Materials, Dyes, and Tools


The materials used in genuine Persian and Oriental rugs are chiefly wool or silk knotted onto a cotton or wool or silk foundation. Sheep wool is a natural fiber commonly used in carpet making, although in some cases goat hair or camel hair is used as well. The breed and age of the sheep, the season when sheared, the climate and surrounding environment are all factors that determine the quality of wool. These qualities are its thickness, texture and color. Sheep from mountain regions have longer fleece. Winter fleece produces thicker and heavier wool, while spring fleece is softer and finer. Lambs aged 8 to 14 months produce some of the finest wool called “kork”.



The process of changing the natural color of materials such as wool, silk, and cotton is called dyeing. There are two types of dyes: “Natural Dyes” and “Synthetic Dyes”.

Natural Dyes : Until the late nineteenth century only natural dyes were used for coloring weaving yarns. Natural dyes include Plant Dyes, Animal Dyes, and Mineral Dyes. Plant Dyes come from roots, flowers, leaves, fruit, and bark of plants. The art of dyeing has had a tradition of prestige and mystery. Practically every family has its own special formula, which is carefully guarded and passed on through generations.

Synthetic Dyes : Aniline dye, Fuchsine (a magenta aniline), was invented in the mid 19th century. Synthetic aniline dyes made from coal tar were brilliant, inexpensive, and easy to use; however, they faded rapidly with exposure to light and water. In early 20th century chrome dyes were developed. They are colorfast and do not hurt the wool. The need for easy-to-use and less expensive dyes with wider range of colors caused the development of synthetic dyes in Europe and especially in Germany.

Today, mostly chrome synthetic dyes are used for coloring weaving yarns. Natural dyes are used in places where they are easily obtainable. Sometimes the two are combined together in the same rug, and the weavers use the best type of dye available to them. In some cases they can find good quality dyes in nature, and in other cases they get better results from the synthetic dyes.



There are different tools being used in this industry by common weavers such as looms, design plate, knife, scissors, spindle, hook and comb.


A loom is a frame, which holds the rug together while it is being woven. The most common looms are “Horizontal Looms” and “Vertical Looms”.

Horizontal Looms : these looms are part of the Nomad heritage. Carpets made on these looms are unusually sturdy. The Nomadic horizontal loom is portable and dismantles easily. Its size limits the finished carpet size to a width of four or five feet.

Vertical Looms : A much finer weave is possible on a vertical or upright loom. Vertical looms are specific to village and workshop rugs, and their assembly is more complicated than horizontal looms.

Fixed Loom, Tabriz Loom and Roller Beam Loom are other kinds of vertical looms being used today.