Being Green – Bukhara

In researching for an appraisal and replacement value for a green Bukhara, I thought I would address both items.

Why green dye in handmade rugs is so costly and used sparingly?? This question has often crossed my mind and I decided to do inquiry into the subject. The major reasons have to do with preparation and philosophy. Philosophy when it comes to handmade rugs from Islamic regions green is considered a sacred color. Green was the color associated with the Prophet Mohammed and is said to refer to hope and paradise. Most highly skilled weavers make use of this shade in their creations. For example, in Persian rugs, like the fine Tabriz fish designs that use a hue of green that is often called pistachio and they use it in small quantities. Green fields in Oriental rugs are quite rare and since it is a holy color, it is seldom walked upon, and yellow requires saffron, which is expensive. Are many other plants that can make green with saffron being the richest. The rugs of China often have a deep forest green in their color palette though this is a chemical dye.

Bukhara Rugs “Pakistani Bokhara” is used to describe modern Tekke-faced rugs made in Pakistan, which are among the most popular handmade rugs in the world. The most important of the Turkoman tribes in the nineteenth century was the Tekke. They occupied most of the habitable part of what is now the Turkoman S.S.R. (Turkmenistan). During the first half of the century, their territory expanded to engulf that of other tribes, the Salor and later the Saryk in the valley of the Murghab between the Merv (Mary) oasis and the Afghan frontier. Bukhara Rugs are usually made by nomads on horizontal transportable looms with a different weave to Pakistani Bokharas and generally are based on the Senneh knot (referred to as “double knot” in Pakistan). The wool pile of the rugs is far shorter than Pakistani Bokharas and the design is more intricate, requiring a higher density of knots.

The colors of the Central Asian Bokharas are also predominantly rust, red, and brown. The feel of the pile is generally tighter and denser because of different wool and greater clipping of the pile. Both vegetable dye and synthetic dye Central Asian Bokharas can be found. It is also widely believed that the Tekke tribe used some design techniques they learned from the Salor tribe. The rugs from the Tekke tribe were mostly traded in markets located in Bukhara. Eventually, these rugs just acquired the name of the city where they were commonly traded. However, in some parts these rugs are still known as “Tekkes” but not in the United States. Bukhara rugs are now made in many countries and the design is even duplicated in machine-made rugs. Some countries still hand-knotting the Bukhara design are Pakistan, Iran, India, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Often featuring a distinctive elephant foot motif in their original incarnation, it’s fair to say this type of rug has remained globally popular for centuries. Central Asian Bokharas are known for their beauty, high quality, and durability. Using a combination of NZ worsted and local Pakistani wool on a cotton base, the Pakistani Bokhara has a very soft and thick pile. The length of the pile varies depending on the clipping of the rug. Sometimes the pile is intentionally left significantly longer, called a “double pile”, resulting in extra thickness and depth – although there is a trade-off with the clarity of the pattern. The Tekke illustrated has several features which suggest early nineteenth-century dating. It has less than 300,000 knots/m2 (194 knots/in2), counting 40 knots to the decimeter (about 10 per inch) across the width and 72 per DCM (about 18 per inch) along the length in the typical flat-backed double-weave structure. Tekke-faced rugs are still made by weavers in and around the city of Bokhara in Central Asia, although these are more difficult to find. There are different styles of Bukhara’s depending on where they are made but they will all be dominated by rows of guls that have geometric designs surrounding the guls. Some will have more variety of colors, use wool or silk foundation yarns instead of cotton, leave the pile height longer, or use different styles of knots. However, they are all still considered Bukharas because of the design.

Green occupies more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye than most colors and is second only to blue as a favorite color. Green is abundant in the natural world, making it popular in interior design because we are so used to seeing it everywhere. The natural greens, from forest to lime, are seen as tranquil and refreshing, with a natural balance of cool and warm undertones as it is a mix of blue and yellow. Green is considered the color of peace and ecology. There is the institutional green, associated with illness and government-issued green cards, that brings negative emotions like slimy or green with envy Some of the positive effects are it soothers mentally, as well as physically. Seeing the color is known to help alleviate depression, nervousness, and anxiety. A good shade of green offers us a sense of inner harmony with renewal and self-control.

The reason why dyers make green less frequently is because there are no natural dyes that in one step will create green. It is traditionally made by dyeing the fibers both yellow and blue and in either order of sequence. Dyers over time learned to combine different colors of yellow to create a variety of hues. Take the time to observe the green color in a vegetable-dyed rug, you can see a range in color and it is uneven having more blue-green in some areas, and more yellow-green in the rest.

• A yellow mordant dye is used then a blue oxidation step is applied.

• Indigo is dyed on the fibers first, and then an alum mordant, then one of the many yellow plants that can make it green.

The second process is usually favored because the development of how deep the color is can easily be watched more closely. In our modern world, we understand this process as we finally have the tools necessary to analyze exactly how these colors are made with in-depth chemical analysis,

This ability has taken a bit of the mysticism and the required apprenticeship time to learn these secret recipes away from the process. Therefore much information about how and with what we made dyes is not common knowledge in literature in the textile realm until recently, as no one could be 100% until proper chemical analysis could be conducted. Not until the 1930s did we begin to experiment and understand how textiles since ancient times have been dyed.