Rug Glossary

Term Description
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.
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.
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.
Bamboo silk The fibers of the noble bamboo plant are very long and strong. With special treatment they can be spun into a yarn that is lustrous like silk yet cool to the touch. Bamboo yarn is uneven in color and texture and the result is a rustic finish that exhibits interesting fluctuations in tone for a natural look.
Asymmetrical Knot - Persian or Senneh knot A pile knotting technique where only one or the two warps is completely encircled.
Aubusson Originally flat-weave rugs from the 15th century France; nowadays often made as a pile rug.
Backing Fabric or yarns serving as a foundation for the face fiber.
Bakhtiari The Bakhtiari confederation is a large and powerful group, covering much of central and southwestern Iran.  Small rugs, saddlebags and trappings are woven by nomadic Bakhtiaris, 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 floral 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.
Berber Naturally (undyed) looking rug or carpet; originally made by North African Berber tribes from undyed wool.
Bokhara The capitol of Uzbekistan and the traditional trading center for Turkmen tribal carpets.  Today, rugs called Bokhara are usually made in Pakistan using Tekke Turkoman designs.
Bonded - or fusion bonded Carpet with tufts planted into a vinyl backing; has impermeable backing with better tuft lock than any other construction type.
Boteh This is a motif in stylized form representing either a pine cone or a palmetto, the sacred flame of Zoroaster or a Cypress tree. Sometimes called a Paisley Pattern.  Seen in many types of Oriental rugs and transitional rugs.
Braided Usually circular/oval rugs made of braided yarns.
Broadloom Carpet wider than 6 feet.
Brocade Flat-weave rug variation, in which additional colored weft strands are added over existing warp and weft structure.
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.
Classical A vague term referring to court carpets produced prior to the 19th century.
Cloudband A stylized depiction of a cloud resembling a band knotted at its collar.  Originally a Chinese design but is often seen in Persian 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.
Cotton Soft natural plant fiber, inferior to wool and sisal or hemp.
Curvilinear With smooth curved patterns.
Cushion Also known as pad or underlay, shock-absorbing material placed underneath a rug, or carpet.
Density Individual fiber count per unit of rug/carpet area indicator; obtained from the pile yarn weight, or "face weight" (in ounces per sq. yard) divided by pile height (in inches).
Dyeing Adding colors to rug/carpet fiber, yarn or fabric; face fiber dyeing can be done before yarn is spun (solution or stock dyeing), after it (skein, package or space dyeing) and after rug/carpet is put together (piece and continuous dyeing, printing).
Fading Loss of color due to the effects of light, gases (ozone, nitric oxide, hydrogen sulfide) or chemicals (cleaners, bleach, chlorine).
Field The main section of the rug that is surrounded by the boarder and contains the central medallion or other motifs.
Flatwoven Rugs with the yarn woven through and along the warps.
Fringe The excess warp threads extending from the end of the rug sometimes finished in macramé style knotting.
Frisé (free-zay) Carpet with very tightly twisted pile, giving to it a nubby/curled appearance.
Gauge Separation between two neighboring tufting needles in inches; the smaller the gauge, the more dense the rug/carpet; quality units need to have 1/8 gauge of or smaller.
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.
Halicilik A Turkish word for rug merchant.
Handle The weight and stiffness or flexibility of a rug.  A rug´s handle might be described in terms such flexible, stiff, of soft.
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 really represent fish.
Hooked Made by pulling yarns through a backing.
Jute Natural fiber often used for rug/carpet backing material.
Kilim Originally small flat woven tribal or village rugs from east-central Asia.
Knot count Number of knots per square inch.
Knotted Usually high-quality handmade woven rug made by tying each individual yarn tuft to the warp strand.
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.
Lozenge A diamond shaped parallelogram or rhombus.
Matting Apparent rug/carpet pile crush caused by foot traffic.
Medallion Large central ornament often featured on traditional oriental and European rugs.
Mihrab Typical design of a prayer rug derived from the niche or chamber in a mosque.
Motifs Single or repeated design elements found throughout the rug.
Nylon Strong, resilient synthetic fiber; the two types used for most commercial carpets are 6 and 6.6; branded nylons have their properties specified by the manufacturer, unlike unbranded varieties.
Olefin (polypropylene) Strong synthetic fiber with very good chemical properties and low resilience.
Pad Also known as cushion or underlay, shock-absorbing material placed underneath a rug, or carpet.
Pile Also known asface, is the top surface of a carpet or rug.
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.
Pitch Length between two neighboring stitches in woven rugs/carpets; expressed as a number of yarn ends in a 27-inch width.
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.
Quatref Round symmetrical ornaments with four lobes.
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.
Resilience The ability of the face fiber to regain the original thickness after being subjected to compression force.
Rosette A motif resembling an open flower consisting of a circular arrangement of parts around a center.
Runner Long narrow rug up to 3 feet wide.
Saf A prayer rug containing multiple prayer niches.
Sculptured With a pattern created by uneven pile height.
Shahsavan A confederation of Turkic speaking tribes living in Azerbaijan.  They are known for making sumak bags and kilims.
Sisal Strong natural plant fiber used as rug face fiber.
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.
Spandrel An ornamental treatment located at the corners of the field.
Strapwork An interlacing design resembling straps.
Soumak Flat weave rug variety with knot-free weaving technique.
Tapestry Flat weave rug with intricate color/pattern details.
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
Tuft bind Force required to pull a tuft out of backing, with the minimum from 10 to 3 pounds of single pull force for loop and cut pile, respectively.
Tufted Made on machine with needles inserting pile yarn into a backing; most economical serial rug/carpet production method.
Twist Number of yarn twists per inch of pile yarn length; usually in the 3-5 range.
Underlay Also known as cushion or pad, shock-absorbing material placed underneath a rug, or carpet.
Velvet carpet Woven on velvet loom, typically in solid colors.
Warp Length-wise running yarn in woven rug/carpets, interlacing with weft yarns.
Wool Strong natural fiber of animal origin; the oldest , most luxurious after silk rug face fiber material.
Watermark Irreversible shading of large rug/carpet pile areas, due to different yarn fiber orientations; not a manufacturing defect.
Weft Width-wise running yarn in woven rug/carpets, interlacing with warp yarns.
Weaving an Oriental Carpet To execute the design we must weave the carpet. Our rugs are hand-knotted, staying true to the traditional weaving arts. In other words, our rugs are created by interlacing wefts and warps into a unified backing/pile structure.
Oriental Rug Fibers Oriental Rugs may be woven with wool, silk and cotton or synthetic yarn. Antique Persian Rugs use wool, silk and cotton that was locally sourced. Some very high-end Persian Rugs used silk and even gold thread.

Our own line of Oriental Rugs are woven with New Zealand wool on a cotton or silk foundation.

Our Tibetan Rugs, which are prominent in the contemporary design, use wool from sheep grazed at high altitude in Nepal or Tibet.