Oriental and Persian Rug Term Glossary



Abrash: This term refers to a random change in a particular colour seen on a rugs’ surface. This happens by chance and becomes more evident with age. It is often due to slightly different batches of wool, dye or because slightly different techniques were employed in the creation of the dye. Abrash can be artificially encouraged during manufacture of some new rugs. Natural dyes produce random abrash, while synthetic dyes result in flat tones.

Afshar: A tribe of Turkic extraction living in South Persia and famed for their unique and generally small rugs, bags and trappings.

Agra: A city near the present border of India and Pakistan famed for great large antique carpets including those from the time of the British Raj.

Akstafa: A tribal rug type/area from East Caucasus.

All-over design: This term refers to both bold and small repetitive designs that cover the field of a rug or carpet evenly. There is no central medallion.

Amulets: A charm inscribed with magical incantations and symbols to protect and aid the wearer against evil.

Anatolia: The historic name of Turkey, a rug producing country that is the bridge between Europe and Asia. See Turkey.

Aniline Dyes: The first synthetic dyes invented in the mid 19th Century. These dyes proved to be unstable in many cases either bleeding or losing their colour over time. “As fleeting as an aniline dye.”

Armenia: An independent country in the Southern Caucasus famed legendary wavers who created extraordinary rugs and carpets.

Asmalyk: A Central Asian weaving used to adorn the litter on a camel during a wedding procession.

Asymmetrical, Persian or Senneh Knot: A strand of wool is pulled under one warp and then over and under the neighboring warp. The ends are then pulled up to comprise the pile. Not all rugs woven in Persia use this knot. One type of knot is not better than another and all perform well.

Aubusson: Fine tapestries woven in France.

Ardibil: Persian Rug. Antiques are really beautiful.

Abrash: Variations in the shade of a single color within a carpet, usually appearing in a horizontal line. Abrash can be caused when the weaver uses wool to which the dye has been unevenly applied, or uses wool from different dye lots. Even within the same dye lot abrash can be caused by differences in the water used to rinse the dyed wool or by differences in the wool itself.

All-over: A term used to describe a repeated pattern that covers the entire field of a rug. This type of pattern is usually woven without a central medallion.

Antique: The strict definition of an antique rug, which is still used by the United States Customs, requires that the rug be over a hundred years old. In reality, most rugs from the nineteenth century, even if they’re less than a hundred years old, are now considered semi-antiques.

Antiqued, antiquing: The term antiqued or antiquing refers to a type of chemical washing which gives an old look to a rug. This process is generally used on Chinese rugs that have been woven in the Peking design.

Arabesque: A design element consisting of complex, intertwining vines, tendrils, leaves, and flowers.

Asymmetrical knot: See Persian knot.

Aubusson: A rug woven in France using the kelim, or slit-tapestry technique. The term is also used to refer to the familiar design of these rugs, which generally features a floral medallion worked in pastel shades.

Abrash: Dye Lot changes in the yarn show up as a different shade of color in the rug. Subtle abrash in tribal or village rugs enhances the folk art look. Major abrash in workshop rugs is considered a defect in dye control.

All over pattern: Continuous design throughout the field of the rug.

Antique Finish / Wash: A modern chemical washing procedure that produces softer tones or antiques the rug to simulate aging.

Asymmetrical Knot: A knot that may be open to the right or the left. Also known as Persian or Senneh knot.

Aubusson: A flat weave, pileless rug predominantly made in China and India, featuring a floral medallion with curvilinear floral borders and soft pastel colors.

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 abash 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

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.

Agra: Indian rugs that come from central india. Most enjoy the blue and gold hues in this rug.

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: “Persian” of “Senneh” knot. A pile knotting technique where only one or the two warps is completely encircled. See Oriental rug knots.

Aubusson: Fine flat carpets woven in France from the 15th to 19th Centuries. A term used to describe modern rugs that use similar designs and colors.


Bahkshaish: Antique village rugs with geometric designs and a minimal quality from North West Persia.

Balouch: A nomadic (now partially settled or seasonally migrant) peoples living in parts of Eastern Persia, Afghanistan and South West Pakistan. Balouch weavings are interesting, generally small and very soulful.

Balouchestan: A stretch of land from Bam in South East Persia to Quetta in Pakistan.

Bergama or Pergamon: A rug producing town in West Anatolia on the Mediterranean. Rugs are produced in small surrounding villages and sold in the town itself.

Beshir: A tribal weaving group/type from South Turkestan, Central Asia. Many Beshir were sold in a local town of the same name.

Binding: The binding is a further covering of wool over the selvage itself which runs down the sides of all rugs. The deterioration of the selvage is designed to act as a warning to repair the sides of the rug before it is worn away.

Bleed/bleeding: An area on the rug where a colour has become unstable and has moved during washing into another colour of the carpet causing unsightly and unintentional colour variation. Often seen where a red colour has bled into a surrounding ivory area.

Border: The major border refers to the frame like band surrounding the field on all sides.

Bordjaou: A sub-type of Kazak with a distinct design from South West Caucasus.

Boteh or Paisley Designs: A floral design of unknown Asian origin that gained world-wide recognition through the use of it by Paisley, a European textile designer. There are numerous meanings or interpretations of the design including a parrot, pine cone or the royal signature of an illiterate king.

Brocading: A weaving technique similar to but denser than kelim work. The pattern is created by ‘floating’ the design over the foundation.

Beyata Dye: Mostly found in Navajo rugs and Navajo blankets.

Bag: A small, square pile rug with a long kelim that folds back to form a compartment. Originally hung over the back of a pack animal.

Bokhara: The city of Bokhara was once an important trade centre in Turkestan, and in the past all rugs sent there for resale were simply called Bokhara rugs. Today the term Bokhara refers to a general type of Turkoman rug that is woven in northeastern Iran and in Russia. Bokhara rugs are worked in the classic Turkoman elephant’s foot octagon, also known as a gul. This pattern is repeated in rows and columns, usually on a deep red field. The relatively simple and adaptable Bokhara pattern was the first to be produced in Pakistan. There and in India it’s made in a vast range or sizes, from 1 foot square mats up to 18 by 12 foot and larger room sizes. In addition to the traditional red color scheme, Pakistani and Indian Bokharas are found in rust, tan, orange, light and dark blue, green, aqua, and gold.

Border: 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. The border stripes, which almost always are present on all four sides of the rug, are worked either in a single color or in various patterns.

Boteh: A classic design element from which the well-known paisley motif is derived. Also referred to as a pear, a leaf, a pine cone, or a palm.

Brocade, brocaded: Any weaving that has a raised pattern through it.

Brocading: a technique used in weaving flat woven rugs, in which supplementary wefts, which form the design of the rug, wholly or partially cover the basic warp and weft. The sumack technique is a form of brocading.

Broken border A border that’s extended into the field rather than separated from it by straight lines. This type of border is usually much more closely related to the pattern in the field of the rug than other borders are. It’s usually seen in rugs that are based on French designs.

Border: A design around the edge of a rug, surrounding the field. The border usually includes a wide band with a repeating design, called the main border.

Boteh: A pear-shaped figure often used in Oriental rug designs: Characteristic of the paisley pattern, the Boteh may represent a leaf, bush, or pinecone.

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 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.

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.

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

Bidjar rugs: Persian antiques sought after for their beauty.

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


Camel hair: Weaving material of a soft and of lustrous quality used primarily and sparingly in old and rare tribal rugs.

Carpet: Generally considered to be a pile weaving larger than 5 ‘0 x 8 ‘0.

Cartoon: This term applies to a loom drawing of the proposed carpet where 14 of the carpet is drawn out on graph paper outlining knots in various dots of paint. As the weavers work a singer often sings the next knot out in song saving the weaver the effort of constantly reading the cartoon.

Chemical Wash: Removes ‘bad’ colour, changes colour palette or ages a rug with a chemical bath. The technique is often extremely abrasive to the wool and strips the natural lanolin out of the wool. This reduces a carpet’s life span and performance.

Chichi: The Chechen name given to tribal rugs and rug production in this area.

Chrome Dyes: Invented in the 20th Century and allowed for colourfast wool dyes.

Cleaning: This process differs from washing and is employed when rugs can not be submerged due to condition problems or running dyes. In such instances the surface should be cleaned carefully.

Colour Fast: A dye that retains its original colour even after years of use, washing, and exposure to sunlight.

Colour-Run: An area on a rug/carpet where a slightly unstable dye has moved or moves. Colour-run is usually exacerbated with the application of water. Running is normally seen on the white and other light areas of a rug.

Condition: A term used to describe the health and physical status of a rug including its surface and interior construction.

Corrosion: Seen when one particular colour has worn more than surrounding areas of colour. An effect of relief or embossing is created when the colours that wear faster stand out against areas of the rug with more pile. Often seen in black dyes due to high iron content which causes the wool to be more brittle and thus corrode faster. It may be possible to date certain rugs as a result of corrosion.

Cotton: Naturally found plant fiber, it has long been used by carpet makers especially for warp threads in rugs and city carpets.

Creases: Much the same as Fold-Wear.

Cut: A long incision into a significant portion of a rug’s body or stretching across a rug’s surface. Often the two pieces are merely sewed together.

Chimayo Blanket: the chimayo blanket is some times confused with the Navajo Weaving. The Spanish-American weaving center at Chimayo, north of Sante Fe, New Mexico, specializes in a distinctive tapestry.

Crystal Navajo Rugs: Navajo Rugs or Navajo Blanket.

Cartoon: The design of a rug, as it’s represented on graph paper. Each block, or square represents a single knot in the pile

Cartouche: A design element that faintly resembles a panel. The cartouche may be solid colored, or it may contain an inscription, a date, or another design.

Carved, carving: See embossing.

Caucasian: A generic name that refers to the geometric, boldly colored design that were originally produced in the Caucasus Mountain region.

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.

Chrome dyes: Modern synthetic dyes that use potassium bichromate to create a bond between the dye stuff and the fiber.

Cicim: The traditional word for an Anatolian blanket made of several different bands of undyed coulomb fabric that have been sewn together and embroidered. Also called a djidjim.

Cloud band: A design element, usually associated with Chinese rugs, which actually appears in floral pattern throughout the world. The figure resembles wispy clouds or the Greek letter omega.

Corner: A major design element in many carpets. Usually contains either a quarter section of the central medallion or some other distinct pattern

Covered: A term that describes how much of the central field of a particular rug is occupied by the design. A covered field is the opposite of an open field.

Crown: A prefix sometimes attached to the name of a traditional rug type or a trademarked rug name. This is often used to suggest a degree of quality, but it has no real significance.

Carding: The combing of fibers with wire bristle brushes prior to spinning.

Cartoon Mapping: A grid on paper with colored spaces to guide rug weavers in the execution of a rug’s design.

Carving: The process of shearing around a design or symbol to enhance the look of the rug. This is commonly done in some Chinese and Tibetan rugs.

Chief Blanket: First phase Chief Blanket , Second phase Chief blanket , Third phase Chief blanket ; Chief Variant Blankets. These rug have a linear design, and as the phases increase so does the design some have crosses, and diamonds within the linear lines. Most dyes are beyeta reds , indigo blues, and churro wool. Some of these blankets sale for half million dollars.

Chemical Washing: Rugs may be washed in chemical solutions to soften colors, to increase the luster of fibers and to lend the pile a softer hand or feel.

Colorfast: Describes a dye that is stable to both light and washing.

Combing: The process of preparing wool fibers for spinning by sorting them in the same direction.

Crushing: The loss of pile thickness as a result of foot traffic.

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.

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.


Dragon Soumac: A Soumac Kilim of very specific and sought after stylized design from the Eastern Caucasus.

Dusting: The process of removing accumulated dust caught in the middle of a rug. Dusting by hand is most effective but can be time consuming. However it is essential in order for the rug to be washed properly.

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

Dhurrie: A low cost flatwoven rug from India.

Density: A measure of the quality of the rug’s construction that’s determined by two factors: the number of knots and the height of the pile in a given area of the rug.

Dhurrie: A flat-woven carpet made in India using the warp-sharing, kelim technique.

Djidjim: See cicim.


Engsi: sometimes called hatchli a type of rug that served instead of a door at the entrance to the Turkoman Tent, and may have been used for morning prayers, or prayers.

Esfahan: See Isfahan (persian rug)

Edge Wrap: The sides of the rug are wrapped with thick yarn to secure the outer edges. This should be done during the weaving process.

Eye Dazzler: Navajo rugs or navajos blankets that are bright in colors with a wide variety. Most of these colors appear to have movement, and this design is one of the few that copy Persian designs. I do agree that was more of a coincidence than copying as the Orientals and India (country) did.

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


Fold-Wear: Long lines of damage extending from the border directly into the field. This is occurs when a rug has been folded over and stepped on for some time.

Foundation: When the warp and weft threads meet they form the foundation. Knots are tied to the foundation and then form the pile.

Full Pile: A term used to describe pile in near perfect condition.

Ferahan: A town in the Arak weaving district of Iran. The name is often used to describe rugs made using the Herati design.

Field: The largest area of a carpet; the central portion that’s enclosed by the borders.

Foundation: The warps and wefts of a pile rug

Fringe: The continuation of the warp threads at each end of the carpet. Sometimes knotted or plaited.

Fugitive dye: A darker color that has bled, or run, into an adjoining lighter color in the pile of a rug.

Field:  The part of a rug’s design surrounded by the border.  The field may be blank or contain medallions or an all-over pattern.

Flat weave:  Any Rug woven without a knotted pile.

Foundation:  The combination of warps and wefts in the body of a rug.

Fringe:  Warps extending from the ends of a rug, which are treated in several ways to prevent the wefts and knots from unraveling.

Farsi: The official language of Iran. Also known as Persian.

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

Flatwoven: A rug made without knotted pile.

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


Gallup: Navajo rugs.  Navajo style weave with aniline and dine dye.

Ganado: navajo style rugs and navajo blankets.

GermanTown rugs: german town rugs are Navajo weavings.  Can also be found in Navajo blankets.

Garden rug:
A design in which the field of the rug is divided into squares or rectangles that contain plants and animals, or outdoor scenes.

See Turkish knot. Also a classic style of Turkish rug (often a prayer rug) the design of which is characterized by narrow borders and abstractly drawn flowers.

Gold washing:
A process, usually seen in rugs from Afghanistan, in which the original red color of the pile is bleached out to shades of gold, coral, and amber after the weaving process has been completed.

Goat Hair: Goat hair was often used in old and antique tribal rugs. Fibers are long and straight compared to wool and are used often to create selvages.

Guard-Stripe: Refers to the very narrow border on either side of the main border of a carpet.

Gul: A design element consisting of a squat polygon, usually arranged in rows and columns. At one time, each different gul represented a different tribal coat of arms.

Guli hinnai: A repeating design consisting of rows of brightly colored, stemmed henna flowers.

Ghiordes knot:  See Symmetrical knot.

Glide Reflections:  Rigid motion with reflected repetition along a line.

Gul:  A medallion, either octagonal or angular in shape, used in Turkman Designs.  It is often repeated to form an all-over pattern in the field. This is an octagonal motif, usually elongated and divided into four.  The word means “rose or flower”.

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.


Hamadan: An important rug making city and district in North West Persia. It is one of the most prolific of all rug-making districts. Hundreds of designs have originated or been reinterpreted in Hamadan.

Handle: The way a rug feels when being flopped and shaken. A rug with a wool warp has a very different handle than a rug with a cotton warp. A wool warp creates a very blanket like weaving. Most good tribal rugs have this quality. City rugs are harder to bend due to the cotton warps.

Hand-made: A term that refers to a carpet made by machinery operated by human hands. It is not to be confused with a hand-knotted rug.

Hand-Tufted: A fiber is ‘shot’ with a gun-like device by hand into hot latex backing with speed and pressure.

Herbal Wash: A process similar to a tea wash but employing different substances.

Heriz or Harris: Generally large village rugs with geometric designs from North West Persia. Older ones have wide color palette while new ones tend toward reds and blues. A collection of 30 to 40 villages are where the carpets are produced and then marketed in Heriz.

Holes: Obvious breaks in the mesh created by the warp and wefts.

Heyhe: the small double saddlebags found in all parts of the Islamic rug weaving world, generally woven continuously in one piece and often cut up into two decorated bag faces.

Heddle: a part of a loom ; a wooden stick attached to the lower warps by loops of string, used to pull the lower warps through and above the upper warps.

Hand made:  Any rug constructed by hand.

Hand tufting: A form of hooking: yarns are pushed though the foundation of a rug (usually canvas) with a tufting gun to form a pattern.

Hali: A Turkish word for rug.

Hali (qali): A Turkish word that means carpet.

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.

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.

Heriz Persian Rugs: Persian Rugs made with the turkish knot from the Heriz area.  The city of Tabriz also made very high quality heriz rugs with fine persian knots.


Isfahan Persain Rugs: High quality rugs.  The most impressive Isfahan Master Weaver Families is the Sierafan.  Most of these rugs are floral motifs, or images of the mosque ceilings.

Imperial: See Crown.

Indigo Dye: One of the most intense and efficient sources of the colour blue.
A expessive and beautiful dye found in most Persians, Prized Navajos, and Oriental rugs and Kilims.

Indo: A prefix used in combination with the name of a traditional rug type to identify India as the rug’s country of origin.

Interlacing:  Atiyeh rugs used a multi-color wool-yarn interlaced within the flat selvage at two ends.  The purpose is function, not form.  Years into the future (75-100), if the fringe is worn away by use, this interlace will secure selvage and alert the owner it is time overcast this are


Jufti knot:  A knot tied over four warps instead of the usual two.


Karabagh: A tribal rug type reputably woven by Armenian weavers in the rug producing region of the South East Caucasus.

Karachopt: A sub-type of Kazak of specific design from the South West Caucasus.

Karadja: A village in North West Persia where carpets of a particular geometric design are woven.

Karagashli: A tribal rug type/area where fine, thin pile rugs originate in North East Caucasus.

Karapinar: A Central Anatolian village that has produced some great weavers and rugs.

Kashan: A distinct floral rug from Central Persia with mostly red fields and navy blue borders. Blue wefting is common in older Kashans.

Kazak: Also known as Cossacks, a rug producing tribal group from the South West Caucasus that has created what is among today’s most collectible rugs.

Kelim, Kilim, Flat-weave and Tapestry weave: Warp and Weft are interlocked thus creating colour and design. Kilims are characterized by a thin ‘tapestry’ like feeling. They were created by nomadic tribes for their own use and were not highly considered until relatively recently. Bold design and colour as well as the weaver’s spontaneity are good reasons to enjoy a kelim.

Kerman: A fine floral rug type from the city of Kerman in South East Persia

Keyserie: A floral rug from an urban weaving center in North East Anatolia

Khamseh: A tribal rug type woven by the ‘Turkic’ tribes of SW Persia. The word means five.

Knotted: This is the traditional way an Oriental rug or carpet is woven. If in any doubt ask the store or dealer to specify unequivocally on paper that it is hand-knotted rug or carpet. Knots are painstakingly tied to the warp and weft. Using different colour wool creates the design.

Kuba: A tribal rug type as well as a producing town from the North East Caucasus. These fine weavings were reputably woven by Armenians.

Kurdish/Kurds: A tribal group of people who generally inhabit Kurdistan a geographic area located primarily in Persia, Iraq and Turkey. Kurds have created some of the most creative of all tribal rugs. They are becoming increasingly sought after and collectible.

Kerman:  a city and province in Southeastern Iran where Atiyeh rugs were first produced.  The name Kerman also refers to our design style of rugs we now produce in China.

Kilim:  A flat weave pileless rug woven using the tapestry technique.  Commonly decorated with geometric patterns and bright colors, these rugs are usually used in high traffic areas like kitchens and game rooms.

kilim – a weft-faced tapestry-woven rug of the so-called slit variety, in which slits appear in the fabric where two colors meet at a vertical line.  The term is used also as another name for the slit-tapestry technique itself.

Kork:  Any fine wool

Knots:  The wrapping around the warps of the yarn (usually wool) threads, the ends of which project to form the pile of the rug.

knot- the basic structural unit of the pile rug ; knots vary according to local  and tribal traditions, with the two main types being the symmetrical and asymmerical varieties.

Knots per square inch: Number of knots per square inch rates the knot quality in hand knotted rugs.  Usually noted by the K.P.S.I. designation (i.e., K.P.S.I. 240).

Klagetoh: Style of Navajo rugs and navajo blankets.

Kufic Script: A term for the bold, rectilinear calligraphic script which became highly stylized and used as decorative elements rather than text.


Lavar Kirman: A fine floral rug type of a particular age, weave type and stylization from the city by the same name in South East Persia. They are generally much older than Kermans.

Lenkoran: A tribal rug type from South Caucasus.

Lori Pambak: A sub-type of Kazak rugs with a distinct design from the Caucasus.

Luri/Lori: A tribal weaving group of South West Persia and the plains of Veramin, North Persia.

Lines:  Some mass produced Chinese rugs graded by line count which indicates the number of knots per lineal foot.  For other characteristics of rug quality you should consider the variables of wool quality, weaving construction, pile height or the number of top colors.

Loom:  A wooden structure that holds the warp and weft threads for weaving the rug.  It can be vertical or horizontal. The height and width of the loom determines the rug size.  AND  Loom
Frame or machine used for interlacing two or more sets of threads or yarns to form a rug or other textile.

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

Lozenge: A diamond shaped parallelogram or rhombus.


Macrame: A unique technique of twisting the fringes at the end of a rug into a latticework. This is usually seen on Caucasian rugs.

Mahal: A carpet type as well as producing area in Central Persia. It can refer to a particular quality range and often have pale blue wefts.

Malayer: A sub-type of village Hamadan from North West Persia characterized by little vertical white lines running from the top to bottom of a rug and seen best on the reverse.

Medallion: A round or cloudlike motif resting in the center of a carpet’s field.

Medium-Low Pile: A term used in the trade to designate that while a carpet has been used it is still serviceable and usable.

Melas: Rugs originate from this town on the Aegean Sea in Western Turkey.

Meshad or Mashad: Capital of the Khorrasan province in North Eastern Persia where Afghanistan and Central Asia meet. Meshad is well known for large floral carpets often in deep burgundy palettes woven with both Persian and Turkish knots. Amoghli was a famous master weaver who worked in Meshad and produced stunning rugs.

Mordant: The meaning of the word is ‘to bite’. During the dying of wool the mordant is a salt that binds the dye to the wool. See Antiquarius Dye Lecture

Moths/Damage: Moths are the natural enemy of all woolen creations. They attack rugs normally from the reverse but the damage is seen always on the front. Areas of the pile seem to completely ‘bald’ with no rhyme or reason. An expert on mothproofing should immediately treat the affected rug.

Mughal Rug: Rugs and carpets woven during the reign of the Mogul Kings of Iran and North India. The term refers not only to an age but also stylistic similarities.

Master Weaver: Educated person who can hand spoon, hand dye, hand clean, or repair any rug in any condition.  Also he/ she must be able to make a rug with 600 Knots per square inch from start to finish.  (Museum Quality repairs and cleaning.)

Mafrash: a small bag woven by Turkoman nomads, generally much wider than it is deep, used to hold small articles of clothing and other personal belongings.  The term is also used for a variety of bags form in Iran (persia) and Turkey.

Mashed: (Mashad)  Fine Persian rugs ; city where sarooks where made to be exported to the America and Europe.

Matting:  The result of the untwisting of the yarn and intermingling of the yarn tips as a result of foot traffic.

Medallion:  The large enclosed portion of a design, usually in the center.  Typical shapes are diamonds, octagons, ovals, and hexagons.

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

Mihrab: Typical design of a prayer rug derived from the niche or chamber in a mosque.

Mihrab: a recess or niche in the wall of a muslim house of prayer which faces the Holy City of Mecca; often depicted in a more or less architectural form in sejjadeh rugs.

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


Nap: This term refers to the direction in which the pile falls. ‘Going with the nap’ means running one’s hand with the smooth direction of the pile. ‘Against the nap’ refers to pushing against the surface of the pile in the rough direction. Nap is created by the downward stroke of cutting the wool fibers once a knot has been completed and the weaver’s wants to free the ball of yarn used for that knot in order to execute other knots. The knife is held over the yarn and cut with a downward stroke. All the downward cuts together cause the fibers to slant downward and cause the smooth and rough side of the pile. Light reflects differently onto each side of the rug. It is reflected easily off the smooth side making it look lighter while being absorbed into the dark side making it appear darker. This effect can be counterbalanced by the use of lighting in a room.

Ninghsia: A style of antique rug from Western China.

Navajo Rugs: Rugs made from the Native Americans.  All of these rugs are flat-weaves bearing no pile or knot.  Most are made out of Aniline Dye, and Dine dyes.  Most larger and older rugs are called Blankets.

Navajo Blankets: Mostly are Navajo Weavings that are larger than 5 X 6 and woven prior than 1920s.

Nain: City 30 miles from Isfahan.  This City has been making fine blue/Ivory rugs for centuries now.

Nap:  Top or body of the rug where the knot ends are cut.  Rugs have nap direction caused by the knotting direction. Often a tightly knotted rug will look light at one end and dark from the other end.

Needlepoint:  A flat weave, pileless rug woven using a stitch similar to a cross-stitch.  Mainly produced in China, workers peer through the canvas to follow the design, Which is spread out flat underneath it. Workers stitch directly onto the canvas.

Node:  One loop of a pile knot around a warp as seen from the back of the rug.


Oriental style: A rug or carpet woven generally by a machine to imitate a hand-knotted carpet.

Oushak: A rug type and producing city in Western Anatolia. This rug style is much in demand today.

Overcast: Overcasting is a loose sewing technique where an area or end of a rug has been secured. This prevents further deterioration of losses to the rug

Oriental Rug:  A hand knotted piled or flat woven fabric made from natural fibers (most commonly wool or silk.)

Overcastting:  A process by which selvedges are wrapped or interwoven with a yarn that is not part of the foundation weft.


Paint/Painted: The changing of an undesirable colour or covering by masking it with dye after the rug was woven. The ‘paint’ comes out over time especially after washing.

Pile: Wool is knotted around warp threads creating pattern and colour. Wefts are inserted between the rows of knots. The surface one stands on or touches on a rug is considered to be the pile.

Pendleton Blanket: This is seen as a curse to the Navajo weaving culture and rugs.  These machine made rugs were the cause of the loss of weavings by the Navajos.  Some have loss design and weave types due to these hitting the market.  After all, why take the time to make a Navajo blanket than buying a machine made at fraction cost.

Patina:  The mellowing of the surfacing appearance of a rug usually with age or use. Can also be achieved with chemical washes.

Pattern:  Foundation of the rug design.

Persian knot:  See Asymmetrical knot.

Pile:  The nap of the rug or the tufts remaining after the knotted yarns is clipped.  Most rugs have wool pile, while some have silk or a combination of silk and wool pile.

Power loomed:  Machine made rug

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

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.


Qashgai: A Turkic confederation from South West Persia of nomadic and currently seasonal nomads that weave sought after rugs.

Qum: An area not far from Teheran. Weaving here is a relatively new occurrence but has become well known today for the fine quality rugs woven there including pure silk rugs of silk pile and warp threads.

Quatref: Round symmetrical ornaments with four lobes.


Ram’s horn motif: An interesting symbol seen frequently at the tops and bottoms of central medallions in both geometric and floral carpets.

Reduced: A method of avoiding a costly repair by cutting out a large damaged section of a carpet and rejoining it with the non-damaged portion of the rug.

Repairs: The practical maintenance of a carpet ensuring that its basic structure is maintained. This is distinct in a subtle way from Restoration.

Repiling: Reknotting the foundation of a carpet where either there has been wear or a hole.

Reselvaged: Where the selvage has worn away and a new selvage has been created.

Restoration: The arduous and artistic rejuvenation of major damage or wear to a carpet.

Rewoven/reweaves: A process in which worn areas of a carpet have been reknotted by tying the correct colors around the warp and wefts. The idea is to recreate a pattern and professionally restore the carpet back to health.

Rot: Where a rug or carpet has been exposed to continued water or damp and the fibers including warp and weft have lost their strength. When pressure is applied to the carpet the carpet disintegrates. Often hard to detect but when the pile is doubled over on itself and is squeezed a popping sound may be heard.

Rug: Generally considered to be a pile weaving smaller than 5 ‘0 x 8 ‘0.

Rainbow man – Found mostly in ceremonial Navajo Yei Rugs and Blankets.  This rainbow man is protecting the rest of the group.

Red Mesa – Navajo rugs and Navajo Blankets

Raj:  Iranian rugs use a knot count based upon raj.  This is the number of lineal knots in 7cm.

Reflection:  A rigid motion with repetition across a line (axis).

Root Names:  When Persian designs are produced in China the word Sino precedes it in a description e. g.:  Sino-Persian.  If a Kerman design is produced in China it is called Sino-Kerman. The same is true with other countries production such as India When Indo precedes the descriptive name.

Rotation:  Rigid motion with repetition around a point.

Runners:  Usually rugs measuring not more than 3 to 4 ft. wide and ranging from 8 to 20 ft. in length.

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.


“S” designs: Seen mainly on very old tribal rugs generally pre-1850. I have heard interpretations that they may represent an old peace icon.

Salor: Once the dominant of all the Turkmen tribes who lived on the Eastern Shores of the Caspian Sea. They wove rugs and bags.

Sarouk or Sarough: These carpets originate from the village of Sarouk in Arak. Antiques were of high quality but later in the 20th C generally degenerated and were woven in surrounding villages as well. A much heavier type was created up to the mid 20th C that had burgundy tones. This became very popular in the United States. Today, all over the world those Sarouks are known in the trade as American Sarouks

Saryk: A tribal weaving group/type from Central Asia.

Selvages: Refers to the sides of rugs/carpets where the warp threads have coloured wool wrapped around them. The sides of rugs have a bumpy line. This is the selvage.

Senneh or Seneh: This town, the capital of Persian Kurdistan, produces rugs and kelims of soft colors and exceptional quality.

Serab: A village rug often employing camel hair colours from North West Persia near the Caucasus. Wonderful runners with quirky Caucasian design elements and wide camel colour borders are made in this region.

Serapi: A large sparsely designed 19th Century geometric village carpets from NW Persia.

Serviceable: A term used to describe a carpet that although old, is still useable and can be washed and cleaned with little or no adverse effect to the rug.

Seychour: A Caucasian tribal rug type/design with a distinct fine thin pile. There is a town of the same name.

Shahsavan: A tribal rug group from the Southern Caucasus and North Western Persia who historically wove rare and interesting rugs. The name means ‘Lover of the Shah.’

Shiraz: The capitol of Fars Provience in South Persia. Rugs here are woven by nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes living near the city.

Shirvan: A village where either fine rugs were woven or sold in East Caucasus.

Soumac Kelim: Refers to a technique of further embroidering a kelim. The name and technique is believed to have originated from the town of the same name between the Black and Caspian Seas. It is an original technique that is complex and very time consuming.

Stable: Same meaning as Colour fast.

Stain Treatments: The cleaning agents and techniques used to remove the visual effects of staining from the surface of the rug.

Stains: Hard to remove material that is the result of food, pet mess or other agents falling on a carpet’s surface.

Strip: Removing ‘paint’ or changing the colour with a chemical wash.

Sultanabad: Large antique carpets much in demand with unusual color palettes and distinctive designs were woven late in the 19th Century and early 20th in this Central Persian town

Symbols: An artistic imitation or invention that is a method of revealing or suggesting the immaterial.

Symmetrical, Turkish or Ghiordes knot: A strand of wool is wrapped around two neighboring warp threads and is drawn together to comprise the pile. The story of the famed Ghiordian knot that could never be undone and had to be cut received its name form this source.

Sand Paintings: Rare Navajo rugs that have themes of Mother Earth and Father Sky.

Sprit Trails:  Found in Navajo rugs, this line is created by the weaver to allow the good spirits to let the weaver weave another rug or blanket.  It also allows the weaver to weave a difficult design, and fill in the area if only one color is needed.

Scatter rug (throw rug):  Any small rug under 3 x 5.  Usually used as kitchen, bathroom, or front door rugs.

Skirt: an area at one or both ends of a rug which its seperate in design and color, and in time technique, from the field of the rug and its border.  Turkomen and Persian are well known for these skirts.

Scouring:  The washing of wool to remove unwanted lanolin and other impurities.

Selvedge:  The edge warps of a rug and the foundation weft around those warps.

Serging:  a method of finishing edges of area rugs by using heavy, colored yarn sewn around the edges in a close, overcast stitch.

Shearing:  The professional removal of a sheep’s wool.

Silk:  Comes from the cocoon of silkworms.  Because it is an expensive fiber it is less frequently used as a pile material in handmade rugs than wool.

Soumak:  A flat weave, pileless rug woven from a technique that produces a herringbone effect.  This special weaving technique is also known as weft wrapping. Soumaks generally have a mixed cotton and wool foundation with geometric and brightly colored design. This weaving method is also used to produce storage bags, cradles, and other every-day necessities.

Spin:  The direction of a yarn’s twist.

Staple:  The average length of fibers in a yarn.

Symmetrical knot:  A knot tied on two warps:  also known as the Ghiordes or Turkish knot.

Sejjadeh: an Arabic term denoting a rug suitable for prayer, approx. 100 X 155 cm in dimensions; often applied to any rug of that size but more commonly to one bearing in its design a depiction, however abbreviated, of the mihrab.

Selvedge: the edge of a rug on the long side ; its technical construction may vary widely from area to area and from period to period, thus forming and important technique identifying characteristic of a rug.

Shed stick: a part of a loom ; a wooden stick, or slat, used to separate alternate warps on a loom into upper and lower groups.

Saf: A prayer rug containing multiple prayer niches.

Safavid Dynasty: Persian Dynasty ruled by Shah Abbas from 1587 to 1628 AD.

Sarouk: Factory woven carpets woven in the vicinity of Sultanabad (Arak) in west central Iran.  Named for a small town north of Sultanabad.  Nearly all were exported to the United States.

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.

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

Strapwork: An interlacing design resembling straps.

Sumak: A type of flat-weave rug using a weft wrapping technique to form the face and pattern of the rug.

Shiraz Persian rugs: Prized Persian rugs that are rare in size and design.  This is due that Shiraz never became a heavy supplier/ weavers of rugs.


Tabriz: A city in North West Persia near the border of Turkey and the Caucasus where floral carpets of note are created. Numerous people of the city are of Turkish origin. Haji Jalili was a famous master weaver from this city and his carpets are highly desirable.

Talish: A tribal rug type/area from the South East Caucasus.

Talismans: An object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune.

Tea wash: Covering a carpet after it was woven with a heavy concentration of tea to “antique” it or cover bad colours. It is not permanent and over time will begin to unevenly fade. It is hard to correct this problem and a carpet may suffer a rosacia like effect over time as the tea is released in different quantities form the surface.

Tekke: An off-shoot of the Salor, the Tekke of West Turkestan in Central Asia became the largest group of the Turkmen and are famous for their extremely fine rugs.

Tinting: Also called painting. Worn areas of a rug are coloured using either inks or magic markers. Colour is rarely permanent and can come off over a long period of time.

Trappings: A term referring to the useful items created within textile societies. These societies created most useable equipment from textiles including bags for utilitarian purposes and equipment used with horses, camels and other livestock.

Tufted: All the work is executed by machine. The process is similar to Hand-Tufted except all the work is executed by machinery.

Turkestan: Refers to an area comprising 5 autonomous former Soviet republics east of the Caspian Sea and North of Afghanistan. The famous oasis towns of Buhhara and Samarkand are there. Numerous rug producing tribes, including the Tekke and Yomut Turkmen who are famed for their weaving prowess, settled there

Turkey: A famous rug producing country east of Greece. It is also referred to by its traditional name Anatolia, which means land of the rising sun.

Teec Nos Pos – Navajo Rugs and Navajo blankets.

Tabriz Persian Rugs – High Quality rugs from Northern Iran.  These rugs have small knots, and these Master weavers take tribal rugs design and give them a Master Weaver’s quality.   An example of this, is Heriz design rugs that are made in Tabriz with 500 knots per square inch.

Talim card:  A written description of the numbers of pile knots and their colors needed to create a specific design.  Used in the execution of a rug’s design.

Tea Stain:  See Antique Finish/Wash

Tibetan knot:  A distinctly different knot.  Tibetan rugs are woven by wrapping a continuous length of yarn over a rod laid across the warps stretched on the loom. When the rod has been wrapped for its entire length, a knife is slid along the rod, cutting the wrapped yarn into two rows of pile tufts.

Translation:  Rigid motion with repetition along a line.

Turkish knot:  See Symmetrical knot

Turn-arounds: Reversals in direction of the new wefts.

Two Grey Hills:  Navajo rug or Navajo Blanket.  Most are woven in grey, and natural tones.

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.


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.


Washing: The complete submersion of a rug in water in order to remove all dust as well as accumulated matter in the middle and on the surface of the rug.

Wear: A term used in the trade to designate how much of a pile surface has been used and worn down.

Wool (sheep): Used by humans for thousands of years to make not only carpets but clothing and shoes as well as many other types of objects. Wool is often dubbed the miracle fiber.

Worn: A term used to describe that a carpet has had significant use.

Warp:  Comprising the foundation, parallel warp yarns run the length of the rug, and are interlaced with wefts.

Warp-faced:  A rug in which warps are more closely spaced that wefts and wefts are concealed.  In a balanced plain weave rug, warps and wefts are equally visible.

Washing:  See Antique Finish/Wash

Weft:  The yarns woven horizontally through the warps.

Weft twining:  A weft wrapping method in which two wefts pass across warps, twisting together after each wrap or at regular intervals.

Whip stitch:  A stitch used to overcast and lock the final weft in rug ends.

Wool:  The soft wavy or curly undercoat of various hairy mammals, especially the sheep.

Woolen:  A wool yarn of mixed staple that has been carded.  Fibers are neither as long nor as parallel as worsted yarn.  The average length of woolen yarn is shorter than 3 inches.

Worsted:  A process that occurs prior to spinning, whereby wool yarns are firmly twisted from combed fibers that are longer than three inches in length. This process improves the wool’s quality by leaving only the longer pieces of fiber for final spinning.

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: Threads of yarn that extend through the entire length of the rug, on which the weaver ties the knots.  The lengthwise or vertical threads.

Weft: Threads of yarn that run across the width of the rug.  The widthwise or horizontal threads in a rug, passed over and under the warps to form the foundation of a pile rug or the design of a flat woven rug.

Woman Weavers Blankets: Navajo blankets that woman weavers would make to show off their talents.  Due to the Navajo blanket being draped over their shoulders, most of these blankets are worn exactly where the shoulders are.


Youmut or Yomud: One of the main Turkmen tribes from Central Asia, West Turkestan and North East Persia who weave rugs often with a deep aubergine background colour.

Yastik: A term employed in Turkey for small rugs woven approx. twice as long as wide, intended for the faces of cushions but used for many others purposes as well.

Yei: navajo rugs , can be found with hunting, warrior, and farming themes.

Yarn:  A continuous, often plied strand composed of either natural or man-made fibers or filaments.  Used in weaving and knitting to from cloth.

Yuruk: The Turkish term used to describe any nomad living in Turkey.


Zebra skins: hides from the animal zebra.

Zaronim: A rug measuring about 3′ x 5′.  A zar is about one square meter so a zaronim is a square meter and a half.


To learn more about different types of area and oriental rugs, browse through Rugknots’ blog.

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