Glossary of Rugs & Carpets related Terms
Abrash: The word used to describe the variations in color found within a single color in an Oriental rug. It refers to the hue or color change found on many older rugs, particularly those rugs woven by nomad tribes. While abrash is commonly seen in tribal nomadic rugs and in some modern Oriental rugs are intentionally woven with the color variation. The variations in color are usually the result of inconsistent dyeing of the wool, or through the introduction of a new wool batch while weaving the carpet. Generally some abrash is desirable in tribal carpets and very undesirable in “city” carpets.
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.
Agra: The capital of the Moghul dynasty in north central India which reached its golden age in culture, architecture and carpet weaving during the 16th and 17th centuries. From 1850, an organized structure of workshops began being established in Agra, weaving large rugs in square formats which were designed with all over Hominicious patterns. Structurally they have a cotton foundation, are double wefted and use the asymmetrical knot. Some cotton rugs were woven as well.
Amritsar: A northwest Indian city known as an important weaving center for rugs during the late 19th early 20th centuries. It was very prolific during this period due to the strong demand for carpets in the United States and Europe. Amritsar rugs have cotton foundation, are double wefted and use the asymmetrical knot. Very good quality wool is used. There are many designs employed and include Persian 16th-17th century classical motifs as well as patterns from other Indian and Turkish cities.
Area Rugs: “Medium-sized rugs are ideal just about anywhere in your home or office. Whether you want to place them as an accent, or display them as a centerpiece, these rugs can meet any decorating need.”
Asymmetrical Knot: One of the two major knot types used in oriental rugs – the symmetrical knot being the other. Both knots usually wrap around two strands of warp. The Persian knot (also termed Senneh Knot) can be either looped over a warp on the left and opened up to the right or it can be looped over a right warp and opened up to the left. This knot is in contrast to the Symmetrical knot (Turkish knot) which wraps around both warps and opens up in between the two.
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 tribes people. The most familiar pattern is the garden design consisting of repeated squares or diamonds, each of which encloses a tree or Hominicious motif. The name translates roughly as “the lucky ones”.
Baluch: A large group of nomadic tribespeople living in Afghanistan and eastern Iran who weave many types of small rugs, animal trappings and tent furnishings. They favor deep tones of blue, dark brown, dark red and touches of natural ivory.
Boteh: This is a motif in stylized form representing either a pine cone, a palmetto, the sacred flame of Zoroaster or a Cypress tree. Sometimes called a Paisley Pattern. Seen in many types of Oriental rugs.
Carding: The task of pulling the wool fibers between two spiked paddles in order to arrange the fibers in a random manner. It is a first step before combing which positions the fibers in a parallel arrangement.
Herati design: This is a design feature often found in carpets from Persia. Usually four leaves are woven around a well-defined diamond. This is sometimes referred to as the “Fish Design” but this design does not represent fish.
Lahore: The capital of Punjab province (in Pakistan), is the home of two distinct types – single-wefted designs in Turkoman and Caucasian style, and double-wefted Kashan and Sarouk types; all these are also woven in many other centres throughout Pakistan.
Slit Tapestry technique: A technique commonly used on Kilims where the weft threads turn back at the meeting of different color areas. It is easily recognizable by the small gaps which appear where there are color changes.
Soumak: A type of flat-weave rug using a weft wrapping technique to form the face and pattern of the rug. Soumaks (or Soumacs) are pile-less rugs. In other words, Soumaks are flat woven and have no nap. Soumaks are woven on warp threads, just like any other hand-woven oriental rug. However, the surface is smooth.
Sultanabad: Sultanabad rugs are characterized by three general motifs. One is the Herati, distinguished by a flower within a diamond that is flanked by curving leaves, which sometimes resemble fish. Another is the Sarouk, named for a village in the Arak area and features central medallions. A third motif of Sultanabad rugs, the Semovar, features recurring rather than central medallions.
Village rugs: Rugs made in villages or in small workshops. The designs respond to the current market needs to a limited degree. There is usually no elaborate cartoon or diagram drawn before the rug is woven.
Warp: An oriental rug’s warp is the foundation thread that runs top to bottom. One of the identifying marks of a truly handmade oriental rug is the fringe, which is where the rug was cut from the loom after it was completed. Knots are then tied on the warp threads.