We are asked often to explain fading and color inconsistencies in a particular piece. The featured rug displays “abrash” and it is one of our favorite stories to tell. Abrash is the horizontal fading seen on almost every handmade rug.
Note that it always occurs in horizontal patterns, following the weft of the rug. This is the direction that the weaver knotted the design in.
Abrash is an expected characteristic, not a flaw. It is a beautiful, story telling element and sure to be a conversation starter at your next dinner party. During the course of shearing, dying and weaving, there are variables that contribute to inconsistencies in color. Quite basically, wool is sheared from multiple sheep, some dark and some light. Further, the wool itself contains a natural oil, called lanolin, that varies from sheep to sheep. Differences in lanolin levels result in different color fastness.
Another way that color changes is through the dye mixing itself. Color was mixed by hand, and much like art, it is not an exact science that is meticulously measured. From batch to batch, colors are made in a raw, intuitive fashion. Imperfections were often purposely put in a rug to show the human element as well.
We can only begin to guess why the abrash occurred in a particular piece and that wonder is part of the mystery and beauty of a rug.