When you’re shopping for rugs, you may notice slight colour variations. Some people mistakenly believe these are undesirable characteristics, but they can be a sign of an authentic Oriental rug. These variations are known as abrash, one of several indicators of a genuine Oriental rug.
They are not flaws but rather evidence of authenticity. Antique rug collectors often regard abrash as an appealing feature since it demonstrates that it was coloured using natural dyes. Keep on reading to find out more about abrash in rugs.
What is Abrash?
Regarding oriental rugs, abrash refers to a colour change in the wool yarns used in the rug’s weave. This change can happen because of uneven dyeing, which can create a salt-and-pepper effect or cause certain rug areas to be lighter or darker than others. This is a normal characteristic of genuine oriental rugs, especially handmade or aged over time.
Handmade, genuine oriental rugs have distinctive features distinguishing them from machine-made rugs and reproductions. These rugs are unique because they are crafted by hand using handspun yarn, resulting in variations in their appearance.
Oriental rugs display natural colour variations or abrash, within a single colour or colour field like blues, reds, browns, etc. These variations may appear as horizontal bands or bars and other shapes or sections of colour variations. Depending on the rug, abrash can range from a subtle shade difference to bold variations in certain colours. Some modern machine-made rugs attempt to replicate this distinctive abrash in traditional oriental rugs.
Colour variations in oriental rugs called abrash are not defects. Some antique rug enthusiasts consider them a sign of authenticity. Abrash indicates that natural dyes were used in making the rug.
Reason Why Oriental Rugs Have It
Abrash is a term used to describe the natural variation in colour that occurs in handmade oriental rugs. This effect is most visible in hand-spun wool and natural dyes rugs. The fibres in handspun wool naturally vary in diameter, which causes them to absorb dyes differently and create a slightly different overall colour. The colour variation becomes even more apparent because natural dyes come in separate batches and are never precisely the same.
Contemporary rug makers often use artificial techniques, making it difficult to find authentic abrash. Natural dyes are also less common, with synthetic options used more frequently for wool colouring. The uniformity of fibre size and shape resulting from industrial wool spinning further decreases the availability of genuine Oriental rugs with abrash. As rugs with abrash are typically handmade, enthusiasts highly value them, so antique rugs often command higher prices than new ones.
Oriental rugs often feature deliberate abrash that enhances their aesthetics and appeal. Despite this intentional use, a discussion among rug enthusiasts still exists on whether the abrash is accidental or deliberate.
Dye Lots and Wool Spinning Inconsistency
Because small tribal rug weavers have limited resources, they take months to finish a hand-woven rug. They mix dyes in small amounts and spin the wool in smaller batches to cope. Due to inconsistent quality and source of the wool used, the resulting colours can vary in shade and intensity. These variations reflect the migration patterns of the rug weavers and artisans.
Thorough Cleaning Can Show Abrash
If a rug is dirty on the surface, it can obscure the natural colour variations of the pile. Professional rug cleaning involves grooming the pile and removing surface dirt to reveal the true colour and abrash variations. It’s important to remember that these variations were present during the rug’s production.
After cleaning it, it’s normal to see slight changes in the direction of a handmade rug’s pile. These changes can cause pile variation and abrash, but they are not flaws. Instead, they are unique characteristics that make handmade rugs authentic and distinct, and they can be affected by factors like dye batches and other variables.
➜ Related: Persian Rug Cleaning: The Ultimate Guide
Is Abrash a Flaw or a Unique Feature of the Artwork?
Handmade and hand-dyed materials may have uneven colouring, which some may consider imperfections. However, these variations are natural, not flaws but the result of the dyeing process. Unlike machine-made items, handmade items have unique and original features, which most people appreciate.
Rug enthusiasts value the abrash colouring in carpets and rugs as it enhances their beauty and increases their value as a work of art. Additionally, many experienced rug collectors recognise the unique aesthetic appeal of the abrash colouring.
Collectors highly value antique and semi-antique handmade rugs with warm and artistic abrash. Despite the efforts of modern rug makers to replicate their unique look, nothing can match the beauty and worth of an authentic antique rug.
When purchasing an antique or oriental rug for your home, remember that what appears to be errors or flaws, repairs or restoration work may be the markings that boost the rug’s value significantly.
Some people see rug abrash as imperfections, but unique colour variations make each rug special. Like fingerprints, no two abrash are the same. Whether an abrash is considered an imperfection or a beautiful aspect of a rug’s handmade nature is subjective.
Embrace its unique look and the character it brings to your rug. Abrash can be helpful when decorating since the change in colour tone means it’s not necessary to match colours perfectly.
Abrash vs Sun Fading
Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between abrash, a natural colour variation, and sun fading on a rug. However, there are methods to identify if a rug has abrash or has been damaged by sun fading.
To distinguish between natural abrash and sun fading damage in an oriental rug, check the back of the rug in the same area where the colour variation is visible on the front. If there is no difference in colour on the back, it is probably sun fading because it doesn’t go through the whole rug. However, remember that sure oriental rugs or parts of them may not have dye penetrating through the rug foundation.
Our next step involves examining the pile of the rug by separating it. If the colour appears more intense towards the middle or lower portions of the wool, this suggests that sun fading is the probable cause of the colour variation. However, if the colour looks consistent throughout the pile, then it’s likely that the rug has abrash.
Should I Opt to Buy A Rug with Abrash?
Rug dealers and enthusiasts regard abrash as a positive thing when examining rugs. It helps them establish the rug’s authenticity and manufacturing technique. This is because abrash is not present in machine-made rugs.
Handmade rugs have a genuine and unique quality that cannot be found in machine-made rugs that often attempt to copy colour variations but end up looking similar.
Although some collectors, interior designers, and homeowners prefer uniform rugs, experts do not view abrash as a flaw. Your preferences and taste should determine whether abrash suits your rug and home. It’s worth noting that all handmade oriental and antique rugs have imperfections, which enhance their charm.
Rug enthusiasts find the varying colour shades visually pleasing. Mechanically made rugs may contain fake colour variations, but they are less expensive, mass-produced, lack uniqueness, and may not be of good quality.
Abrash or Not, Bijan Has It All
Could it be possible for something to be considered too perfect? In the antique rug industry, there seems to be a desire for rugs with imperfections, such as abrash, which are indicative of being handmade by actual individuals. Currently, both handmade and machine-made rugs intentionally incorporate these perfect imperfections.
Ironically, even with today’s advanced textile science and industry, deliberate imperfections are being added to rugs, including new synthetic machine-made area rugs, through the abrash technique.
At Bijan Rugs, we offer a wide selection of handmade rugs. Whether you prefer abrash rugs or not, our collection has something for everyone. We’ve got antique carpets from around the world, and our team can help you find the right one to fit your home décor and needs.
We are passionate about rugs and work hard to deliver the best service when you shop with us. Contact us if you have any questions or need more information about our products. We look forward to helping you find a unique piece for your home!