abrash is a term used to describe color variations found in select hand knotted and oriental rugs. Although such inconsistencies may be perceived as 'flaws' in coloration, abrash is actually a much more intimate and complex characteristic.
In the instance below, we can clearly see the light blue field of the carpet has striations running horizontally through the weaving. Subtle changes in color tone such as this example below is a typical example of abrash. In many ways, abrash can augment the sophistication of a weaving, with consistent colors atop a varying field; almost rendering a three dimensional feel.
While many suggest abrash may be found more often in the upper portion of a rug (top) due to lack of initial materials, this is not always the case. In both new and old rugs, abrash can be attributed to several different factors, and nearly any point of the weaving for multiple reasons:
- change in dye lots: When a rug is created, basic goods are acquired to begin. As the
weaving progresses, and materials are used, it's not uncommon additional
wool to be purchased on a as-needed basis, or as they may be
afforded. Such implimentation of new dye lots may not result in a perfect match.
- handspun wool: During the spinning process, some areas may become more tightly twisted than others. This can affect the rate of absorbtion and intensity of color when the material is dyed, rendering variations as well.
- A nod to the imperfection of humankind: It is widely known even the most perfect and seemingly rigid workshop rugs will have imperfections intentionally woven into the rugs to prove 'no one is perfect but God.'
Although some may find predicatable, consistent colors appealing, some of the finest, most valuable and sought after rugs and carpets of the world feature abrash. Aside from the aesthetic beauty of slight stretches of palette, many suggest abrash has even helped attribute two of the World's most reknown twin Oriental carpets (the Ardebil carpets) as having been woven at the same time, perhaps in the same room. Abrash is so specific to the natural hand made process of making rugs it has even been adapted by machine made rugs.
Abrash can be accentuated over time, although in today's newer weavings
it may be less likely. One unique example which is sometimes seen today
in select antique rugs: When fuchsine dye was introduced to rug
weaving in the early 20th century to attain a deep cranberry red, the
color may have matched perfectly to other colors in the weaving. Over
time and exposure to sun and other, the fuchsine would age to a very
pale dusty pink. If mixed with another lot of wool with similar color
but different dye, this may yield an abrash affect as well, although not
as originally forseen.
Ideally for 'workshop' rugs (as opposed to tribal or village), abrash would be throughout a rug and consistently varying as
opposed to hard, isolated and abrupt. However, both instances can render a
unique and beautiful examples.