One of the things that makes hand-woven rugs so beautiful is the visual texture of the rug. Part of this texture comes from the natural abrash of the rug. Abrash is a word that describes the natural variations that occur between the various strands of wool used to make the rug. This causes a striped appearance in areas of the same color on a rug. These stripes are not considered a flaw in the rug but are a natural result of the way the rug is woven.
Abrash is a result of natural variations in the wool as well as variations in the dyes used to color the wool. If you were to look closely at a herd of sheep on a hillside, you’d notice that they weren’t all exactly the same color. In addition, each sheep’s wool has a different texture from the other sheep, similar to the way that different people have different hair. When this wool is dyed, even if it’s dyed in the same batch of dye in exactly the same way, the wool will still have subtle variations in color and texture. The wool also changes seasonally from year to year. Color variations can also be cause by the dye process. Each batch of dye is slightly different. This can cause each batch of wool to have slightly different color than other batches dyed with that same dye, even if the wool is exactly the same and the die comes from the same place.
Abrash is in every hand-knotted rug, but it is generally more noticeable with tribal rugs. The dyes used in tribal rugs are often made of widely varying natural materials, including plants and insects, and so there can be great variations in color from batch to batch. It is less noticeable in city rugs because city rugs are generally made in larger facilities and often use wool that is more processed and often dyed with commercially produced dyes. Abrash is usually more visible on the front side of the rug because it’s exposed to higher traffic and the elements. It can also become more visible with age. Cleaning can make abrash seem more visible because of the removal of dirt that can dull the rug and cause the colors to look more uniform.