dyes

Ever wonder where that beautiful red in your rug comes from? If your rug is colored with natural dyes then it could likely come from small insects called Cochineal or Kermes. Natural dyes are often used in hand area rugs because of their bright, lasting colors and the beautiful variation in colors that makes a rug unique.

Although rugs and other fabrics have been dyed brilliant colors for thousands of years, synthetic dyes have only been developed in the past 200 years. Before the 19th Century, almost all dyes were derived from plants, animals or minerals. Here’s a list of the most common sources for natural dyes.

Red – Cochineal and Kermes (insects), madder, redwood bark and Brazil wood (plants), cinnabar and lead oxide (mineral).

Orange – Henna (plant)

Yellow – saffron, safflower, tummeric weld and many other plant sources, ocher (mineral)

Green – a mix of blue and yellow dyes, or malachite (mineral)

Blue – Woad (plant), lapis lazuli and asurite (mineral)

Purple – Although purple can come from mixing red and blue dyes, the Royal Purple that is famous in royalty comes from the secretions of a sea snail. Since this purple is exceptionally rare and expensive it was saved for the highest classes.

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  • Carpet Cleaning Comp

    That insects, too, were instrumental in the origin of natural dyes was a revelation.

  • Classic Carpet and U

    Those who are looking into carpet cleaning could find the origin of dyes interesting. Thank you for posting this information!