brief glossary was assembled to the best of my knowledge by my roomate,
who worked in the rug business. If anyone knows of anyone else who should
get credit, please let me know
The word used to describe the variations in color found within a single
color in an Oriental carpet. Abrash is commonly seen in tribal nomadic
rugs and in reproductions of them. Mild Abrash is caused by variations
in yarn diameter native to nomadic dyeing and yarn spinning. Heavy Abrash
is caused by the change over to a new dye batch. Generally Abrash is
desirable in tribal carpets and undesirable in urban carpets.
Named for the Afshar, it describes the presence of silk pile in an urban
A Turkic speaking nomadic group living mostly in southern Iran known
for fine quality of their rugs.
A chemical bath that tones down colors to simulate aging.
Home of the 14th century tombs of Sheik Safi ad-Din and Shah Ismail.
The city that shares the name of The Ardebil Carpet one of the finest
and most famous objects of Islamic art. There is controversy, though,
as to whether the carpet was actually made there. Modern era carpets
from the region are generally of dubious quality.
Also called artificial silk it describes a yarn for weaving made from
mercerized cotton that attempts to take on the appearance of silk. The
fiber is very soft to the touch and is used to create a price category
for smaller budgets whose tastes run toward expensive silk rugs. Rugs
sold as silk as given a burn test to check for the presence of cotton.
Fine flat carpets woven in France from the 15th to 19th Centuries. They
were derived from Moorish weaving with the assistance of Architects
and Artists of the royal court.
A complex machine made rug woven to a flexible cotton frame that can
contain up to 70 colors of wool. Its invention in 1882 in the midst
of the industrial revolution practically destroyed the handknotted rug
industry. It was thought that mechanized items were all going to be
of superior quality, a theory later shelved.
A nomadic group of southern Persia. This tribes weaving is popular among
collectors and the rugs themselves tend to be of unusually durable construction
lasting as long as 200 years in heavy wear environments. The most popular
design feature a square grid with a floral vase in each.
A nomadic tribe living in Afghanistan and bordering countries who produce
a large volume of commercial weaving. Their rugs are generally brown,
black, and gold.
The rug design named for the Bidjar region of Iranian Azerbaijan. Originally
the design was Kurdish featuring hundreds of trees and was really responsible
for earning the region its fine reputation. Commercial Bidjar are factory
woven and feature a distinctive diamond shape medallion. Commercial
Bidjar are thought to be the most durable carpets in history as most
will last 300 years. This has earned the Bidjar the colorful moniker
The Iron Rug of Persia . Both types of Bidjar are still made in limited
The capitol of Usbekistan and the traditional trading center for Turkmen
tribal carpets. Today, rugs called Bukhara are generally commercial
copies knotted in Pakistan and India. Actual Turkmen carpets are called
by their tribal names to ease confusion with their popular reproductions.
Commercial Bukhara carpets are available in about twenty quality gradations,
though surface appearance may be similar. Commercial Bukhara carpets
are the best selling hand-knotted rugs in the world.
A small tuft of fibers from a rug may be burned to test for its content.
For example cotton has a vegetable smell when burned. Wool smells faintly
like hair. Silk smells distinctly like human hair when burned.
A technique used for the duplicate manufacture of the finest urban rugs.
The colors of the pre-dyed yarn are chanted rhythmically to assure that
rugs are more perfect than rugs made with other techniques. Most fine
carpets from Tabriz and Isfahan are made this way.
The often derided name for Caucasian type rugs made in Chechnia and
The fine whiskers from the chin of sheep that are sometimes set aside
a special ceremonial carpet. Chin wool carpets are considered finer
than silk ones but are very rare. Turkmen tribes most notably use this
fiber for their finest carpets.
A low grade kilim from India. They are generally a product of the Indian
prison system. It is also a term used to insult the quality of Kilim
from other places.
A large mostly settled tribe of northwest Afghanistan who make both
urban and tribal rugs. They are renowned for the quality of their nomadic
saddles and tent gear.
A catchall term that describes any rug without pile including Soumaks,
Kilim, Verneh, Sozani, and Dhurie. Aubuson carpets are also flat but
are excluded due to their extreme complexity.
A fluffy long piled rug used by nomads as a mattress. They have only
been sold commercially in the West since 1990. Gabeh usually have a
simple colorful design often with a pastoral scene. The Gabehs charm
has only been appreciated recently and they now are being produced commercially
see kilim )
Persian word for flower, it describes the common ornaments found in
Turkmen carpets. Guls are the design element often mistaken for elephants
Turkish city famous for its factories where the most elaborate silk
rugs in the world are made. Though Hereke is in Turkey they use the
Persian Senneh knot in rugs made there.
A large city now located near the border between Iran and Azerbaijan.
The geometric medallion rugs woven there in the early 20th century were
extremely popular in Europe and the U.S.A. Commercial carpets bearing
the Heriz design are woven in every rug producing county in the world.
The Heriz design is the most popular Persian design in the west.
An element of the larger nomadic Qashqai tribe of southern Iran famous
for the quality of their rugs.
The name for the fancy village carpets made of silk or mercerized cotton
in the Islamic region of India. Kashmir are woven with a Persian knot
and mimic the designs of newer urban carpets from Iran with an emphasis
for Indian tastes for brilliant color. Coloration used in these rugs
is unique to India.
The people of Kazakhstan and the Turkish style rugs of that region.
Any pileless carpet in which the pattern is formed by the colored weft
strings being wrapped around the warp. In Farsi the word is Gileem.
The word is also used to describe the pileless side of nomadic bags
There are two basic types of knots used in oriental rugs: Persian Senneh
A fine asymmetrical knot used in fine urban and complex tribal carpets.
Observers will notice that these rugs have a light and a dark side.
Turkish Ghiordes The symmetrical knot used in most tribal carpets it
makes for a higher pile heavy wearing style of rug. Chinese carved carpets
also feature this knot.
A tribal people who live in eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, and the Kordistan
region or Iran. They produce what are commonly thought to be the finest
tribal style rugs in the world. Kurdish rugs are a passion among rug
collectors and connoisseurs and bring the highest prices at market.
Formerly nomadic people of south western Iran. They are renowned for
the quality of their rugs and kilim.
Traditional word that means of the Eastern World or of the land found
by ship when Africa has been circled , it has come to more accurately
describe characteristics of Turkey, Iran, India, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan,
Turkmenistan, and Pakistan. The modern definition excludes characteristics
of China and Indochina now classified as Asian.
A powerful Turkish dynasty that ruled most of extended Persia from 1290
to 1924. It was named for its founder Osman.
Name of a former politically confederation of southern Iranian nomadic
tribes mainly: Shesh Boluki, Kashkuli Bozorg, Amaleh, Derrehshuri, Farsi
Madan, and Kashkuli Kuchek. The regional trading center for these tribes
is Shiraz. Most Gabeh carpets sold in the west are of Qashqai origin.
A Turkmen tribe famous for the quality of its rugs that has been virtually
wiped out by military conquests. Modern era rugs from this group are
rare and highly prized among collectors.
A Turkmen tribal people known for the quality of their older rugs. Newer
units are of dubious construction and design.
The name given to French piled carpets made until 1890 that look similar
to Persian Kermans. These rugs were more foot friendly than their cousin
the Aubuson and had an impressionist quality many find very appealing.
A Persian dynasty remembered for Shahs Tasmasp and Abbas who were great
patrons of the arts and ambassadors for Persian rug weaving to the rest
of the world. They are credited for the enduring international popularity
of Iranian style carpets.
The factory woven carpets woven in the vicinity of Serouk in Iranian
Azerbaijan are some of the most beautiful ever made. Most were manufactured
with intent to export to the United States. They were frequently found
in the lobbies of fine hotels and in American living rooms in the post
WWII era. Serouk rugs often remind people of their grandparents or a
relative visited during the holidays.
Design element that features swirling feathers and Lotuses named for
the Shah who commissioned its design. Its found in most modern urban
Persian style rugs.
The once powerful confederation of Turkic speaking tribes living in
Azerbaijan. They are decimated by military losses and now mostly make
A heavy flat woven rug made with a weft wrapping technique. This technique
is also used in commercial rugs that are designed to look like antiques.
Most traditional Soumak are made in the Caucasus region.
In Farsi Sozani translates as Laundry Bag . They are heavy flat woven
carpets similar to soumak with an additional embroidered design on the
surface. They have been the rage in recent years with the increased
popularity of tribal carpets. Sozani are the most exotic type of flat
woven tribal carpets and are even being made in silk.
A special notation used to record and reproduce the designs of Kashmir
The largest Turkmen tribe in the 19th century thought to make the finest
rugs made in the Turkmen style. The Tekke carpets are among those most
highly prized by collectors.
A mechanically assisted technique for manufacturing rugs in which tufts
of wool are punched through base fabric to color in a silk screen design
painted on the base. The back of the base is then painted with thick
Latex glue and covered with a sacking material. Mostly this method is
used in China to produce inexpensive versions of their handknotted rugs.
A Shahsavan type of soumak rug featuring interlocking birds.
A rug made by a variety of people working on the clock on a loom located
in the center of a village. Usually some form of day care is provided.
Most large size tribal carpets are made this way.
The English design firm named for its founder that specialized in adopting
middle eastern designs to western tastes. Most of their beautiful designs
were used in institutional settings like Grand Hotels and Government
Buildings. They actually made Persian style carpets in London from 1890
to 1914 with labor imported from Pakistan.
A machine loomed carpet with a limited color palette. Most today are
made of synthetic fiber and have dubious durability. Well made wool
wiltons can last as long as 15 years of more. Most Wiltons are made
in time sharing factories that manufacture wiltons for many companies
at the same time. Modern Wiltons are the first type of rug to be computerized
The Turkish word for nomad. It is used to describe any nomad living