Kenyon College

Color and Afghan Rugs


The designs covering the tribal rugs on view in Warp: War Rugs of Afghanistan are created by varying the color of the knotted weft according to a set pattern during the weaving process. Without a variety of dyes to give their yarn these colors, it is doubtless that these Afghan carpets would be much less visually impactful. Historically, dyes were derived from natural sources like plants, minerals, and insects. Presently, there are many inexpensive synthetic dyes that augment the colors available from natural sources. Follow the links below to learn more about some of the most famous natural dyes used in making tribal rugs, and how you can use these same dyes at home.

Feature image by Polski: Marek Bero ( [CC BY-SA 3.0 pl (], via Wikimedia Commons