Posted on: April 10, 2017

All Natural Dyes

At Orley Shabahang, we work hard to carry on the weaving traditions of Iran. Not only do we hand-spin all of our wool and weave our carpets entirely by hand, we use only all natural raw materials to dye our wool. Here’s a look into where each color is derived from!




Indigo plants are used to make all of our blues. Because indigo is an incredibly strong raw material, our lightest blues only need to sit in the dyeing pot for a few seconds to achieve a light patina. Our deeper blues, on the other hand, sit in the indigo and water mixture for longer periods of time so that they can mature to a color that is more rich in pigment. If you let the wool soak in the indigo mixture for long enough, eventually it will reflect as black once it is woven into a carpet. Because blue is a primary color, indigo can be mixed with other natural vegetable dyes to create different shades of green, purple, and grey.


 Walnut Husk


Walnut husk is used to form brown vegetal dyes. Even though some of our sheep have wool with brown tones, allowing the wool sit in walnut husk dye leads to a subtle glaze that shows off the natural striation of our hand-spun wool.  Similar to the dying techniques used with indigo plants, the duration that the wool sits in the dyes contributes to how dark the brown is.


Madder Root


The use of red madder root in textiles and handicrafts dates back to ancient times because it forms rich hues on the spectrum from soft, warm pinks to rich, rusty reds. The root is ground into a fine powder and mixed with white alum so that the wool can absorb its color evenly. Like indigo, this primary color is used in cocktails along with other dyes to achieve various colors on the color wheel. For example, mixing red madder root with indigo creates varying shades of pink and purple.


Pomegranate Rind


The rind of the pomegranate, not the seeds, is one of the plants that can be used to create a warm yellow. In particular, the yellow of the pomegranate rind often reflects a soft orange or brown pigment. Pomegranate is native to the region, and as such has historically been used as a dyeing tool. Because of the softness of its color, the rind lends itself well to be used in mixtures with other dyes.


Dyer’s Weed


Dyer’s weed is also used to achieve yellow pigmentation, but with a cooler tone than pomegranate rind. If you let the wool sit in the mixture for long enough, it will eventually turn golden in color. As the third primary color, this yellow is mixed with indigo or red madder root to develop varying shades of green and orange respectively.

F1 Wheat Green

It’s great to use these natural dyes because they create colors that are vibrant and look even more beautiful overtime. Using combinations of these colors and different plants, we’re able to create new stunning colors that can’t be found in antique carpets. You can search on our website by specific colors to see the amazing variations of different colors and how they work in different designs.