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ORIENTAL RUG GLOSSARY

Here is a list of some important Oriental Rug terms in alphabetical order:

Abrash

Abrash is the tonal variations in the fibers used to weave oriental rugs. This is usually the result of the use of wool that has been dyed in different batches. Collectors consider this a desirable characteristic and many large manufacturers of rugs and carpets, including machine made, deliberately insert this feature in their products.

Border

The borders are the bands of varying widths around the perimeter of the rug. They can number more than ten in some rugs.

Carpet

Hand woven or machine woven pieces that are usually 9’x6’ or larger.  At ABC, the term ‘carpet’ refers to a machine made woven piece that is tacked down as in a wall-to-wall carpet.

City Rugs

Usually intricately designed and woven rugs made in commercial establishments by skilled craftspeople. All stages of rug-making, including spinning, dyeing, designing, etc. take place here.

Donkeybags

Utilitarian rugs meant for carrying goods and very popular with collectors.

Edges

Usually the longer sides of a rug which may be serged or overcast to create a durable finish.

Ends

Usually the shorter sides of a rug, typically consisting of a flat-woven area that may be anywhere from 1 inch to 1 foot deep. The fringes or exposed ends of the warp extend past the pile out the ends.

Field

The large area in the center of a rug that may be a solid color but typically contains the main pattern and designs.

Fringes

These are the exposed end of the warp extending out from the ends. It may be braided or knotted, often in unusual ways.

Juvals

These are rectangular bags of varying sizes used for goods or personal items. Similar weavings are called torba or mafrash.

Knots

The most common types of knots (which are known as the pile and create the pattern in oriental rugs) are the Symmetrical and the Asymmetrical knots.

The Symmetrical knot, also known as the Turkish or Ghiordes knot, is tied to open to the center. This knot is often found in thicker rugs because it provides a stronger consistency.

The 2 ends of the Asymmetrical knot (also called the Persian or Senneh knot can be tied to open on either side. This knot makes possible the weaving of rugs with more details and with a higher density of knots.

Jufti and Tibetan knots are 2 less common types of knots used in Oriental rugs.

Knot Density

This refers to the number of knots per unit of area. Knots are counted vertically and horizontally within the given area on the back of the rug. Knot density is not necessarily a factor that reflects quality.

Mordants

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

Natural Dyes

Dyes extracted from natural substances derived from flora and fauna.

Occidental Rugs

Rugs woven in the West.

Oriental Rugs

A handmade piece that is either hand-knotted and hand-tied with pile or woven without pile in the East.

Palace Rugs

Very large oriental rugs, very complex in design, and very fine in quality. These are quite rare.

Patterns

Elements used to create designs on the field and borders of a rug.

Pile

This is formed by the knots and creates the pattern. The primary knots in rugs are Symmetric and Asymmetric.

Prayer Rugs

Typically 2’to 4’ wide and 4’to 8’ long and very prized by collectors. Usually have a design element called a Mihrab at one end of the field.          

Rug

Term used to describe a rug usually smaller than 9’x6,’ although at ABC, the term refers to any loose-lay rug.

Runners

Rugs usually measuring 3’to 4’ wide and approximately 8’to 20’ in length.

Skirt   

An additional wide border found on one part of rugs such as Juvals and Donkeybags.

Stripping

Refers to a chemical wash applied to rugs to alter their colors. This is considered a negative attribute to most serious collectors of oriental rugs.

Tribal or Nomadic Rugs

Rugs woven by nomadic people living essentially in portable homes. These usually have a limited number of colors and patterns with wool and occasionally horse or camel hair being used for edge and end finishing, even silk in small areas.

Village Rugs

Rugs woven by people living in agricultural communities who typically have more materials, as well as permanent looms available to them.

Warps

The foundation thread that is first wrapped around the loom before weaving and is usually exposed as the fringe.

Warp Depression

This is the manipulation of the wefts to make the warps lie parallel to one another or on different levels.

Wefts

The thread or yarn inserted across the width of the loom, perpendicular to the warp and pounded in after each row of knots to hold them in place.


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ABC Oriental Rug & Carpet Cleaning Co.
130 Cecil Malone Drive Ithaca, NY 14850

607-272-1566

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Suggested Reading Materials

Listed below are some books for additional material on Oriental Rugs:

(Many of these books can be found in our library and you are welcome to view them there).

A Comprehensive Guide to Oriental & Specialty Rug Cleaning-Ellen Amirkhan & Aaron Groseclose

Antique Kilims of Anatolia-Peter Davies.

Antique Oriental Rugs and Carpets-Philip Bamborough.

One Woman One Weft-Rugs from the Villages of Hamadan-Tad Runge.

Oriental Carpets And Their Structure-Jennifer Wearden.

Oriental Rug Primer-Aram K. Jerrehian, Jr.

Oriental Rugs-A Complete Guide-Charles Jacobson.

Oriental Rugs-The Collectors Guide to Selecting, Identifying, and Enjoying New and Vintage Oriental Rugs-George O'Bannon.

Oriental Rugs-An Illustrated Lexicoin of Motifs, Materials, and Origins-Peter F. Stone.

Oriental Rugs-The Illustrated World Buyers' Guide-Janice Summers.

The Oriental Rug Lexicon-Peter F. Stone.