Inspired by Nature - The Incredible Art of Natural Rug Dyeing

For thousands of years, skilled artisans have hand-extracted hidden palettes featured deep within the roots, nuts, seeds and leaves of their local environment to create the incredibly broad and balanced palettes of vegetable dye rugs.

It’s incredible to think that these soft and desirable palettes often emulate the landscapes of the exotic locations where they are woven.

There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the colours that make up a handwoven vegetable dye rug, so for perspective, we have provided a rundown of how each colour is commonly sourced:

  • Red - Red dyes are commonly derived from the madder plant, utilising its roots by chopping them up and allowing them to dry to develop the best reds. The matter root is then ground down and liquified, to create the natural brick reds to deeper crimsons.
  • Another common source of red dyes is the cacti-eating cochineal insect. When ground down, carminic acid is extracted which creates rich red colour tones, similarly now used to create cosmetics and food colourings.
  • Blue - Just like your favourite pair of jeans, the leaves of the indigo plant are used to create the blue colours of a natural-dyed rug. Indigo dyes are also often used to create natural blacks, by double or triple dying wool.
  • Yellow - Derived from the achiote tree, Annatto seeds are pulverised to create a yellowish-orange dye colour. Interestingly, the wood shavings from the Osage Orange tree are also a common source of the natural yellow colour tonings we regularly see in vegetable dye rugs.
  • Green - The colour green is one of the rarer natural dyes which is attributed to the complexity of the production process as well as the difficulty of achieving a colour tone that is pleasing to the eye.
  • Despite the blue blossoms of the plant, larkspur is commonly sourced to create the enigmatic greens we love to see in rugs. Saffron, weld and the aforementioned indigo plant are also regularly used to create different shades of green dyes.
  • Orange - Drying and milling henna leaves releases the Lawsone molecule which is a red-orange dye. Similar to red dyes, madder, weld and saffron plants can also be sourced to create natural orange dyes.
  • Purple - From the roots of Alkanna tinctoria, Alkanet dyes gives lovely purple and lavender tones.
  • Brown - This colour is more readily available being derived from walnut hulls, oakbart, brown sheep’s wool and other nutshells.
  • Black - Black dyes Dark wool that if often dyed with a range of other colours. Black colour tonings are often achieved by double and triple dyeing wool with Indigo.

Historically, Persian rugs were dyed using these natural colours which mellow and change with age. The variation of colour and texture is unable to be reproduced in modern weaves, meaning these particular pieces are highly sought after and unique.

We always keep a good stock of handwoven vegetable rugs, including complete collections of:

  1. Afghan Chobis. The word ‘Chobi’ means timber. Chobi rugs are woven in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan using natural dyes.
  1. Many high-quality Kazak rugs use handspun wool which is hand-dyed using natural dyes. These gems are inspired by old Caucasian Kazak weaves.
  1. Vintage Persian Rugs. Many city rugs made in Iran at the turn of the century up to the 1950s were entirely made with natural dyes. We have a number of old and antique pieces in stock. These include Tehran Rugs, Antique Amogoli and Vintage Heriz.

We are here to help. Our range of Persian rugs made from natural dyes is vetted for authenticity and quality. We love to chat rugs and are happy to answer any questions you have about the natural dyes and the incredibly demanding traditional process of their extraction

Feel free to shoot us an email at, come and visit us at our Rozelle warehouse or call us on 9746 3600.