We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
ABC Carpet in NYC has a major antique rug sale going on. It's fun to flip through the examples they put on their site. Real antique oriental rugs are made with vegetable dyes and not modern dyes which weaken the wool fibers. Few man-made things are more lovely, and you hate to put them in places where people will step on them with shoes because they can easily last a few more hundred years if treated properly.
(Thanks for corrections of my errors of fact, Commenters. I should never say anything about something I only know a little bit about...but if I stuck with that rule, I would never say a thing. The word "dilettante" has two connotations.)
On the left is an antique Turkish Konye; on the right is an antique Iranian Bakhtiari.
A couple of things:
i) Neither of the two rugs pictured is antique or even close.
ii)The Konya is certainly synthetic dyed,the Baktiar maybe.
iii) Dyes of any kind,synthetic or vegetable,don't damage the yarn with the exception of walnut,used to obtain black or dark brown,which is,over time,corrosive.
iv) Vegetable dyes are now commonly used at the high end of the rug market .Madder,indigo and saffron are,once again,cash crops in the producing countries and sold as dyestuffs to the yarn producers.
v) You have missed the most important aspect:the quality of a rug depends,essentially,on the quality of the yarn and the best yarn is handspun and that's one thing to look for when buying a rug.
Not saying bad about the mentioned retailer in NYC. However, some stores are good for certain goods, and others.... If you look hard enough and educate yourself about rugs, there are good finds to be had. I did an entry on Rug Rag not too long ago about some great deals ABC had for Gabbeh rugs. That's what I saw, so that's what I posted. However, browsing never hurts, and research is even better. Information is the most valuable commodity, right?
response to Peter T. : dyes are important, quality of wool is very important too. While handspun wool has it's great attributes and, as some would say, may aid in preservation of the wool's "natural stain repellent" lanolin.... There are too many facets to these rugs to say definitively "hand spun wool is the best." Throwing yarn by hand by no means qualifies the wool as having a longer staple, nor imply being derived from the more "choice" areas of sheep, which has far more to do with quality than simply "hand" spinning.
For the author Bird Dog: I'm happy to hear you love rugs, we do to. Real antiques (100+ years of age) are not always made with vegetable or natural dyes, modern dyes do not necessarily weaken the fibers either. Some synthetics were around for over 100 years, although said to be outlawed while some weavers continued to use them anyway. Many synthetic dyed rugs turn up around 1900, which still may qualify this 100 year milestone for what most reputable dealers, museums, collectors, etc. still give the nod to old internationally accepted Customs import Laws which defined rugs as being 100+ years of age to be considered "antique." Another thing worth mentioning: A surprising number of 100+ year old rugs are subject to hard chemical washes to soften colors even to accommodate today's market. This may affect the longevity too. So to imply antique rugs (or natural dye rugs as stated) will last longer is misinformation as PT mentioned... Please consider contacting us anytime for free info if you plan on posting more about rugs in the future.
Handspun yarn,by virtue of its uneven thickness,gives modern rugs,which typically show open space and minimal ornamentation,texture which can't be achieved with machine spun yarn.My preference for handspun yarn is aesthetic:as opposed to the mechanical perfection of a modern Tabriz,for example,colours and pile surface are less perfect and more forgiving.Dyes,too,take differently.All in all,the result is a more interesting textile.
Glad to hear you have an affinity for rugs too. You must be a collector with good taste. I don't disagree with your opinion that there is a great deal of interest with rugs which are constructed with hand spun wool as material input. However, hand spun wool can also be very consistent too.
You seem confident in what you like, but there are many facts for the public to consider in making an accurate purchasing decision. It's tough to throw a generalization out there such as handspun being the only thing to look for when you go buy a rug.
There is something called "machine hard twist" yarn? A hard twisted wool also has varying thickness, "limiting" dye absorption in harder twisted areas than looser. This often adds to the texture and ornamentation you referred to.
There are machines which literally twist the fiber to mimic characteristics to that of hand spinning. Often examples are an exaggeration of a human touch (partially driven by demand). However, *in looser twists by machines*, (to the untrained eye,) some may find it very tricky to differentiate the two. In fact, I would not be surprised if some sellers with experience would mistake this.
Additionally, a lot of sellers will take advantage of misconceptions. Often we see Chobi and Peshawar rugs advertised as "handspun" when to our eye it's clearly a machine twist. This does affect value, and with misinformation, buyer's perceived value of an item is skewed. That's a problem because it also hurts reputable vendors, not just the people shelling out money!