The Magic Carpet - Fine Oriental Rugs

Oriental Rugs » Oriental Rug Glossary



Variations of color tone, usually seen as horizontal delineations in the pile, due to subtle differences in dye strength and composition in different batches of wool.


Large stylized bird, possibly derived from Persian peacock, originating in the Shirvan district of the Caucasus and found in many variations and Sizes over a wide region.


The entire area of Turkey to the east of the Bosphorus.

Aniline Dye

A basic direct dye made from coaltar derivatives, first used in carpets around 1860 and prevalent in the Middle East by 1880. Pink, violet, blue, and green were among the first colors in widespread use. The dyes are fugitive and fade to unattractive shades. They were banned by the Persian government from 1903, although they continued to be used with deleterious results in other countries.


Repetitive interlaced and intricate pattern derived from Arab designs based on stem and plant motifs.

Ardebil Carpet

Famous Persian carpet made in the 1530s for the Great Mosque of Ardebil in northern Persia, now exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.


A Turkoman five-sided camel flank trapping used to decorate the bride's camel during a wedding.

Asymmetrical Knot

Also known as the Persian or Senneh knot. The yarn only encircles one warp of the pair and is described as being open to the left or the right.

Barbers' Pole

Border pattern of multi-colored diagonal stripes.


A design motif, leaf-shaped with a crest or curving top, or shaped rather like a pine-cone or pear. Developed in the seventeenth century out of Persian and Indian flowering plant motifs; later used in a more angular form in Persian, Caucasian, and sometimes Turkish carpets. Recognizable in its most fluid form as the Paisley pattern.


Oval, occasionally rectangular, decorative shape enclosing a design motif.

Chemical Dye ~ See Synthetic dye

Chemical Wash

A trade technique of washing rugs in chemical compounds which gives newly-made rugs a lustrous silky finish similar to a genuine patina acquired only with age and wear. The process also causes rugs to shrink a little, therefore making them denser and firmer, often disguising loose knotting.

Chrome Dye

Improved azo dyes, fast and mordanted, introduced in this century. The uniform dyeing of the wool may result in a dead appearance compared with natural dyes.

Chuval ~ See Juval

Cloud Band

One of many variations of Chinese origin based on the shape of clouds. In some versions it resembles a ram's horn.


Red dye obtained from the crushed and pulverized bodies of insects (Coccus cacti).

Compartment Design

Term mainly used of Anatolian kilims where the panels of design are framed in individual compartments, often with borders of their own.

Crow's Foot

Arrow pattern like the imprint of a bird's foot.

Density ~ See Knot Count

Term used for floss silk in western India.

Depressed Warp

Technique of weaving when alternate warps or groups of warps lie on different levels, increasing the thickness and giving the back a ribbed texture.

Elephant's Foot

Uninformed trade description of Turkoman gul pattern.


A knotted pile rug woven by the Turkoman to cover the entrance to the itent. The cross shape on the four panel design of the field is known as a hatchli. Ertman Gul Large gul of the Chador Turkoman tribe.


The main part of a carpet contained within the borders.

Foundation ~ See Groundweave


Persian for 'fringe'. Also means unclipped or shaggy-piled carpets in Persian.


Persian for kilim (q.v.). See Kilim.

Ghiordes Knot ~ See Symmetrical Knot

Guard Stripe

A narrow stripe between borders, or between border and field.


An angular, usually octagonal, motif found primarily in Turkoman carpets. The different designs of these motifs can often be related to specific tribes and they appear to be heraldic emblems.


Turkish for carpet. See Khali.

Hatchli ~ See Engsi


Named after the town of Herat, now in Afghanistan, where the design is supposed to have originated. The Herati pattern consists of a lozenge of stems terminating in flower heads surrounding a central rosette, with four lanceolate leaves curving symmetrically between the flower heads. Found in many variations - angular, geometric, naturalistic, and formalized in carpets from almost every area.


Name given to fifteenth-century Turkish rugs with geometric designs which appear in paintings by Hans Holbein (1497/81543). 'Small-pattern Holbein' carpets have rows of lozenges and octagons, while 'large-pattern Holbeins' frequently have large octagons within squares. Holbein pattern rugs mainly have kufesque borders (q.v.) and also appear in paintings by Bellini, Ghirlandaio, Crivelli, and Pintoricchio.


A blue vat dye obtained from the crushed leaves of the indigo plant. Made synthetically from about 1890. Natural indigo was prepared in India and exported to Persia and other countries.

Indo- Isfahan

Also IndoPersian or Herat. Sixteenth century carpets with an in-and-out palmette design (q. v.) made in both India and Persia.

Islamic Calendar ~ See Hejira


Also chufti, djufti. 'False knot' tied over four or more warps. Used in parts of Persia, Spain, and more recently in Pakistan.


A large Turkoman tent bag.


One of two main groups of Caucasian carpets, distinguished by the fact that they have a fringe at one end only, the top end being finished by turning over and stitching down to the back.


An insect which breeds on the kermes oak, the female producing a red dye similar to lac and cochineal (q.v.).


A pileless carpet woven in the slit-tapestry technique.

Knot Count

The number of knots per square decimeter or inch, which determines the density or gauge of a carpet. As a rough guide the following table may be useful:
Very coarse: up to 500 per dm2 (33 per square inch)
Coarse: 500-1000 per dm2 (33-66 per square inch)
Medium: 900-1800 per dm2 (60-120 per square inch)
Fine: 1800-2500 per dm2 (120-166 per square inch)
Very fine: 2500-4500 per dm2 (166-300 per square inch)
Fine silk carpets have a knot count of 15,000 or more per dm2 (1000 per square inch).


One of two main groups of Caucasian carpets, distinguished by having cut fringes at both ends of the carpet.


These tribes are both settled and nomadic. They live in northern and western Anatolia on the borders of Iran and Turkey, and in Kurdistan in northwest Iran. Their weavings are usually of sombre co 1ouring and limited palette, and some nomad work which is not attributable with any greater accuracy is often described as Kurdish.


A deep crimson-red dye obtained from the extract of the female Taehardia laeea, an insect indigenous to India.

Lotto Carpets

Lorenzo Lotto (c.1480-c.1556) twice included distinctively patterned carpets from Anatolia, possibly from the region of Ushak, in his paintings. These have a design of a yellow lattice on a red ground, contained within either a kufesque or a cartouche border (q.v.).


Dye made from the roots of the madder plant (Rubia tinctorium) which is native throughout the Middle East. The colors include reds, oranges, pinks, browns, and purples.


A small Turkoman tent bag.


The prayer niche of a mosque, orientated towards the holy city of Mecca. Often represented on prayer rugs.

Mina Khani

A repeating pattern of large flower heads each with small white flowers set in a diamond round it and joined in a lattice pattern.


Metal hydroxides used with mordant dyes to fix the dye in the yarn. Iron mordants can corrode the wool.

Mordant Dye

Dye, made from acidic compounds, that has to be fixed to the yarn with a mordant.


A floral form which probably takes its name from the palm frond which it resembled in Assyrian times. It may resemble a sliced artichoke, a vine leaf, or a stiffly drawn lotus blossom.


Rug Believed to have been made in the fourth or fifth century Be, this famous rug with animal and warrior motifs was found in 1947 in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia in a Scythian gravemound. It is exhibited in the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad.

Persian Knot ~ See Asymmetrical knot

Plain Weave

A simple weave pattern in which the weft passes alternatively over and under each warp. Often used to finish the ends of carpets.

Running Dog

Hooked border motif common in Caucasian carpets and rugs and some Anatolian pile rugs and flat weaves.


A prayer rug, wider than long, with a horizontal row of prayer niches, flat or pile woven. Also known as a saph.


The finished side edges of a rug or carpet. Senneh Knot See Asymmetrical knot.


A flat-weave technique employing a floating weft and giving a thick matted back.


Two or more strands of wool plied together in a clockwise direction.


Two or more strands of wool plied together in a clockwise direction.


Yarn spun in a clockwise direction. See also Z-plied and Z-spun.


Large embroidered hangings or curtaIlls from East Turkestan and Central Asia.

Two or more strands of wool plied together in a clockwise direction.

Symmetrical Knot

Also known as the Turkish or Ghiordes knot. The cut ends of the warp emerge in the middle of the two warps around which it has been tied.

Synthetic Dye ~ See Aniline, Chrome, and Azo

Tauk Nosha Gul

A Turkoman gul (q.v.), with eight little stylized animals, used by the Y omut, Arabatchi, Kizil Ayak, Chodor, and Ersari.

Temirchen Gul

A Turkoman gul (q.v.), used by the Saryk and the Ersari, which Illcorporates a motif of overlapping arrow heads.


A shallow Turkoman wall bag, to be suspended from the trellis of the tent.

Turkish Knot ~ See Symmetrical Knot


Refers to nomadic Turkic peoples from any part of west and central Asia. Also known as Turkoman.


A Caucasian term usually used for a flat woven rug made of narrow strips sewn together and brocaded.


The vertical threads of a carpet. The warp is strung on the empty loom and provides the framework for weaving.


The horizontal continuous thread woven into the warp. One or more shoots of weft thread usually separates the rows of knots which are tied to the warp.


A yellow dye extracted from the Reselda lutuola plant.


Turkish for small rugs or the faces of cushion and bolster covers.


A Turkish word meaning pastoral nomad.


Two or more strands of yarn plied together in an anti-clockwise direction.


Yarn spun in an anti-clockwise direction. See also S-plied and S-spun.