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Sun Fade, Oxidation, Change in Dye Lots

If you have arrived at this page, it is dual purpose information intended for education and the use of our Rug Estimator Pro.  

Determining if your rug is sun faded, oxidized or has a change in dyes.

If colors do not coordinate in localized areas on both the front of the rug and the reverse side the rug is either oxidized, dirty or sun faded.  Use the tips below to determine what the culprit is!

      If the colors are darker on the back of rug than the front, it is probably Sun faded.

      When looking at the face of the rug, if all or some of the colors are "tarnished" or have a darker appearance on the front than the back, the carpet has most likely oxidized or dirty.

      If the colors match on both the front and reverse side, the carpet most likely has abrash or a significant change in dye lots 

Look for significant changes in color both isolated and allover.  Depending on the angle you look into the rug on the front, colors may vary slightly.  This is due in part to the orientation of the wool being tied into a knot rather than the seeing the tip of the wool on the front of the rug subject to the light and dark sides.  The side of the wool (reverse) tends to reflect more light, where as the tip of the wool (front pile) tends to absorb it. 

Sun Fade

Sun fade can transpire in as little as one year, or over a life time.  Whether the carpet is vegetable dyed or chromed dyed, one is not more resistant to Sun fade than the other. The rug below became sun-faded over the course of 25 years. Look at the left side of the below photograph (face of the rug.)  The red colors have faded considerably from a deep cranberry to a medium burnt orange.  The two green arrows coordinate with the similar area in the adjacent panel.  The two blue arrows identify the outlining and how diminished the color quality has become in coordinating areas.

Front Side Sun faded area vs. original colors on a Panel Design Bulgerian Carpet

The image below shows the same section of the rug above, but on the reverse side which has retained original colors.  Please note, this image is inverted horizontally to maintain consistency in design.  

Reverse side shows consistent color: no exposure to UV's From the Sun!

While the fibers of a Sun faded rug tend to show a significant change in original shade, the fading may only penetrate 1/16 of an inch or less.  As you can see by the photograph below, the color has almost entirely left the  pile tip.

Faded tips of a wool pile!


The carpet photographed below is a Persian Afshar approximately 80 years old.  The photograph was taken of the face of the carpet.  As you can see, except for the dark blue background, the colors are subdued.  However, the rug has not always had this tone! 

Old Afshar Persian Rug with heavy oxidation to the Face of the rug

Shown below is the same carpet on the reverse side. As you can see, the colors are not only richer and deeper, they are very different.  It is apparent that this rug has been subject to the combination of both Sun fade, and oxidation.

Reverse side of sun faded Afshar Rug

Original colors on the left, Faded, oxidized areas on the Right

The left side of the above photograph shows the reverse side of the carpet, and most probably how the carpet appeared when originally produced.  The right side of above photograph is the face of the rug which has been exposed to the elements. We see significant differences in color from the reverse.  Note how the reds have turned to pinkish beige, and the green turned to a teal.

Change in Dye Lots

This section is not in reference to abrash.  Although the below photograph could be considered a form of abrash, it is quite different.  Abrash is a characteristic or trait of weaving which is incorporated into a design usually carried throughout the rug. Conversely, as seen in the carpet below, there are times where the dye lots actually were changed during the rug weaving process. Although this may be considered a natural part of the handmade process, unfortunately this piece is not met by receptive buyers. 

For purposes of the Estimator Pro, the carpet below has a "hard and isolated" color change.  Notice how the lower two-thirds of the carpet's field are significantly lighter than that of the upper one-third.  This does have a direct affect on value in most oriental rugs.  If the border had this type of color change instead of the field, for purposes of the rug estimator pro, one would select "soft and isolated."

Heavy and Hard difference in dye lots on an Indian Interpretation of Persian Sarouk Design Carpet

Below is a close-up of the same carpet photographed above.  Although a pretty color and design, there is clearly a distinct color change.

Clear difference in Dye lots on Indian Rug

The photograph below is the reverse side of the same carpet as the one above which shows the face of the rug.

Reverse side of a rug with heavy discrepancies in dye lot

For additional information or one on one assistance please refer to our Rug Forum.



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