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Glossary

Abrash

A change of tone color in the field or border caused by differences in wool or dye batches. Frequently it occurs when the weaver runs out of one batch of yarn and continues with a second. Another reason for this is when one dye fades at a different rate than another.

 

All-Over Design

A pattern that is repeated throughout the field. No central medallion is present. Floral all-over designs or Herati designs are good examples.

 

Arabesque

A popular design in oriental rugs and carpets consisting of intertwining vines, leaves, flowers, buds or branches. Arabesques can be either floral or geometric in nature and are used both in the field and border.

 

Border

The patterned bands and colored bands framing the field. There are generally three or more bands, the widest being referred to as the main stripe.

 

Boteh

A leaf-like motif with a curved tip. Frequently found to decorate the whole field as a repetitive pattern. "Bush" in Persian.

 

Bleeding

Occurs when dyed yarn has not been washed properly after the dyeing process, causing it to "bleed" or run into the surrounding areas. It can also happen to chemical dyes, which are not stable or colorfast. The most common color affected is red.

 

Broken Border Design

When the border designs cross over the line and enter the field (or vice versa). It looks as though the motif is not confined to its intended position on the rug or carpet. Frequently seen in Persian Kermans and other weavings with French influences.

 

Cartoon

The design for a carpet or rug, often copied onto graph paper to make it easier to follow. The weaver follows the design on the cartoon.

 

Chrome Dye

A group of modern synthetic dyes that are composed of potassium dichromate. These dyes are colorfast.

 

Colorfast

When a dye is stable to both light and washing.

 

Dye

A substance used to color fibre, yarn or textiles.

 

Field

The area of a rug or carpet enclosed by a border. It usually has a design, but not always.

 

Gabbeh

Term used to denote a thick and long piled rug or carpet, usually woven in the Fars region of Iran. It means “unclipped” in Persian.

 

Gul

A lobed or stepped polygon with geometrical ornamentation that is characteristic of Turkoman weave. In some cases, it has totemic significance for the particular tribe from which it originated.

 

Herati

A repeating pattern consisting of a rosette bearing palmettes at its four corners.

 

Kilim

A rug or carpet with no pile. Design is created by the different colors of the weft strands as they are woven through the warp strands.

 

Knot

The wrapping around the warps of the yarn (wool) threads, the ends of which project to form the pile of the rug or carpet. There are two basic types of knots used in the Persian carpets: the symmetrical (Ghiordes) or Turkish knot and the asymmetrical (Senneh) or Persian knot.

 

Knot Count

The number of knots per unit of measure, multiplying the number transversely by the number longitudinally per inch (for example). This can sometimes become complicated when the warps become depressed in finely woven rugs and not all the knots can be seen.

 

Loom

The basic frame used for weaving. Two horizontal beams are used to tie the vertical warps and hold them tightly in place. Looms can be either horizontal or vertical. Horizontal looms are small, used for nomadic weavings and normally used horizontally on the ground. These are easily folded for transportation during migration. Vertical looms are used for weavings of larger rugs and carpets in city and town workshops and are stationary. Several people can sit side-by-side weaving simultaneously.

 

Mahee

Persian for "fish". The term refers to the overall repeating pattern of a "fish-eye" design.

 

Medallion

A main field design located in the center of the rug. Shapes can be of diamonds, hexagons, circles, stars, octagons or ovals. A rug may have more than one medallion.

 

Natural Dye

Dyes derived from vegetal or animal sources to color yarn or textiles.

Common colors are:

  • Blue from Indigo
  • Red from the Madder plant and from Cochineal insects
  • Brown or black from oak bark, acorn husks, tea and walnut husks
  • Yellow from artemisia, centaury, daphne, onionskin, pomegranate, turmeric
  • Green from Indigo mixed with any of the yellow dyes

 

Overcasting

A method of finishing the edges of a fabric parallel to the warp in which several warps are wrapped in a circular manner with yarn, which is separate from the rest of the rug.

 

Palmettes

A stylized fan-like motif resembling the cross section of a lotus flower. It appears in both field and border designs.

 

Pendant

A small flower or cluster of flowers at the top and bottom of a medallion.

 

Persian Knot

One of the two major knot types used in oriental rugs and carpets, the symmetrical knot being the other. Both knots usually wrap around two strands of warp. The Persian knot (Senneh) can be either looped over a warp on the left and opened up to the right, or it can be looped over a right warp and opened up to the left.

 

Pictorial Rug

A rug or carpet that depicts representations of people, places or any other images other than conventional design motifs.

 

Pile

The raised surface of a rug  formed by the weaving of yarn, which projects from the foundation.

 

Ply

The twisting of two or more strands of yarn together. They are usually plied in the opposite direction in which they were spun.

 

Prayer Rug

A directional rug with a representation of a Mihrab (prayer niche in the wall of a mosque). In Islam, the rug should be placed towards Mecca, and the faithful will kneel in the Mihrab and pray.

 

Runner

A long, narrow rug, which usually has a width of up to three and a half feet.

 

Selvedge

The vertical edge of a rug and carpet where two or more chords of warp are usually wrapped with separate wefts to reinforce the sides. It is in the selvage where the wefts reverse direction.

 

Symmetrical Knot

One of the two major knot types used in Oriental rugs and carpets, the asymmetrical knot being the other. Both knots usually wrap around two strands of warps. The symmetrical knot (Turkish knot) wraps around both warps and opens up between the two.

 

Synthetic Dye

Dyes derived from chemical processes rather than from natural resources. Synthetic dye production began in the 1850s and by the 1870s, these dyes began replacing natural ones in the main rug weaving areas. They were cheap and fast to produce and therefore were much more affordable to weavers. By the early part of the 20th century, chrome dyes were introduced. These are modern synthetic dyes used with potassium dichromate. They are usually stable and colorfast.

 

Tree of Life Design

A design in Oriental rugs or carpets depicting a tree with limbs pointing upwards. This motif can be depicted in many different variations: naturalistic, geometric or abstract.

 

Warp

Vertical foundation strands running the length of the carpet. Before weaving can begin, warps need to be correctly positioned on the loom. The warp is generally made from cotton, wool or silk.

 

Weft

The horizontal foundation strands, which are passed over and under the warps at right angles. Besides helping to lock the knots into place, wefts together with warps make up the foundation of a rug.