In a world of multicolored clothing, we tend to take it for granted that clothes come in neon green, and you can carpet your home in any shade of the rainbow. However synthetic dyes have only been around since the mid nineteenth century.

Area rugs, and other fabrics, were once dyed exclusively with dyes only from natural sources. This drastically limited the range of colors available to textile dyers, as well as making certain colors extremely rare. For example, the reason purple was the Royal color was not only because it is beautiful or impressive, but because it was rare and, therefore, very expensive.

In the mid 1800’s synthetic dyes first made their appearance in London and Germany. These aniline dyes were made from coal tar, and were very bright and easy to use.

To protect the integrity of the rug industry in Persia, synthetic dyes were banned in Persia in 1903. Persian leadership banned synthetic dyes because they faded easily when exposed to water or light. It wasn’t until many years later when chrome dyes were developed that synthetic dyes were reintroduced into the world of rug manufacturing.

So the next time you’re browsing through through sweaters, trying to pick out just the right shade of purple, remember what a joy it is to have so many color options, synthetic or natural in our closest!

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