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Abrash: Variation and striation of colors throughout the rug. Abrash refers to the hue or color change found on many older rugs, mostly those woven by nomadic tribes. Abrash also is indication of traditional materials and dyeing practices.

Allover Design: Continuous design throughout rug without a center medallion.

Antique Finish: A modern washing procedure that tones or antiques the rug.

Antique Wash: A chemical or natural process that tones down colors and to simulate aging on new rugs or produce softer tones in vintage and antique rugs.

Arabesque: An ornate curving design of intertwined floral and vine figures often seen in intricate workshop rugs


Border: A design that surrounds the field in an Oriental rug. 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.


Cartouche: An oval shaped ornamental design element. The cartouche may be solid colored, or it may contain an inscription, a date, or another design.

Curvilinear: Consisting of or bounded by curved lines. Forming or moving in a curved line.


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

Flat weave: Flat weave is a technique of weaving that no knots are used to weave a Textile. The warp strands are used as the foundation and the weft stands are used as both part of the foundation and in creating the patterns. The weft strands are simply passed (woven) through the warp strands. Flat weave used for Kilims, soumak, Dhurrie and Jajim. Basically it's a textile without a pile. Foundation: The warp and weft is the basis/foundation of a rug.

Fringe: The continuation of the warp threads at each end of the carpet. Sometimes knotted or plaited. Their basic role is to hold the rug together and keep the wefts from unraveling. 



Kilim: A flat rug with no pile.

Knot: A knot is formed when wool, cotton or silk yarn is looped around the warp threads. There are different procedures for knotting and each knot type has a name, for example there is a Turkish/Ghiordes knot & a Persian/Sennah knot.

Knots per square inch: Number of knots per square inch rates the knot quality.

Kork Wool: The very finest quality wool obtained from the shoulder and flanks from shearing lambs.


Line: A unit for measuring the quality of a rug, based on the number or pairs of warp threads in a given area of the carpet, usually one linear foot. The term "line" is also used to describe a border stripe that consists of a single row of knots.

Loom: The frame on which warps are attached and kept rigid during the weaving of a rug.

Lozenge: A diamond shaped parallelogram or rhombus.

Luster: The sheen that is given to the surface of a carpet as a result of chemical washing.


Madder: A powder extracted from the root of a Rubia plant used to make red dye.

Medallion: Large design or series of large designs found in the center in some oriental rugs.

Mehrab: Representation of the place in a mosque, where the prayer leader stands. Ornamented with pillars, chandeliers & floral Persian rug patterns.

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


Nap: Face of the rug where the knot ends are cut, normally made of wool or silk.

Natural Dyes: See vegetable dyes.


Open field:A solid-colored ground, with or without a simple medallion and corner designs. An open field is the opposite of a covered field.


Oxidizes: With excess sunlight exposure rug colors can change to a brown or black color.


Painted rug: A rug which has been dyed on the surface after the weaving has been completed. This process, often found in rugs from Arak (Sarouk, Lilihan), was intended to intensify certain colors which could not be produced in deep enough shades in the original pile yarns. The practice of painting rugs is much less common today than it once was.

Palmette: A design element composed of a cross section of large, leafy, fan-shaped flowers. Usually multicolored.

Patina: The surface appearance of a rug usually mellows with age or use.

Persian knot: A knotting technique in which one end of the yarn in drawn up between two adjacent warp threads and the other end is drawn up on the outside of the pair. Also called a symmetrical knot, or a Senneh knot.

Pile: The surface of a carpet, formed by the cut ends of the knots that are tied onto foundation.

Pomegranate Plant: The mythology of ancient Greece regarded this fruit as the symbol of life and rebirth in the abduction story of Persephone by Hades, the god of the underworld. The pomegranate fruit is assumed to have originated in Iran and Afghanistan. The fruit was used as a holy symbol and respected in Zoroastrian worshipping ceremonies and rituals. The pomegranate symbolized the soul's immortality and the perfection of nature for Zoroastrians. Then it became a port of the Iranian mythology which tells that Esfandiyar became an invincible hero after he ate the pomegranate. The pomegranate plant is ageless throughout the year, enabling the human mind to attribute to it the immortality of the soul. In time, the many seeds in a single fruit have come to stand for prosperity. The fresh or dried skin of the fruit is also used for dyeing and if used with an alum mordant, a yellow-brownish shade will result. If an iron mordant is used, a brownish-black shade will result. In Oriental carpets and Kilims, the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility and abundance because of its many seeds.

Prayer rug: A small rug featuring a prayer niche (mihrab) in the field design. Inspired by the architectural forms found in a mosque.



Ram's Horn: The ram's horn represents manhood, male fertility, strength and bravery. A weaver incorporating such a symbol into her carpet would wish for all these qualities in her future husband. Re-fringe: Repair fringe of rug using the selvage or part of the rug.

Rectilinear: Moving in, consisting of, bounded by, or characterized by a straight line or lines: following a rectilinear path; rectilinear patterns in Oriental rugs.

Repeated pattern: Reference Allover Design.

Rosette: A design element composed of the symmetrical head-on view of a flower. Usually round, with radiating petals. Rosette is a circular arrangement of motif of motifs radiating out from the center and suggesting the petals of a rose. Found on the field, major or minor borders of carpets in manifold naturalistic and geometric forms.

Runner: A very narrow rug. The length greatly exceeds the width. The ratio of the length vs. width is usually 5 to 1 or 3 to 1 however there are long runner as long as 18 to 1.


Saffron: The Greeks and Romans made a royal dye color with saffron and wealthy Romans perfumed their baths and homes with it. In the 14th-18th centuries, saffron was used as a medicine and spice in Europe. Dyeing is the oldest use of saffron. The yellow stigmata impart a deep yellow to fabrics. About 4000 blooms are required to produce one ounce of dye, so saffron has always been associated with wealth.

Selvedge: The area between the edge of a rug and the fringe. The side edges of a rug that are formed by the continuous weft threads. The selvedges are sometimes wrapped in a separate process after the weaving is finished, either by overcasting or buttonholing. The selvedge is the same material used to form the warp and weft. Side Note: the top and bottom edges of the rug form the fringe.

Soumak: A flat-woven or rug without pile where the pattern-forming yarns pass over either two or four warps and return under one or two warps, in contrast to the Kilim technique, which uses a basket weave method. This technique produces a herringbone effect and is also known as weft wrapping. Looks similar to embroidery work.

Symmetrical knot: See Turkish knot.

Symmetry: A fundamental organizing principle in nature and in culture. The analysis of symmetry allows for understanding the organization of a pattern, and provides a means for determining both invariance and change.


Tannin: A brown pigment found in leaves and other parts of plants. It causes the brown color of leaves after all other colors have disappeared. It is present throughout the growing season but is masked by the chlorophylls (greens), xanthophylls and carotenes (yellows and oranges), and anthocyanin (reds and purples). Tannin solutions are acid and have an astringent taste. Oak bark was an important source of Tannin.

Tree of life: A design featuring a large tree that divides the field of the rug in half. The tree of life is a symbol common to many monotheistic religions. Resonating the story of the Garden of Eden, it reminds us of man's aspiration to become divine—its fruit is believed to bring immortality, and therefore it is forbidden. Mankind, unable to eat this fruit, must place all hope in life after death. Thus the tree of life becomes a symbol of the afterlife, of immortality, and of hope. In carpet design, the tree of life can appear in figurative form, but also in more stylized interpretations.


Tufting: A process I which the pattern-forming pile yarns are inserted into the foundation of the rug with the use of a handheld machine.



Vegetable dyes: Dyes derived from insects or from the earth, which includes madder root, indigo, milkweed, pomegranate, Osage, cutch and cochineal.


Warp: Beginning part of a rug where wool, cotton or silk strands are attached to a Loom vertically, following the length of a rug. The foundation threads of a rug that are strung from the top to the bottom of a loom. In Persian and Oriental rugs, the knots are tied on the warp threads, which also form the fringes at the ends of the finished rug.

Weft: Wool, cotton or silk strands inserted horizontally over and under the warp forming the foundation of the rug. The foundation threads of a rug that are strung across the width of a loom. These threads are passed through alternate warp threads after each row of knots is tied. They serve to secure the knots in place and also form part of the sides (selvages) of the rug.

Wool Foundation: A rug is started with a wool warp and weft.



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