We move next to dyes, which generally come in two kinds: natural or artificial. Artificial dyes, also known as chemical colors, are factory produced on a mass industrial scale. Some are decent but for the most part they are commercial and do not last long. Natural or organic dyes, however, are the main part of any old carpet’s success. They are mostly of a vegetable origin but the most exclusive are derived from insects such as cochineal. Preparing natural dyes relied on ancient recipes passed down from father to son and jealously guarded. The dye maker, known as the sabbagh, would guard his recipes jealously and would gather his ingredients from the herbs and roots of the local area. Recipes for the basic colors varied from area to area, depending on the multiple components to each. This is why red, for instance, seems closer to burgundy or cherry in some places while in others it looks more like brick or peach red. With the passage of time, the colors of a carpet acquire a patina of age as they mellow out. How to explain this? This is a simple scientific process called oxidation whereby the oxygen molecules in our atmosphere react with certain chemical in the natural dyes (which after all have a chemical composition like everything else around us) and in a way the latter “evaporate” leaving the wool or silk looking slightly softer. On the artistic side, we have the design of a carpet. A pattern in rural or tribal societies was usually memorized and passed down across generations from mother to daughter. This is why we see great uniformity in the design of nomadic rugs like those of the Turkmen, while allowing for the individuality of expression of each weaver. At times—very, very rarely—the more proficient weavers would weave a sampler rug known as a vagireh that contained the basic elements of field and border design and give it to her daughter(s). These were never meant for commercial sale or use and therefore have become greatly prized and demanded today. In urban societies where carpets are made in professional workshops, their designs are themselves created by professional artists. In the past they were drawn on paper but today they are created using professional graphic design software.
Once these components are all locked in—the material science and the art—the weaver would then engage in engineering to create a carpet. This is a story for another day however!
The idea of purchasing valuable rugs and other artwork online from an overseas seller is daunting for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that, not being able to examine and feel the rug for yourself, you are never entirely certain that the origin, age or condition of the rug corresponds with the dealer’s description. For me, I could never take this step unless I had absolute trust in the integrity of the dealer, and my recent experience with Hadi confirms that my faith in him was well placed. Every detail of the antique rug expertly explained by Hadi was accurate and when I finally received the actual rug, it turned out to be even more stunning than his photos depicted. F. Alsagoff, Singapore
“You don’t just buy a rug from Dr Maktabi... It’s an experience, a rich one! You learn about history, culture & art. And more importantly you feel euphoric!” Dr Siamak Abolhassani, Expert Medical Care Clinics, Victoria, Australia 🇦🇺
You can't only be a customer of Hadi Maktabi. While his main purpose is rug dealing, he starts with story telling and ends with history selling. That's what I call high-end art curating and closing it all with an entertaining friendship. George El Hani, CEO Levica, Lebanon 🇱🇧