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Quick Info on Age, Dyes and Bonded/Child Labour



We come across many blogs which feature information about area rugs.  While many make astute observations with excellent information, there are others which need clarification.

Here's some info we want to make abundantly clear for the reading public when it comes to information on oriental rugs:

"Antique rugs (an antique rug is defined as a rug 50 yrs and older), will likely have been made using natural dyes, since synthetic dyes were not readily available until the 1920’s."

Antique rugs as accepted by old Customs import and export laws once defined an antique rug to be 100+ years of age.  Museums, private collectors and reptuable dealers alike will all consider an "antique rug" to be 100+ years of age.  Semi-antique is 50-99 years of age. Also see Rug Age.

As for dyes, "synthetics" were avaiable as early as the 1870's.  In Persia, many of the earlier dyes were quickly outlawed as they were deemed inferior.  While a very small percentage weavers would dye wool with synthetic dyes between 1870-1900, production with implimentation of synthetic dyes did not become very prevalant until in/around 1900.  Many, many rugs around 1900 still exist today with synthetic dyes.  While not all were synthetic, it's not uncommon to find a fair percentage which did use them.  While somewhat frowned upon during this time, it's well accepted the use of synthetic dyes steadily increased between 1900-1940. Synthetic dyes since made tremendous strides since, and in many cases, are virtually indistinguishable by sight and tone from natural.

As the quoted information above in italics suggests, ages should not be an indicator of dyes used.

"Nearly 300,000 children are exploited in the carpet industry in South Asia to weave carpets for American homes. There is only one way to ensure that any rug you purchase was NOT made using child labor…ask to see the Rugmark label."

While the Oriental Rug industry has been battered by much scruitiny of weaver age, the fact is anti-child labor foundations are not the end-all-be-all for determining whether or not a rug was woven by children.  Additionally, it's important to note there is a significant difference between "child labor" and "bonded labor."  Weaving is a very important aspect of culture and tradition in weaving in many countries.  What many may consider "child labor" in other countries is really not entirely different than children here in the states helping out on a farm for example.  Bonded labor, however, is a problem: Although it is not necessarily as rampant as some would suggest.  Many "foundations" may stake the claim the only way to ensure children were not used in production is to purchase a rug with their branding. Although the importance of making responsible rug purchases is paramount, we believe there are many organizations spending significantly more money promoting their service through video and paid advertising than actually "regulating" bonded labor.  Many, many importers of Oriental Rugs are more than adamant their rugs not be created using either child or bonded labor.  Best thing to do is inquire, and purchase from a reputable merchant.  Many falacies run rampant on the internet, suggesting only the finest rugs may be woven by children as only small fingers may create small knots.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Only master weavers with extreme technique and understanding of carpet weaving may produce the finest of rugs. Also see Rug Myth Vs. Fact.


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