Learning About Abrash Color Variations in Rugs
Authentic Oriental rugs are handmade with hand-spun yarn rather than being made by a machine. The very nature of handmade rugs gives them a unique pattern that includes variations in color, shades and hues. These color variations are known as Abrash (pronounced ‘Ah-brash’) and are one of the hallmark characteristics of authentic Oriental rugs. Abrash rugs are particularly true of older or and tribal nomadic rugs.
When dealing with legitimate abrash coloration, specific areas of solid color will actually have a variety of gradation. These variations will mostly appear as striated horizontal bars or bands, but other shapes or type variations are also possible. In some cases abrash variations may be only the most minute shading difference, while in other cases, they can be quite distinctive and stand out boldly.
Modern contemporary rugs often attempt to duplicate these color variations. Even the manufacturers of new machine-made rugs may try to added them in, but are rarely successful. The colors in machine-made rugs will always be far more consistent and pretty exact. The reason for this is that machines are far more precise than human beings. The human eye, tools and means that hand crafters use to make their wares is often far less precise. This leads to a far more natural and imperfect look than rugs that were created with a machine.
What does the word “Abrash” Mean?
The word “Abrash” means rainbow / spectrum in Farsi. In Oriental rugs, the term is used to describe the visible variations and changes in color of the rug’s front facing pile.
What causes the abrash to appear in the first place?
For the most part, abrashes are created due to variations in individual batches of dye, or individually dyed batches of yarn. While the colors may look the same at the time that the rug was woven, all human created carpet dye lots vary a little bit. As a result, over the years, each batch will mellow out and fade a little differently. This results in the “abrash affect” – different striated shades of the same base color.
Does Abrash mean that the rug is defect or poorly made?
While some people may look at the abrash coloration and think of them as “imperfections,” in reality, they are not defects at all. Instead, they are the innate characteristic of dye variables that naturally occur when materials are handmade and hand dyed. While some may prefer the more flat and uniform look like those of a machine-made replica, most others will prefer the original and unique distinctions that the hand weaving process brings out. To these individuals, the striated abrash coloration add a distinctive beauty to the rugs and carpets and make them a far more valuable and treasured work of art. In fact, most of the best connoisseurs and rug collectors value the unique beauty that the abrash coloration offer.
Abrashes are so appreciated that many of today’s manufacturers, who are producing some of the highest quality rugs, often put a great deal of time and energy trying to recreate this distinctive look. While they may accomplish this with varying degrees of success, there is still nothing quite as valuable or beautiful as an original handcrafted antique or semi antique rug. In fact, collectors of rugs are often particularly drawn to the most creative and warm abrash found in antique rugs.
If you are considering purchasing an antique or oriental rug for your home, it is important to be aware that the markings that you may at first take to be mistakes, imperfections, repairs or restoration, may actually end up being very markings that often give antique carpets the greatest value.
When buying rugs, inspect them to determine the origin of the color variations. Keep in mind that the striated abrashes may be part of the intended original design, variations in dye lots, different batches of yarn, a natural result of the aging process, or sun fading.
Regardless, abrashes are like fingerprints. No two are alike and each one is uniquely special.