You must have heard about Living Coral. After all, according to Pantone, it’s the color of the year 2019. But guess what – ancient Persians have invented it long before the renowned color institute! You would be surprised how often trends advertised as “fresh” and “the latest” are in fact very, very old. This circle of fashion sometimes reaches back entire centuries, like in the case of Dughi – the most iconic oriental shade of pink, known from antique Persian rugs from the Sarouk weaving center (Markazi Province, Iran).
The Colors of Sarouk Rugs
In every oriental rug design, each color, just like motif, bears symbolism and helps to convey a message. This is one of the reasons why the choice of proper colors has always been extremely important to Sarouk weavers.
Even after the introduction and popularization of synthetic dyes in the second half of the 19th century, they still continued using natural, plant or animal-based dyes for quality, authenticity and unique look of their carpets. The range of colors used in antique Sarouk rugs is quite wide but the most frequently applied are: blue, yellow, brown and the famed shade of pink – dughi.
The Pink of Sarouk
Antique Sarouk rugs are very often rendered in a characteristic shade of pink with salmon undertones known as dughi. This exceptional hue was obtain by introducing special substances to the regular process of dyeing wool. The basic color was red, usually made from the root of madder – a wild growing plant which has also been cultivated on plantations ever since people discovered its properties. So how exactly dughi, the ‘living coral’ of Persia, was made?
Making of Dughi
First, dried and pulverized madder root was dissolved in water. The resulting concoction was mixed with yogurt called dugh (hence the name of the color!) or fermented milk – both products contain lactic acid which makes wool fibers turn a bit yellowish but also makes them luminous and durable. The yarn was bathed in this custom dye for a couple of hours, later to be thoroughly rinsed and dried. The result was a dughi-colored rug.
The Trendiest of Sarouk Designs
At the end of the 19th century, dughi was an extremely popular color, especially on the North American market. For that reason, a large number of dughi rugs intended for export to the USA was produced at the end of the 19th and during the first years of the 20th century.
This plentiful bunch even acquired its own name – they were called ‘American Sarouks.’ To make them appeal even more to the tastes of western consumers, American Sarouks were adorned with naturalistic, curvilinear botanical and floral designs: bouquets or blooming twigs that formed an allover pattern or a medallion, in contrast to traditional geometric Sarouk motifs.
Dughi in Contemporary Interiors
Dughi is looks practically the same as Living Coral, however, it may vary depending on many factors that may result from a manual, traditional dyeing process (quality of raw materials, proportions, time, etc.). Such minor variations, aka ‘abrash effect’ appear on the majority of antique rugs. Anyhow, an antique Sarouk rug would be a perfect complement to your 2019 décor!
Dughi offers a wide range of applications. It will be fantastic as an addition to interiors maintained in earthy shades (beige, gray whites). In Scandinavian or Rustic style it will feel great because of the large presence of wood. The color will also fit into more elegant abodes like Mid-Century Modern or Classic.