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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: 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 floral patterns. Structurally they have a cotton foundation, are double wefted and use the asymmetrical knot. Some cotton rugs were woven as well.

All-over design: A term used to describe the pattern of rugs whose fields have no central medallion. An even repeating design throughout the field.

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 Oriental 16th-17th century classical motifs as well as patterns from other Indian and Turkish cities.

Anatolia: The Asian (as opposed to the European) area of Turkey.

Andkhoy: Afghan Turkoman rug type.

Aniline dyes: Synthetic dyes first invented (discovered) in 1856 by William Perkins. The term is now used to describe any synthetic dyes used in Oriental or Navajo rugs.

Antique Wash: A chemical or natural process that tones down colors and to simulate aging.

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.

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."

Art Silk: Short for artificial silk, it is usually mercerized cotton, rayon or polyester that appears to be silk. Oftentimes artificial silk rugs are sold as real silk.

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 Oriental 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.

Balisht: See Pushti.

Baluch: A large group of nomadic tribespeople living in Afghanistan 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.

Bokhara: The capitol of Uzbekistan and the traditional trading center for Turkmen tribal carpets. Today, rugs called Bokhara are usually make in Pakistan using Tekke Turkoman designs.

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.

Brocade: Weft float weave used to add design and embellishment. Often seen on the kilim bands at the ends 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.

Cartoon: This is a diagram of the rug design that weavers follow when knotting an oriental rug. Used in workshop rugs and in some village rugs.

Cartouche: An oval shaped ornamental design element usually containing an inscription or date.

Cloudband: A stylized depiction of a cloud resembling a band knotted at its collar. Originally a Chinese design but is often seen in Oriental rugs.

Combing: Drawing the already carded fibers through a set of spiked blocks in order to align the fibers in a parallel arrangement. This is done prior to spinning.

Dhurrie: A low cost flatwoven rug from India.

Dragon: A Chinese motif symbolizing good fortune. The dragon is sometimes rendered in a geometrical form with only the head portrayed realistically.

Embroidery: The use of a variety of different needle-worked stitches to decorate fabrics.

Field: The main section of the rug that is surrounded by the boarder and contains the central medallion or other motifs.

Fringe: The excess warp threads extending from the end of the rug sometimes finished in macram style knotting.

Gabbeh: In Oriental it means 'fringe'. Also translated to unclipped or long pile carpets.

Guard stripes: Bands which surround and enhance the main border. A thin stripe used to highlight guards and to separate them from the beginning of the field.

Gul: This is an octagonal motif, usually elongated and divided into four. The word means "rose or flower".

Hali: A Turkish word for rug.

Herati design: This is a design feature often found in carpets. 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.

Kilim: A pileless rug often referred to as flat weave or slit weave.

Knot Count: he number of knots per square inch or per square decimetre. Usually, (but not always!) more knots means better quality and higher price.

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.

Lobe: A rounded division frequently found in medallions and in border ornaments.

Loom: Frame or machine used for interlacing two or more sets of threads or yarns to form a rug or other textile.

Medallion: Large design found in the center in some oriental rugs.

Mehrab: Typical design of a prayer rug derived from the niche or chamber in a mosque. Pointed towards Mecca when praying.

Motifs: Single or repeated design elements found throughout the rug.

Oriental knot: See Asymmetrical Knot.

Pile weave: A term used to refer to the structure of knotted carpets and rugs forming a pile or nap. Wool, silk, or sometimes cotton is knotted around the warp in a variety of techniques.

Prayer rug: A small Oriental rug used by Muslims to kneel on when reciting their prayers. It should be noted, however that most prayer rugs were woven for the foreign market.

Pushti: A small mat measuring about 2 x 3 feet.

Raj: Number of knots per 7cm. (2 3/4 inches). Twenty four raj would be approximately 76 knots per square inch.

Reciprocal design: A motif in contrasting colors but a consistent repeating pattern. Borders often have reciprocal designs.

Rosette: A motif resembling an open flower consisting of a circular arrangement of parts around a center.

Runner: A long, narrow rug used mostly for hallways and staircases. Usually under three feet wide.

Saf: A prayer rug containing multiple prayer niches.

Sarouk: Factory woven carpets woven in the vicinity of Sultanabad (Arak). Named for a small town north of Sultanabad.

Selvedge: The bound edges along the length of a rug or carpet.

Shahsavan: A confederation of Turkic speaking tribes living in Azerbaijan. They are known for making sumak bags and kilims.

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.

Spandrel: An ornamental treatment located at the corners of the field.

Strapwork: An interlacing design resembling straps.

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.

Symmetrical Knot: Also known as the Ghiordes Knot, and used in Turkey, Western and the Caucasus, it is tied around two adjacent warp threads.

Tapestry: A hand-woven wall hanging with a flat weave, usually characterized by complicated pictorial designs. It also refers to weft face weave.

Tea Wash: A procedure used to soften the colors of a rug and give it the appearance of age.

Tekke: The largest Turkomen tribe in the 19th century who made some of the finest Turkomen rugs.

Turkish Knot: See Symmetrical Knot.

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.

War Rugs: Usually refers to rugs woven by Afghani Baluch people during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. These rugs show the weapons of war, including tanks, guns and helicopters.

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.

Weft: Weft are the foundation threads that run across the width of the loom. The weft threads are what the knots are secured to or through which threads are woven.

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