Traditional Rug Glossary

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Abrash: Tonal variations that is characteristic of vegetable dyed rugs. This is a very desirable characteristic for collectors. Today, traditional rugs have Abrash deliberately woven into their rugs.

All-over pattern: A term used to describe a rug that has an even repeating design throughout the field and does not have a central medallion.

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

Arabesque: An ornate curving design of intertwined floral and vine figures often seen in intricate workshop rugs.

Asymmetric Knot: Persian or Senneh knot. A pile knotting technique where only one or the two warps is completely encircled.

Aubusson: Fine flat carpets woven in France from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The Aubusson rugs feature designs of central floral medallions, lovely floras, and graceful scrolls throughout. The designs of these rugs have also been adapted to pile carpets and are now woven in India and China.


Bakhtiari: The Bakhtiari confederation of tribes covers much of central and southwestern Iran. Small rugs and trappings are woven by migratory Bakhtiari, while large carpets of great magnificence are woven in the settled villages. The most classic pattern is the garden design of repeated squares or diamonds, each of which encloses a tree or blossom motif.

Baluch: A nomadic tribe living in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Baluch weave many types of small rugs, animal trappings and tent furnishings. They favor deep tones of blue, dark brown, earthy red and touches of natural ivory.

Bergama: Bergama rugs are divided by Kazak type and Turkish type. Kazak type rugs have big geometrical designs. Turkish type usually have designs are very floral and embroidered with leaves of pine trees with evil eyes at the edges.

Bessarabian: Designs usually feature curvilinear floral patterns that are sophisticated and elaborate.

Bidjar: For many decades, the Bidjar has been called the “cast-iron rug of the East”. This style of weaving, combined with excellent, lanolin-rich wool, creates a rug of almost unbelievable durability.

Blocking: Stretching flat and tacking down a wet rug to bring it back to its original shape.

Bokhara: The capital of Uzbekistan and the traditional trading center for Turkmen tribal carpets. The pattern most associated with Bokhara rugs is that of rows of repeated geometric motifs, or Guls, woven on a red background.

Border: Bands of varying widths that runs around the perimeter of the rug.

Botech: A motif representing a pine cone, a palmetto, the sacred flame of Zoroaster, an ancient Persian prophet or a Cypress tree. Botech is sometimes called a Paisley Pattern.


Carpet: Any rug that is larger than 9 foot by 12 foot.

Cartoon: A diagram of design and colors drawn on paper used as a guide to weave a rug.

Carving: Handheld carving tools are used to accentuate details of hooked, tufted and hand knotted rugs, or to create a 3-D effect on solid color rugs.

Caucasian: A generic name describing boldly colored geometric designs originating from the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia.

Chobi Rug: Chobi refers to a rug whose color resembles wood. The majority of the Chobi rugs and carpets have light brownish color. Chobi rugs usually are chemically washed to achieve an antique look.


Derakhti: Iranian rug featuring a tree symbolizing life, wealth, health and Heaven.

Dhurrie: A reversible, flat-woven rug that is usually woven in India with either cotton or wool.

Donkeybags: Utilitarian traditional rugs sewn onto bags used for carrying goods.

Dorokhsh: Rugs with floral motifs and medallions. Older rugs have wool foundations while newer ones have cotton.


Embossing: Carving around a design or symbol to enhance the look of the rug. This process is commonly used on some Chinese and Tibetan rugs.


Farahan: A region in Iran that is known for finely knotted late 19th century rugs. Most rugs have cotton foundation with wefts dyed in either blue or pink. Green color is commonly used. The rugs usually have a tight all over field pattern of tiny floral motifs.

Field: The main section of the rug that is surrounded by the border.

Foundation: The strands of warp and weft which make up the base of the rug.

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


Gabbeh: Thick, long-piled rugs produced by the tribes of Fars.

Genje: Long rugs, mostly 3ft or 4ft by 9ft or 10ft depicting diagonal and colorful bars throughout the field.

Ghiordes: A town in western Turkey where small prayer rugs were woven. The rugs have small geometric and pointed mihrab surrounded by three or more borders.

Gul: Octagonal or angular repetitive medallions usually elongated and divided into four. The word means “rose or flower”.


Hali: A Turkish word for rug.

Halicilik: A Turkish word for rug merchant.

Hamedan: Rugs made in Hamedan, one of the oldest cities in the world. Hamedan rugs have a geometric pattern with a single-weft medallion.

Handle: The weight and stiffness or flexibility of a rug.

Hatchli: An old rug design where the field is divided into sections by stripes or bars. Hatchli rugs were originally used to cover the entrances of Turkoman tents.

Herati Design: A design featuring four leaves woven around a diamond. This design is sometimes called the Fish design although it has no resemblance to a fish.

Hereke: The finest contemporary Turkish rugs are still made in Hereke. Wool, silk, and metallic threads are all used.

Heriz: Large bold geometric designed rugs that are firmly woven.


Inscription: Script which is woven into a traditional rug. The script can be a date, name or initials of a weaver, some religious or poetic quote or a name of a religious donor.


Kilim: A flat woven rug.

Kolyai: Rugs that have bright and lively colors, usually with a large central medallion in a hexagonal Herati diamond design. Many Koliai carpets are runners of great length, 20 to 40 feet being.

Konya: A famous Turkish city of rug production. Prayer rugs with red backgrounds are popular as well as Yastiks and mats.


Ladik: A famous Turkish carpet production area that is known for small prayer rugs primarily in red and blue with mihrab depictions.


Mafrash: Large bags used by nomads.

Medallion: A large design found in the center of some traditional rugs.

Melas: Melas is a small town in Turkey. Melas rugs are very finely woven commonly found with the mihrab design.

Mihrab: A typical design in a prayer rug derived from the niche or chamber in a mosque.

Mina Khani: A rug with a design field that is covered with daisies and connected together with lines that form diamonds or circles in an all-over pattern.

Mordants: Metallic salts, generally of iron, tin, copper or aluminum, used to attach certain natural dyes to wool fibers.

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


Namakdan: A woven salt bag used by nomads during their travels.

Navajo rugs: Navajo rugs are very famous for their unique flat woven design.


Oriental rug (Traditional rug): A handmade carpet. Rugs that are traditional design made by machine or any other method other than hand-knotting or hand-weaving are not considered authentic traditional rugs.


Panderma: Panderma rugs have beige, coral and or light green coloration.

Pile: A rugs surface, formed by the creation of knots in the foundation.

Prayer Rugs: A small traditional rug typically 2 -4 feet wide and 4-8 feet long.

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


Quashqai: A confederacy of tribes known for high quality antique tribal rugs.

Quatref: Round symmetrical ornaments with four lobes.


Raj: Number of knots per 7 cm.

Reciprocal design: A motif in contrasting colors but a consistent repeating pattern.

Rosette: A circular arrangement of motifs radiating out from the center of a rug suggesting the petals of a rose.

Runners: Rugs that generally measure not more than 3-4 feet wide and 8-20 feet in length.


Sardinian Rugs: Very precious rugs from Sardinia, Italy with the central section depicting figures or geometrical patterns.

Serapi: Serapi carpets are best known for their large, bold geometric patterns.

Sofreh: A small flat woven rectangular cloth used as a tablecloth.

Soumak: A flat-weave rug with a herringbone effect. This rug appears to resemble embroidery work.

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

Strap work: An interlacing design resembling straps.


Tabriz: Tabriz weavers are known to copy many designs that include medallions, hunting patterns, prayer and pictorial rugs.

Tapestry: A hand woven wall hanging with a flat weave.

Tea Wash: A procedure used to give an antique appearance to a rug.


Ushak: Ushak rugs generally have a medallion design or an all over pattern design.


Varamin: Persian carpets decorated with flowers in vases. Many Varamin rugs can only be viewed from one direction.

Vase carpet: A group of Persian carpets decorated with flowers in vases. Many Vase carpets can only be viewed from one direction.

Village rugs: Rugs that are made in villages or small workshops.


War rugs: Rugs woven during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. These rugs depict weapons of war, including tanks, guns and helicopters.

Warp: The lengthwise or vertical threads of yarn on which the weaver ties the knots.

Weft: Threads of yarn that run the width of the rug. The thread inserted across the width of the loom after each row of knots to hold them in place.


Yalameh rug: Village rugs typically with diamond medallions that are surrounded by geometric and animal motifs.

Yastik: A 3 x 1 foot Turkish rug usually used as a pillow or cushion cover.

Yomud: Yomud rugs are more colorful than any other Turkoman tribal rugs. Main field color is reddish brown while borders are frequently in ivory.

Yuruk: Turkish term for a nomad living in Turkey.


Zoroaster: An ancient Persian prophet.