Oriental Rug Terms
Many homeowners or budding designers who are new to the world of Oriental rugs and antique carpets may find themselves frequently running into unfamiliar territory when it comes to terminology. There are a number of terms specific to rugs and – more generally, Oriental rugs – that are helpful to know whether you're an interior designer, homeowner, trade professional or rug enthusiast. The following definitions are a sampling of these Oriental rug terms. We hope you enjoy our comprehensive glossary of Oriental rugs and carpet terms composed by Nalbandian. We always strive to speak in plain, easy-to-understand English, but if you ever don't understand something we say or write, please let us know!
Abrash: Variation and striation of colors throughout the rug. Abrash refers to the hue or color change found on many older rugs, mostly those woven by nomadic tribes. Abrash also is indication of traditional materials and dyeing practices.
Achaemenian: A Persian dynasty that ruled Persian Empire's (6th-4th BC). The historian claim there was carpets in the main palace that made of wool and gold wire.
Add Fringes: Weave new fringes onto rug.
Afshar: A Turkic speaking nomadic and settled people living mostly in southern Iran. The Afshar make mostly small rugs and saddlebags, animal trappings. Tones of deep blue, red, gold and ivory are most often encountered in Afshar rugs. The Afshar nomads are primary found living in villages around KERMAN (KIRMAN) in southeastern IRAN. The most famous person on this tribe was NADER SHAH (King Nader), the founder of Afshar dynasty, ruled from 1736 - 1747 A.D.
Allover Design: Continuous design throughout rug without a center medallion.
Aniline Dye: A synthetic dye discovered in 1856 by William Perkins. The term is now used to describe any synthetic dyes used in Oriental or Navajo rugs. It was banned in Persia in the early 1900's because the dyes were not colorfast.
Antique Finish: A modern washing procedure that tones or antiques the rug.
Antique Wash: A chemical or natural process that tones down colors and to simulate aging on new rugs or produce softer tones in vintage and antique rugs.
Arabesque: An ornate curving design of intertwined floral and vine figures often seen in intricate workshop rugs such as those from Isphahan, Tabriz, Nain and Qum.
Ardabil: The city of Ardabil (Ardebil) is located at distance of 639 kilometers from Tehrab. Ardabil is also well known for probably the most famous carpet in the world, this rug was approximately made around 1539. The original Ardabil rug was acquired by the Victoria Albert's museum in 1893 for a bargain $4000 (an outrageous price for this period). The cartouche tells us that it was made by the order of the Persian King Shah Tahmasp by a weaver named Masuod al Kashani.
Art Silk: Artificial silk, normally made with mercerized cotton. Also known as artificial silk, it is usually mercerized cotton, rayon or polyester that appears to be silk.
"Persian" of "Senneh" knot. A pile knotting technique where only one or the two warps is completely encircled. Generally used in northwestern, western, southwestern and some portion of northeastern Iran (quochan). Asymmetric knots may be open to the left or right.
Aubusson: Fine rugs and carpets woven in France from the 15th to 19th Centuries. French design normally with a medallion and pastel colors. It is also a term used to describe modern rugs that use similar designs and colors.
Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan comprises of three provinces: Ardebil, Western Azerbaijan, and Eastern Azerbaijan. The major cities are Tabriz, Ardebil, Orumyeh, Ahar, Khoy.
Bakhshaish (Bakhshayesh): A small village in the Iranian Azerbaijan which is located southwest of Heriz. The area is mostly known for its late 19th century (woven 1780-1900) carpet production which includes large room size rugs with either the Herati or central medallion patterns. Rugs frequently resemble antique Heriz in design and technique.
Bakhtiari: The Bachtiari confederation is a large and powerful group, covering much of central and southwestern Iran. Small rugs, saddlebags and trappings are woven by nomadic Bachtiaris, while large carpets are woven by the settled tribe's people. The most common pattern is the garden design consisting of repeated squares or diamonds, each of which encloses a tree or floral motif. The name translates roughly as "the lucky ones". Other designed rugs include those with a large bold central medallion, or others with long vertical stripes filled with small botehs.
Baluch: A large group of nomadic tribe's people living in eastern Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan who weave many types of small rugs, tent furnishings and animal trappings. They favor deep tones of blue, dark brown, dark red and touches of natural ivory. They are simple, but sturdily made, entirely of wool, often with ends and edges reinforced by the use of goat hair. Most rugs are small, double wefted, asymmetrical and tribal in character. Designs are usually of tree of life, prayer rugs and all over patterns of various guls and botehs.
Bergama: Bergama is a little town in northwest part of Turkey, around eighty villages that are involve weaving Bergama rugs. Bergama rugs have been woven as wool on wool material combination while wefts are all red. Bergama usually are small and majority are square shape. Bergama are loosely woven and have thick pile. Those woven in Canakkale (Ancient city known as Troy, the city of Heroes) are slightly larger.
Bidjar (Bijar): An important center of rug production in northwest Iran which is inhabited by a Kurdish population. Antique rugs which were woven on wool foundation had three wefts between every row of knots. This made the rugs extremely heavy, stiff and almost impossible to fold. Contemporary rugs are usually double wefted and are woven on a cotton foundation. For many decades, the Bidjar has been called the "cast-iron rug of the East". The creation of simple peasants in Kurdistan, northwestern Iran (Persia), Bidjar rugs are closely and heavily woven with a firm, dense nap. A "double-wefted" construction is common, where the weaver in her knotting pulls alternate warps into line behind the neighboring ones, so the knots are closely stacked together at an angle rather than lying loosely side by side. This style of weaving, combined with excellent, lanolin-rich wool, creates a rug of almost unbelievable durability.
Bokhara: The capitol of Uzbekistan and the traditional trading center for Turkmen tribal carpets. The pattern most associated with these rugs is that of rows of repeated geometric motifs, or Guls, woven on a red background.
Border: A design that surrounds the field in an Oriental rug. The band or stripe, or group of bands or stripes around the edge of the rug that forms a frame to enclose the central field.
Boteh: The boteh is a symbol that has been used to decorate textiles in Iran at since the Sassanid Dynasty (200–650 AD). As a motif it has many interpretations. In some cases it is described as a seed symbolizing life and renewal, often enclosing a mature plant within it, as if to suggest that the whole always exists within the part.
Brocade: Weft float weave used to add design and embellishment. Often seen on the Kilim bands at the ends of oriental rugs.
Cartouche: An oval shaped ornamental design element. The cartouche may be solid colored, or it may contain an inscription, a date, or another design.
Caucasian: Rugs were mainly woven in Azerbaijan, which is part of the Caucasus region in Southern Russia.
Chemical Dyes: Modern synthetic dyes used in rugs woven after 1935.
Chemical Wash: A process in which a sheen in imparted to the pile of a carpet. This is produced not only through the action of the chemicals on the colors in the wool, but also by the chemical's action in removing short, staple fibers that tend to absorb light.
Chinoiserie: A French term, signifying "Chinesery" or "Chinese-esque", refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences. It is a fusion of Asian motifs and European sophistication created by designers and craftsmen in the West. Since they knew little of Asian cultures due to limited exposure, early chinoiserie is characterized by the use of imagery of a China that could only be imagined with pagodas, dragons, fabulous birds, monkeys and figures in exotic costumes. Chinoiserie is a fun mixture of fact and fiction of what seemed incredibly exotic to the people of Europe. This new whimsical style was popularized when the French court of Louis XV found the chinoiserie integrated beautifully with Rococo architectural features. It spread throughout Europe and was soon found in the interiors and gardens of the royal palaces.
Chrome dyes: Modern synthetic dyes that use potassium bichromate to create a bond betweenthe dye stuff and the fiber.
Combing: Process for preparing wool's in the same direction, before they are spun.
Curvilinear: Consisting of or bounded by curved lines. Forming or moving in a curved line.
Dhurrie: A flat-woven carpet made in India using the warp-sharing, Kilim technique.
Double prayer rug: A rug with an arch at both ends of the field. See mihrab, prayer rug.
Dozar: A Persian name used to describe approximately a 4.6 x 6.6 size carpet.
Dry rot: After many years the rug becomes dry and brittle, or liquids or moisture on a rug for an extended time can cause the rug to become dry rot. Dry rot usually occurs among antique rugs with cotton foundations. The airborne microscopic fungus will feeds on cellulose fibers. Cracking sounds or the breaking of a rug's foundation is a result of dry rot.
Eastern Turkestan: An area of western China in the southwestern part of Xinjiang province. Rugs from this region are sometimes referred to as Samarkand. Common sizes are 4x8 or 4x9 and popular designs include three medallions, pots with flowers and thirdly all over geometric elements throughout the field.
Embossed: A technique used in finishing carpets in which feathered incisions are made in the pile where different colors meet. Commonly done in some Chinese and Tibet rugs.
Farahan: An area north of the city of Arak in western Iran. The region is known for finely knotted late 19th century rugs with designs such as Herati, Mina Khani or Gol Hinnai. Most rugs have cotton foundation with wefts dyed in either blue or pink. Green color is commonly used. The areas of Fereghan and Seraband produce finely knotted pieces, comparable both in style and quality to weavings from Senneh. They usually have a tight allover field pattern of tiny floral motifs, such as the Herati design. Early examples of Fereghan carpets, woven in the early and mid-19th century are characterized by a distinctive greenish-yellow color and other extremely vibrant colors.
Fath Ali Shah: (1797 - 1834) Qajar King; Founder of the Qajar dynasty. Most of his reign was spent in internal and external warfare. He managed to maintain himself against other claimants to the throne but was not so fortunate in his wars with Russia.
Field: The largest area of a carpet; the central portion that's enclosed by the borders.
Flat weave: Flat weave is a technique of weaving that no knots are used to weave a Textile. The warp strands are used as the foundation and the weft stands are used as both part of the foundation and in creating the patterns. The weft strands are simply passed (woven) through the warp strands. Flat weave used for Kilims, soumak, Dhurrie and Jajim. Basically it's a textile without a pile. Foundation: The warp and weft is the basis/foundation of a rug.
Fringe: The continuation of the warp threads at each end of the carpet. Sometimes knotted or plaited. Their basic role is to hold the rug together and keep the wefts from unraveling.
Gabbeh: Thick, long-piled rugs produced by the tribes of Fars originally for their own use and not for the commercial market. The word Gabbeh means unclipped. Gabbeh are usually woven on horizontal looms. Garden Design: A design in which the field of the rug is divided into squares or rectangles that contain plants and animals, or outdoor scenes.
Ghiordes: See Turkish knot. A town in western Turkey in which many small (usually 3x5ft) prayer rugs were woven. Knot densities are between 100 - 200 per square inch. Typical designs depict small geometric and pointed mihrab surrounded by three or more borders.
Gul: Meaning flower in Farsi. The gul (sometimes gol or göl) is a design element consisting of octagonal or angular shape used in Turkmen designs. It is often found in a repeating, all-over pattern in the main field of Turkmen rugs, bags and other weavings. The term "gul" is unclear of origin. It may come from the Persian word for flower, or the Turkish words for rose, or roundel, or even lake. At one time, each different gul represented a different tribal coat of arms. It can be found mostly in Bohkara rugs.
Haji Jalili: Haji Jalili is well known master weaver all around the world especially among high-end antique rug collectors. He made some of the finest rugs in 19th century (1800-1890) in Tabriz. He was originally was from town of Marand (40 miles northwest of Tabriz).
Hali (qali): A Turkish word that means "carpet".
Hamadan (Hamedan): Hamedan is one of the oldest cities not only in Iran but probably in the world. The carpets that are made in Hamedan usually have a geometric patterns. The Hamedan village rugs have an important characteristic that is all have a single-wefted medallion.
Herati: The most common repeating pattern in Persian rugs. Formed by a rosette surrounded by a diamond with small palmettes at its points and curving, tapered, serrated leaves that resemble fish along its sides. The Herati motif is widely used in Iran and it is believed to represent the small fishes come up just beneath the surface of the water to swim in the full moon's reflection.
Hereke: Hereke in western Turkey has been a center for fine weaving since the days of the Ottoman Empire. The finest contemporary Turkish rugs are still made in Hereke, as they were a century ago. Wool, silk, and metallic threads are all used. Though Hereke is in Turkey they use the Persian Senna knot in rugs made there.
Heriz: A geometric medallion rugs woven in several small village of Heriz. The rugs of Heriz are large, boldly designed and firmly woven. The oversize geometric medallions were once referred to as "shield patterns" and they are usually crisply delineated against a rich red or a dark blue field, with a generous use of ivory. Large-scale "turtle-design" borders are common. Commercial carpets bearing the Heriz design are woven in every rug-producing county in the world.
Hooked rug: A rug made by using a hooking device (either a hand-operated one or machine one) to push and loop yarn through a canvas. This is either left looped (creating a "loop hook" or "latch hook" rug) or sheared to create an open pile.
Ilkhan Dynasty: Halagu thus founded in Iran the Il-Khanid dynasty (1265- 1335). The Ilkhanids: Il-khan (Subordinate of the Khan) was the title assumed by Hülegü (1256-65), after he became the Mongol ruler of Iran and Khorasan (Northeast Province where today Mashad is located). The Ilkhanids eventually converted to Islam and adopted the Iranian culture. It was from that period that the material culture of Iran flourished after the severe blow caused by the Mongol invasion.
Indigo: Different blue shaded dyes obtained from the leaves of the indigo plant.
Joshagan: A town in north central Iran, thirty miles southwest of Kashan. This weaving center is mostly known for the design of an all over lozenge pattern - each consisting of a geometric floral motif. Rugs are woven on cotton with a knot count of 100-200 knots per square inch.
Jufti: Jufti is a format knots formation in a rug that a knot is tied over four strands of warp as opposed to the usual two strands. Jufti knots or sometimes called FALSE knots can be Persian or Turkish style knots.
Jute: A fiber from a plant which is mostly used in the manufacture of burlap. Jute is a fine natural fiber and is very versatile, adaptable yarn which weaves well, looks and feels good and comes in natural tones.
Kashmir: A rug-weaving district in the western Himalayas. The name has also been incorrectly used to describe the Soumak weaving technique.
Kazak (Kazakh, Kazak, Kasak, Gazakh):Qazax(KAZAK) is a city of about twenty thousand people in Northwest Azerbaijan. The people of this region are Azeri Turks, Armenians, Albanians, and Northern Caucasian. There are also Greeks, Russians, and Georgians, in the area but they do not appear to have made a significant number of rugs. This is not to say however that Kazaks wove the rugs that we call Kazak. The rugs we see are mostly post 1830 when most of the weavers of Kazak rugs were Armenians. Still the designs they drew upon in many cases were from the Kazaks who had lived in that area prior to the Russian capture of Erevan.
Kilim: A flat rug with no pile.
Knot: A knot is formed when wool, cotton or silk yarn is looped around the warp threads. There are different procedures for knotting and each knot type has a name, for example there is a Turkish/Ghiordes knot & a Persian/Sennah knot.
Knots per square inch: Number of knots per square inch rates the knot quality.
Kork Wool: The very finest quality wool obtained from the shoulder and flanks from shearing lambs.
Kurds: Kurds are (a non-Arab) minority population that inhabits the region known as Kurdistan, an extensive plateau and mountain area in Southwest Asia (c.74,000 sq mi/191,660 sq km), including parts of east Turkey, northeast Iraq, and west and northwest Iran and small group in Ghuochan (northwest Iran-Khorasan province) and smaller sections of northeast Syria and Armenia. The region lies astride the Zagros Mts. (Iran) and the eastern extension of the Taurus Mts. (Turkey) and extends in the south across the Mesopotamian plain and includes the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers population distribution among the Kurds.
Line: A unit for measuring the quality of a rug, based on the number or pairs of warp threads in a given area of the carpet, usually one linear foot. The term "line" is also used to describe a border stripe that consists of a single row of knots.
Logwood: Logwood was native to tropical forest of Central America and West Indies. Later and introduced into other tropical regions in the world. Logwood plants are small and full of thorns. The brown-red heartwood is the source of the dye bipinnate leaves and racemes of small bright yellow flowers and yielding a hard brown or brownish-red heartwood used in preparing a black dye. It is still used more than any other natural dyes.
Loom: The frame on which warps are attached and kept rigid during the weaving of a rug.
Lozenge: A diamond shaped parallelogram or rhombus.
Luster: The sheen that is given to the surface of a carpet as a result of chemical washing.
Madder: A powder extracted from the root of a Rubia plant used to make red dye.
Mashad (Mashhad): Mashad is located 909 kilometer far from Tehran in Northeastern Iran. This is city consider by Shi'ite (Shiite) due to the shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), the eighth Imam of the Shi'ite (Shiite) Mashad was a small place by the name of Sanabad in the vicinity of the old city of Tus. The city of Mashad and its suburbs have a population of more than two million people. The city's climatic condition is varied with very cold winters, usually mild summers and pleasant springs and autumns.
Medallion: Large design or series of large designs found in the center in some oriental rugs.
Mehrab: Representation of the place in a mosque, where the prayer leader stands. Ornamented with pillars, chandeliers & floral Persian rug patterns.
Mihrab: Typical design of a prayer rug derived from the niche or chamber in a mosque.
Mina Khani: Mina Khani is beautiful design. In this design field is covered with daisies connected together with lines that form diamonds or circles in an all-over layout. Blue background color is very common in this design especially for rug made in Varamin. You can also find Mina Khani design in rugs from Bijar, Baluch, Farahan and surrounding villages.
Nap: Face of the rug where the knot ends are cut, normally made of wool or silk.
Natural Dyes: See vegetable dyes.
Navajo: Navajo rugs are textiles produced by Navajo people of the Four Corners area of the United States, consisting of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Navajo textiles are a flat tapestry-woven textile similar to Eastern Europe and Western Asia Kilims, but using a different weave technique and an upright loom with no moving parts. Navajo carpets have strong geometric patterns and their coloration was mostly natural brown, white and indigo prior to the mid-19th century. Navajo weaving has captured the imagination of many not because they are beautiful textiles, but because they mirror the social and economic history of Navajo people. The Navajo carpets are true Native American folk art.
Open field:A solid-colored ground, with or without a simple medallion and corner designs. An open field is the opposite of a covered field.
Oushak: Oushaks are Turkish carpets that use a particular family of designs from the city of Uşak, Turkey, one of the larger towns in Western Anatolia. The city Uşak has been a major center of rug production dating back to the early days of the Ottoman Empire and still remains popular today. In the past, Oushak carpets were classified as 'Anatolian Rugs,' which means 'land of the rising sun. Oushak carpets are some of the finest Oriental Rugs, so much so that many works of art from the 15th and 16th centuries have been attributed to Oushak. The popular medallion and star carpets originated from the Oushak rug. The warm subdued palette consists of dyes reminiscent of cinnamon, saffron, terracotta hues, gold, blues, greens, teal, ivory and grays. Oushaks are known for their grand scale designs and soft tones that are enhanced by their silky, luminous wool. The late 19th century, floral patterns of Persian tradition and room size were incorporated into Oushak rugs with their overall geometric and angular design scheme. Paramount to the rug weaving techniques was the use of larger knots and an all-wool foundation.
Oxidizes: With excess sunlight exposure rug colors can change to a brown or black color.
Painted rug: A rug which has been dyed on the surface after the weaving has been completed. This process, often found in rugs from Arak (Sarouk, Lilihan), was intended to intensify certain colors which could not be produced in deep enough shades in the original pile yarns. The practice of painting rugs is much less common today than it once was.
Palmette: A design element composed of a cross section of large, leafy, fan-shaped flowers. Usually multicolored.
Parthian Empire (Parthian Dynasty): The Parthian Empire is a fascinating period of Persian history closely connected to Greece and Rome. Ruling from 247 B.C. to A.D. 228 in ancient Persia (Iran), the Parthians defeated Alexander the Great's successors, the Seleucids, conquered most of the Middle East and southwest Asia, controlled the Silk Road and built Parthia into an Eastern superpower. The Parthian empire revived the greatness of the Achaemenid Empire and counterbalanced Rome's hegemony in the West. Parthia at one time occupied areas now in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaidzhan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel.
Patina: The surface appearance of a rug usually mellows with age or use.
Persian knot: A knotting technique in which one end of the yarn in drawn up between two adjacent warp threads and the other end is drawn up on the outside of the pair. Also called a symmetrical knot, or a Senneh knot.
Pile: The surface of a carpet, formed by the cut ends of the knots that are tied onto foundation.
Pomegranate Plant: The mythology of ancient Greece regarded this fruit as the symbol of life and rebirth in the abduction story of Persephone by Hades, the god of the underworld. The pomegranate fruit is assumed to have originated in Iran and Afghanistan. The fruit was used as a holy symbol and respected in Zoroastrian worshipping ceremonies and rituals. The pomegranate symbolized the soul's immortality and the perfection of nature for Zoroastrians. Then it became a port of the Iranian mythology which tells that Esfandiyar became an invincible hero after he ate the pomegranate. The pomegranate plant is ageless throughout the year, enabling the human mind to attribute to it the immortality of the soul. In time, the many seeds in a single fruit have come to stand for prosperity. The fresh or dried skin of the fruit is also used for dyeing and if used with an alum mordant, a yellow-brownish shade will result. If an iron mordant is used, a brownish-black shade will result. In Oriental carpets and Kilims, the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility and abundance because of its many seeds.
Poshti: A Turkish term used for a mat or rug measuring approximately 3 by 2 feet.
Prayer rug: A small rug featuring a prayer niche (mihrab) in the field design. Inspired by the architectural forms found in a mosque.
Pushti: Persian term for a scatter rug, normally 2 x 3.
Qajar Dynasty: Agha Mohammad Khan (1794 - 1797) Qajar were Turkmen tribe that held ancestral lands in present-day Azerbaijan, which then was part of Iran. In 1779, following the death of Mohammad Karim Khan Zand, the Zand Dynasty ruler of southern Iran, Agha Mohammad Khan, a leader of the Qajar tribe, set out to reunify Iran. Their Dynasty had started in 1794 and ended 1925.
Ram's Horn: The ram's horn represents manhood, male fertility, strength and bravery. A weaver incorporating such a symbol into her carpet would wish for all these qualities in her future husband. Re-fringe: Repair fringe of rug using the selvage or part of the rug.
Rectilinear: Moving in, consisting of, bounded by, or characterized by a straight line or lines: following a rectilinear path; rectilinear patterns in Oriental rugs.
Repeated pattern: Reference Allover Design.
Rhubarb: Rhubarb is a plant from the species of Rheum, growing in the wild in the mountains of the Western and North-western provinces of Iran, Turkey and China and in the adjoining Tibetan territory. Oxalic acid (from rhubarb leaves) creates yellow to copper-red colors.
Rosette: A design element composed of the symmetrical head-on view of a flower. Usually round, with radiating petals. Rosette is a circular arrangement of motif of motifs radiating out from the center and suggesting the petals of a rose. Found on the field, major or minor borders of carpets in manifold naturalistic and geometric forms.
Runner: A very narrow rug. The length greatly exceeds the width. The ratio of the length vs. width is usually 5 to 1 or 3 to 1 however there are long runner as long as 18 to 1.
Safavid Dynasty: The Safavid (1499-1722) were descended from Sheikh Safi ad Din (1253 - 1334) of Ardabil, head of the Sufi order of Safaviyeh (Safawiyah), but about 1399 exchanged their Sunnite affiliation for Shi'ism. The Safavid were established Shiite Islam as a state religion of Iran, which became a major factor in the emergence of unified national consciousness' among the various ethnic and linguistic elements of the country.
Saffron: The Greeks and Romans made a royal dye color with saffron and wealthy Romans perfumed their baths and homes with it. In the 14th-18th centuries, saffron was used as a medicine and spice in Europe. Dyeing is the oldest use of saffron. The yellow stigmata impart a deep yellow to fabrics. About 4000 blooms are required to produce one ounce of dye, so saffron has always been associated with wealth.
Sasanian Dynasty: The Sasanians defeated the Parthians in 224 and established the Sasanian Empire. Sasanian Dynasty founded in AD 224 by Ardeshir I, and destroyed by the Arab invasions of the 630s. The capital was at Ctesiphon. The Sasanians made Zoroastrians the official state religion. Under the Sasanians, Persia reached the peak of its ancient glory, rivaling that of Rome; they revived Achemenid traditions and made Zoroastrianism their state religion.
Savonnerie: A hand-knotted, pastel-colored carpet made in France that is used as a model for many modern Indian and Persian rugs. The design features a floral medallion set on an open field, with broken borders.
Selvedge: The area between the edge of a rug and the fringe. The side edges of a rug that are formed by the continuous weft threads. The selvedges are sometimes wrapped in a separate process after the weaving is finished, either by overcasting or buttonholing. The selvedge is the same material used to form the warp and weft. Side Note: the top and bottom edges of the rug form the fringe.
Senneh Knot: See Persian knot
Soumak: A flat-woven or rug without pile where the pattern-forming yarns pass over either two or four warps and return under one or two warps, in contrast to the Kilim technique, which uses a basket weave method. This technique produces a herringbone effect and is also known as weft wrapping. Looks similar to embroidery work.
Serapi: It is hard to categorize and define a Serapi rug. They were made during 1800 -1920 in the village of Heriz. Typically, 19th century Serapi rugs have dramatic expanse of rich brick-red framed by clear blues and creamy whites. Abrash, the subtle changes of color, accentuate its simplistic beauty of Serapi rugs. Serapi carpets are best known for their large, bold geometric patterns.
Symmetrical knot: See Turkish knot.
Symmetry: A fundamental organizing principle in nature and in culture. The analysis of symmetry allows for understanding the organization of a pattern, and provides a means for determining both invariance and change.
Tabriz: A city in northwestern Iran which has a major weaving tradition dating to the 15th century. It was at this time that weavers from Tabriz introduced the curvilinear designs to the courts at Istanbul. After a decline of a few hundred years, Tabriz began re-establishing its position in the mid-19th century as the market center for the export of Persian rugs to the west. Tabriz weavers have a reputation of copying designs from other areas of Iran and therefore the best way to establish the true origin of a Tabriz is by examining the rug's structure. Tabriz rugs are double wefted, Turkish knot is dominant, warps and wefts are of cotton and are mostly undyed (at times however, wefts may be either pale blue or light gray).
Tannin: A brown pigment found in leaves and other parts of plants. It causes the brown color of leaves after all other colors have disappeared. It is present throughout the growing season but is masked by the chlorophylls (greens), xanthophylls and carotenes (yellows and oranges), and anthocyanin (reds and purples). Tannin solutions are acid and have an astringent taste. Oak bark was an important source of Tannin.
Tekke: A large Turkoman tribe currently inhabiting the northeastern part of Iran and the area around Herat in Afghanistan. Tekke tribes are the main producer of Bokhara rugs. These rugs usually come in greens, reds, whites, and browns. Asymmetrical knots are used on a double wefted wool foundation. Warps are usually ivory and the wefts are brown. Knot counts are high. The Tekke gul is an indented octagon.
Tree of life: A design featuring a large tree that divides the field of the rug in half. The tree of life is a symbol common to many monotheistic religions. Resonating the story of the Garden of Eden, it reminds us of man's aspiration to become divine—its fruit is believed to bring immortality, and therefore it is forbidden. Mankind, unable to eat this fruit, must place all hope in life after death. Thus the tree of life becomes a symbol of the afterlife, of immortality, and of hope. In carpet design, the tree of life can appear in figurative form, but also in more stylized interpretations.
Turkish knot: A knotting technique in which the pile yarn is looped around two adjacent warp threads and then brought up between them. Also called a Ghiordes knot.
Turkoman: A common name that refers to the geometric, repeating designs that were originally woven by nomadic tribes in Central Asia.
Tufting: A process I which the pattern-forming pile yarns are inserted into the foundation of the rug with the use of a handheld machine.
Ushak: Ushak is a town of west central Turkey with a tradition of rug production. It began as early as the 15th century. It is most famous for its 16th century star, medallion and prayer rug designs. At the end of the 19th century, due to the demand for large room size rugs in Europe and the United States, a production on a large scale commercial basis began taking place there. Rugs from the Ushak region have wool pile on wool foundation and most are crudely made with low knot counts. Most Ushaks have the medallion design or the all over pattern design. Fine Ushaks with attractive designs and good color combinations are very sought after for their decorative purposes.
Vase Carpet: A group of 16th and 17th century Persian carpets decorated with flowers springing from vases. Most are directional rugs and can be viewed from one angle only.
Vegetable dyes: Dyes derived from insects or from the earth, which includes madder root, indigo, milkweed, pomegranate, Osage, cutch and cochineal.
Warp: Beginning part of a rug where wool, cotton or silk strands are attached to a Loom vertically, following the length of a rug. The foundation threads of a rug that are strung from the top to the bottom of a loom. In Persian and Oriental rugs, the knots are tied on the warp threads, which also form the fringes at the ends of the finished rug.
War Rugs: Afghan War Rugs were woven in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation in the mid 1980's. Subjects of these rugs usually are of weapons include tanks, fighter planes, helicopters, grenades and guns.
Weft: Wool, cotton or silk strands inserted horizontally over and under the warp forming the foundation of the rug. The foundation threads of a rug that are strung across the width of a loom. These threads are passed through alternate warp threads after each row of knots is tied. They serve to secure the knots in place and also form part of the sides (selvages) of the rug.
Wool Foundation: A rug is started with a wool warp and weft.
Yastik: A 3ft x 1ft Turkish rug usually used as a pillow cover or cushion cover.
Yazd: A central Iranian city weaving rugs of medallion designs similar to Kerman and Sarouk rugs. Main colors are blue, red and ivory. Wefts can be either wool or cotton and warps are of cotton only. The asymmetrical knot is used.
Zand Dynasty: Mohammad Karim Khan Zand (ca. 1705-1779) founded the rule of the Zand dynasty in Persia (today Iran) in 1750.
Ziegler and Co.: Ziegler and Co. was a German firm based in Manchester (England) who was actively involved in both the Opium and Carpet trade. Ziegler set up looms in Sultanabad and helped start the boom in carpets from Arak (Sultanabad) province. The company exported a large number of rugs from Iran to Europe from the mid-19th century until the early 20th century. Persian rugs were designed according to western tastes. Tabriz, Mahal and Sultanabad rugs were produced under the guidance of the Ziegler Co. are known today as the Ziegler Carpets.