China, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet, Turkey, some of the southern territories of the old Soviet Union (like Azerbeijan or Armenia), are all contributors of genuine Oriental Rugs. Balkan countries like Romania and Albania, and some North African countries like Morocco and Egypt, are also producers of these artistic floor coverings. Genuine Oriental rugs are not made in Western Europe or in the United States.
An authentic oriental rug is a handmade carpet that is either knotted with pile or woven without pile. Oriental-design rugs made by machine or any method other than hand knotting or hand weaving are not considered authentic oriental rugs.
“During the past century, the Oriental rug has become valued throughout the world as a work of art. With its rich history and color, the Oriental rug often is called the aristocrat of carpets. Although the Oriental rug of today may not soar through the air like the magic carpet of Arabian legend, the Oriental rug does perform magic, transforming interior spaces into extraordinary spaces.
The term, Oriental rug, traditionally has been used to describe hand-knotted rugs from the East. The process typically involves stretching warp threads on a loom and knotting the pile to these threads. When a row of knots is completed, a weft thread is inserted. Once the entire carpet is knotted, the pile is shorn. To a large degree, the precision of the design depends on how tightly the rug has been knotted and how short the pile has been cut.
The rug’s density, or number of knots per square inch, can be a useful indicator of the fineness and durability of the rug – the more knots the better. A superb Oriental rug may have more than 500 to 1,000 knots per square inch.” 
Oriental Rug Glossary
The Premier Resource for Antique Tribal Rugs and Textiles on the Internet.
Specializing in source acquisition of antique tribal rugs and textiles from Central Asia including Turkoman, Baluch, Persian tribal, Uzbek and Kirghiz weavings and silk embroidery… offered at reasonable prices.
When attempting to understand oriental rugs and the literature in addition to some of the descriptions provided here it is necessary to fully understand the nomenclature, the actual words used. I have provided a glossary of terms, which I hope will assist those with an interest in oriental rugs and textiles to further their knowledge and increase their appreciation of this beautiful art form. - Seref Ozen
Abr: (Uzbek) type of fabric patterning, literal translation - ‘cloud.’
Abrash: Change or variation in the color of a rug due to differences in the wool or dye bath. The effect of abrash is subtle shading differences. In older or antique rugs, abrash occurs naturally. In new rugs, both machine made and handmade, Abrash is carefully created by changing the color of the yarns to mimic a vintage look.
Adras: type of handmade semi-silk fabric.
Afghanistan: A land locked Central Asian country bordering Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan. A tribal society with a traditionally weak central government.
Afshar: A Turkic speaking nomadic and partly settled tribal group in Southern Persia with summer pastures in the mountains south and west of Kerman; they are weavers of excellent pile and kilim rugs.
Agra: Indian antique decorative carpets.
Ahar: Heriz style carpets NW Iran Azerbaijan.
Ahura Mazda: Pre-Islamic god. Zoroaster fire temples Yazd.
Aimaq: West Afghan group of tribes/clans, a Turkic group, live in yurts.
Aina gul : (Turkmen), literal translation - mirror with horns, pattern seen in some small Turkmen weaving such as chuvals or mafrash.
Ak Chuval : (Turkmen), literal translation - white chuval, a type of chuval with horizontal bands of pattern in pile and flat woven bands of plain weave, the elems are usually woven in pile with a white background colour, hence the term “ak chvual.”
Akkoyonlu: “People of the white sheep” historical central Asian Turks.
Akstafa: Caucasian rug type distinctive bird with tailcomb motif.
Anatolia: Asian Turkey.
Andkhoy: Afghan turkoman rug type.
Aniline Dye: A synthetic dye from coal tar. In the early 1900’s it was banned in Persia. This synthetic dye often turns white or gray, rather than simply fading, the reason why it was banned in Persia and its use discontinued elsewhere at nearly the same time.
Arab: The name given to various unrelated sub-tribes in south and east Iran as well as Afghanistan and Central Asia, descendents of ancient Arab invaders who brought Islam to Central Asia and beyond.
Arabesque: Group of particular curvilinear tendril designs. probably originated in Islamic spain.
Arabatchie, Arabatchi: A tribe of Turkmen, weavings are distinguished by a knot that is open left and often there is cotton in the wefting.
Ardebil: Good commercial weaving centre in azerbaijan.
Armenia: Ancient home of the Armenians. Adjancent to the Caucasus and Turkey
Art Silk: Artificial silk, normally made with mercerized cotton.
Ashkabad, Ashgabat: Turkmenistan city, capital of Turkmenistan, traditional home of the Tekke Turkmen tribe.
Assadabad: Hamadan Area herati designed rugs with nicely small central medallion.
Aubusson: French design normally with a medallion and pastel colors.
Azeribaijan: Straddling Iran and the Caucasus, this Turkish-speaking province could be the most important rug weaving area in history.
Babur: Babur was a direct descendent of Tamurlane, sat on the throne in Kabul and founded the Mogul dynasty in India. The Babur Nama gives a view of the life of a nomadic central Asian horseman driven from his ancestral lands by the emergent Uzbeks to found the Moghul dynasty in N India.
Bactria: historical Central Asian dynasty. Related to the Greeks.
Badam: literal translation from all of the Turkic based languages including Uzbek, Turkmen, Farsi ‘almond’, refers to a pattern seen more often in Ersari weavings used as a border motif.
Bahktiari: A nomadic group in southern Persia migrating between the central Zagros mountains and the low-lying areas around Ahvaz; in common with the Lurs they speak a Persian dialect with archaic features. They are also settled in numerous villages in a wide area east of the mountains around Shahr Kord, know as the Chahar Mahal.
Bakhshaish: NW Persian town, good antique decorative carpets. A financial consideration.
Baku: Caspian Sea port.
Balkh: N Afghan ruined city of historical importance.
Bashtyk : Kirghiz storage bag, may be either pile or an embroidered textile.
Behbehan: Luri centre between Shiraz and Ahwaz.
Belouch: (Also, Baluch, Balouch, Beluch, Balooch) Known for the distinctive black-tents made of goats’ hair, the Belouch are a nomadic group inhabiting eastern Iran, western Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan. They speak a language related to Persian. Their weavings have a uniquely archaic look .
Benares: India famous brocades, a holy city by the banks of the Ganges River in India.
Bergama: West Anatolian anthic city with a strong weaving tradition.
Beshir: Place in Central Asia, on the banks of the Amu Darya and generic name for colourful weavings with similar patterns, many of which are related to silk ikat weaving designs.
Beysehir: Anatolian town, famous for great antique rugs discovered at the Seljuk period mosque.
Birjand: East Iran centre for both floral and tribal weaving.
Border: A design that surrounds the field in an oriental rug.
Bordjalu: Georgian style of Kazakh and a type of sombre Kurdish rug.
Boteh: A pear-shaped figure often used in oriental rug designs, characteristic of the paisley pattern. The botch may represent a leaf, bush or a pinecone.
Bukhara: (Bokhara) For centuries, a center of Muslim learning and spirituality, and the principal trading point for Turkmen tribal carpets; many Turkman carpets as a result have erroneously been called “Bukhara.”
Canakkale: West Anatolian city.
Carding: A process in the preparation of raw wool (or other fibers) for spinning accomplished by drawing it repeatedly across rows of small metal teeth.
Caucasian: Rugs were mainly woven in Azerbaijan, which is part of the Caucasus region.
Chain Stitch: A crochet stitch used in rug construction that consists of successive loops to lock the final weft in place at the end of a rug.
Chemche: (Turkmen) literal translation, spoon, refers to a secondary gol used in Turkmen pile weavings.
Chobash: Ersari (?) subgroup of Turkmen weavers.
Chodor: Turkoman tribe found in Turkmenistan and the Khiva region of Uzbekistan
Cloud Band: A design usually associated with Chinese rugs but which is used in a variety of rugs as floral pattern.
Cochineal: Deep red dye obtained from the dried bodies of a type of insect.
Combing: Process for preparing wool’s in the same direction, before they are spun.
Daghestan: NE Caucasus fine bluish rugs.
Daoulatabad: NW Afghan village, market center for selling commercial rugs from the Afghan Turkmen tribes.
Dhurrie: A flatwoven rug from India, usually made of cotton.
Diyarbakir: Kurdish rug collecting centre in East Anatolia.
Dizlyk: small pentagonal shaped pile weavings for the knees of camels.
Doruksh: Jufti knotted Qainat carpets in the floral city style.
Dozar: A Persian name used to describe approximately a 4.6 x 6.6 size carpet.
Dry rot: After many years the rug becomes dry and brittle, or liquids or moisture on a rug for an extended time can cause the rug to become dry rot.
Elem: (Turkmen) additional border in pile rugs, situated at the ends of a main rug or at the bottom of a mafrash, torba or chvual.
Endless Knot: A buddhist emblem symbolizing long duration, often used with other symbols.
Ensi: rug which covers the entrance to a yurt.
Erivan: Armenian rug centre.
Ersari: A large sub-tribe of the Turkmen distributed along the Amu Darya valley and in northwest Afghanistan. Recently, many Ersari have settled in Pakistan.
Eshik tysh: door hanging or rug used by the Kirghiz, a Kirghiz word.
Eyer: (Turkmen) saddle.
Field: The part of a rug’s design surrounded by the border. The field may be blank or contain medallions or an over-all pattern.
Flat Weave: Weaving in which no knots are used. The weft strands are simply passed through the warp strands. For example a Kilim, Cicim or Soumac.
Foundation: The warp and weft is the basis/foundation of a rug.
Gabbeh: A Lori word to describe fairly coarse, long-piled rugs made by nomads of the central Zagros Mountains for use in the tent. They are decorated with bold abstract patters or naïve designs and used to be considered too crude to be worth trading but recently their artistic value has been recognized.
Gajari: (Uzbek, Turkmen, Kirghiz) type of warp faced flat weave technique with the pattern only on one side a loose warps on the back.
Garden Design: Panel designs throughout the field woven with floral motifs, particularly found in a Persian Bahktiari.
Genje: Colourful central Caucasian rugs.
Gilam: also kilim, kelim, a flatwoven rug.
Gol (Gul): Flower, rose, a name etc., primary element in Turkmen rugs.
Gordes (Ghiordes): West Anatolian town from which classical prayer rugs come.
Gorevan: Azeri town carpeyts similar heriz.
Ground: Background color which sets off the principle design motif of the rug.
Gul: also ‘gol’ A medallion either octagonal or angular in shape, used in Turkoman designs. It is often repeated to form an all-over pattern in the field. A term of disputed origin and significance. Perhaps it is a crude transliteration of the word for flower (Persian) or roundel (Turkish). In practice it is used to describe the discrete ornaments arranged in an endless repeat pattern used by Turkmen weavers to decorate their carpets, bags and other weavings. It is possible to say that each tribe had its own weaving style in which certain colors and guls were used in easily recognizable combinations.
Hamadan: City and generic name to single wefted rugs of NW Iran.
Hand Hooked (Hand Tufted): Rug-making process by which craftsmen insert yarn into a backing with a hand held single-needle tufting tool. The machine is often called a “gun.” The rug’s pattern is stenciled on primary backing material. After the tufting is complete, a backing is attached to protect and anchor the stitches.
Hand Knotted: Rug made by weavers who knot pile yarns around the warp fibers that run the length of the rug. Generally, the more knots per square inch, the more valuable the rug.
Hand: Tactile qualities of a fabric including softness, stiffness, rough, scratchy, etc.
Hand-made: Constructed by hand. The category can include hand knotted, hand tufted, hand hooked, needlepoint, aubusson and hand loomed rugs.
Harshang: Popular 18thC Caucasian rug design.
Hatchli: A design found in Turkemon rugs.
Hazara: An ethnic group of Central Afghanistan, descended from the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan, known for their oriental appearance.
Herat: W Afghan city, a center of art and culture in Afghanistan.
Herati: A fish pattern repeating throughout the field of a rug.
Hereke: West Anatolian town known for its famous silk rugs.
Heriz: Famous decorative and heavy carpets from azerbaijan.
Holbein: Dutch painter’s name attached to a type of Anatolian carpet design and group.
Ig: (Turkmen) literal translation - spindle.
Igsyalyk: small bag for a spindle.
Indigo: Different blue shaded dyes obtained from the leaves of the indigo plant.
Isfahan: Classically decadent central Persian city.
Istanbul: major crossroads and bazaar of the carpet world.
Izmir: SW Anatolian market centre.
Jufti: A false knotting technique that simplifies the knot for the weaver. A knot tied over four wraps instead of the usual two.
Julykhyrs: also julkhir (Uzbek), literal translation - bearskin, a type of pile rug made by both the Kirghiz and Uzbek weavers, usually with long pile, thought to serve as sleeping rugs.
Kabul: capital of Afghanistan.
Kandahar: Pashtoon cultural centre, S Afghanistan, second largest city in Afghanistan.
Kapunuk: (Turkmen) a pile weaving used as door surround, often associated with dowry and wedding function.
Karakalpak: a tribal group often thought to be aligned with the Uzbeks. Jon Thompson called them either Uzbekicised Turkmen or Turkmenicised Uzbeks, living primarily in the Khiva region of Uzbekistan.
Karchin: also karshin - storage bag.
Kashmir: Controversial home of some moghul carpets.
Kathmandu: market for some Himalayan weaving, capital of Nepal.
Kayseri: Centre of turkish commercial weaving especially silk.
Kazak: In origin, a tribal name, now a town, river and district in the extreme west of Azerbaijan, the Caucuses. Kazak rugs are noted for their coarse, long-pile carpets with shiny wool and vigorous designs. The weavers were Turkic nomads, now settled, who came to the region at the time of the great westward migration of Turks in the eleventh century.
Kejebe: (Turkmen) wedding litter placed on top of the camel, baskets for transporting a load.
Kellegi: A Persian word for a wide runner, for example 6 x 13.
Kepse Gol: (Turkmen) pattern name for a motif seen only in Yomud Turkmen rugs and weavings.
Kese: (Turkmen) tobacco pouch.
Kerman: elegant southeast Persian traditional weaving centre.
Ketken: plant used as a mordant in treating yarn before dyeing.
Khali: (Turkmen) pile rug, related to the Turkish word for rug (Hali).
Khalyk: (Turkmen) long narrow small rug hung on the chest of the wedding camel.
Khorjin: (Turkmen) also korjin, a saddle bag.
Kilim (Kelim, Gelim, Gilim): A pileless smooth surfaced weaving in which pattern is formed by the wefts, which completely conceal the warps.
Kirmizi: (Uzbek) cochineal dye.
Kirshehir: Centre of Anatolian prayer rugs.
Kizyl: (Turkmen) red.
Knot Count: The number of knots in a square inch of a rug. Hand made Chinese rugs are often described in terms of “line.” A 65 Line rug would have 65 knots per foot of width, 65 knots per foot of length, and 29 knots per square inch. Knot makes the pile or nap of a carpet and distinguishes it from the machine made and flatweaves.
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 and a Persian (Sennah) knot.
Knotted Pile: The type of weaving most associated with oriental rugs in which tufts of wool forming pile are wrapped around one or more (usually two) warps to project at right angles to the plane of the weaving. They are tied individually, one row at a time, and held in place by ground wefts. The process is to be distinguished from the making of hooked rugs in which tufts of wool are poked into pre-existing loosely woven fabric.
Konya: important Anatolian weaving and cultural centre.
Kork Wool: The very finest quality wool obtained from the shoulder and flanks of shearling lambs.
Kouchi: also Kuchi, Generic Afghan name for tribal pastoralists or nomads.
Kowdani: a type and quality of Afghan rug, Baluch group from eastern Afghanistan.
KPSI (Knots per square inch): Number of knots per square inch rates the knot quality.
Kufic: early Islamic script stylised in carpets usually borders.
Kula: West Anatolian historically important weaving town.
Ladik: west Anatolian weaving town.
Loom: Normally a wood structure that the carpet is woven on.
Lur (Lori): A tribe of black-tent nomads and settled villagers, long established in the northern and central Zagros mountains of south Persia, politically and linguistically linked to the Bahktiari. They make interesting piled and pileless weavings.
Madder: A powder extracted from the root of a Rubia plant used to make red natural dye.
Medallion: The large enclosed portion of a design, usually in the center. Typical shapes are diamonds, octagons and hexagons.
Mihrab: This design has the prayer arch of an Islamic mosque in the rug’s field.
Millefleurs: Small flowers make up the pattern throughout the rug’s field.
Mordant: From the Latin ‘to bite’, the term describes a substance used to prepare wool or silk for dyeing. The mordant attaches to receptor sites on the surface of protein fibers and makes a chemical bridge between the dyestuff and fiber. The most common mordants are alum and iron sulfite. Madder and the yellow plant dyes require a mordant, whereas indigo does not.
A subtance used in dyeing that fixes the dye permanently to the fiber. Acid dyes require basic mordants and basic dyes require acid mordants. Most natural dyes are weak acids. Different mordants produce different hues and shades from the same dye. Common mordants are aluminum sulphate, potassium alum, copper sulphate, ferrous sulphate, potassium dichromate, stannous chloride, dried yogurt and urine.
Natural Dyes: Dyes derived from insects or from the earth, which includes madder root, indigo, milkweed, pomegranate, cutch and cochineal.
Needlepoint: A rug making technique made with wool yarns worked on canvas using the same method as a needlepoint pillow.
Overcast Sides: Technique of over-rounding wool on the non-fringe sides of a rug.
Overtuft: Tufting process done by hand or machine in which an already tufted and dyed carpet has another yarn system tufted through the back of the fabric to develop a pattern on the surface of the carpet.
Oxidizes: With excess sunlight exposure rug colors can change to a brown or black color.
Pashto: An ethnic group found on both sides of the Afghan/Pakistan border, not associated with weaving but some rare pile and flat woven textiles are attributed to them.
Patina: The surface appearance of a rug usually mellows with age or use.
Pazyryk: Earliest complete carpet, excavated from a tomb in the Altai Mtns, dating to approx. 2500 BC, presently housed in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Illustrated and discussed in Frozen Tombs of Siberia, by Rudenko.
Persian Knot: Looped around one thread with only a half-turn around the other thread.
Pile: The nap of the rug or the tufts remaining after the knotted yarns are clipped.
Plain Weave: Used to describe a weave in which the warp and weft are of equal tension and spacing. On the surface the warp and weft are equally visible.
Prayer Rug: A rug with a representation of mosque or arched prayer area or niche.
Pushti: Persian term storage bags made by Afghan Baluch tribes.
Qum: Religious capital of Iran and produces modern carpets.
Salor: A tribe of Turkmen weavers renowned for their fine rugs and highly evolved designs. The knots are asymmetric open left.
Saffron: Natural dye use to obtain a yellow color.
Samarkand: Great Central Asian city, home of Tamurlane or Timur.
Saph: Several Mihrabs, which indicate the direction of Mecca, are arranged side by side on a rug used for prayer.
Saryk: Another tribe of the Turkmen, weavings are distinguished by the use of the symmetric knot and often use cotton in the pile.
Savonnerie: Made in France, this is a hand-knotted pastel rug with a floral medallion set on an open field with broken borders. This rug is the model for many of today’s Indian and Persian rugs.
Selvedge: The side finish on the sides, not the ends. Often an extension of the wefting and of similar colour and materials. Often overcast in goat hair.
Senneh Knot: Persian knot.
Senneh: Fine Kurdish rug.
Shiraz: SW Iran major rug collecting centre.
Shirvan: East Caucasian fine rugs.
Silk Road: Name for the Mediteranean - China trade routes.
Sivas: Cenral Anatolian town noted for floral carpets and centre of a kelim trade.
Soumak (Soumac): This refers both to the carpets made in the soumac technique and the technique itself. Primarily practiced in the eastern Caucasus, this technique produces a flat-woven carpet using weft wrapping in which wefts are pulled over then wrapped under a series of warps.
Spanish Knot: An unusual variation of the Turkish knot. A knot is tied on every other single warp thread with knotted warps alternating on each row.
Spinning: The process whereby a continuous thread is formed by twisting fibers together. The twist may be imparted by the rotation of a weighted rod (drop spindle) suspended from the thread. Alternatively, the rod may be attached to a rotating wheel driven by hand (spinning wheel) or a machine.
Tapestry Weave: Any variety of weaves where the pattern is created by ground wefts that do not run from end to end.
Tekke: The dominant Turkmen tribe in the second half of the nineteenth century, makers of a great variety of refined weavings. Their carpets, eagerly collected by Europeans, were baptized ‘Royal Bukhara’ by merchants wishing to enhance their appeal.
Tibetan Knot: A distinctive rug-weaving technique now used in other regions as well as in Tibet. A temporary rod, which establishes the length of pile, is put in front of the warp. A continuous yarn is looped around two warps and then once around the rod. When a row of loops is finished, then the loops are cut to create the pile. This method produces a slightly ridged surface.
Turkish Knot: Tied around two adjacent warp threads.
Usak (Ushak): West Anatolian weaving town with a long history.
Vegetable Dyes: Dyes derived from insects or from the earth, which includes madder root, indigo, milkweed, pomegranate, osage, cutch and cochineal.
Veramin: Distinctive paletted settled nomad weavings.
Warp: Beginning part of a rug where wool, cotton or silk strands are attached to a Loom vertically, following the length of a rug. Comprising the structure, parallel wrap yarns run the length of the rug and are interlaced with wefts.
Weft (Woof): The threads which are added in succession to the warp, crossing at right angles in the direction of the width of the fabric. In piled carpets they are invisible on the surface in kilims the wefts are the only threads visible.
Weft: Wool, cotton or silk strands inserted horizontally over and under the warp forming the foundation of the rug.
Weft-Faced: A rug where the weft yarns are more closely spaced than the warps.
Wool Foundation: A rug is started with a wool warp and weft.
Yagcibedir: the Anatolian belouch/turkoman rug type.
Yahyali: Central Anatolian rug type.
Yomut, Yomud, Yamut: A Turkmen tribe found in Turkmenistan and northeast Persia and remote regions still retain much of their ancient life-style.
Yoruk: A term used in Turkey for nomad. Apart from the Kurdish-speaking tribes, most of the nomads in Turkey are of central Asian Turkmen origin and some still call themselves Turkmen. Most carpets called ‘Yoruk’ in the market place are made by Kurdish-speaking people in eastern Turkey.
Yuntdag: West Anatolian rug type usually central medallion pendant with triangular motifs.
Zilli: traditional name for large simple flatweaves from the Caucasus.
To receive tips on how to maintain your oriental rug, sign up for our newsletter. We would also be happy to answer any questions you might have about your oriental rug, care and maintenance, so feel free to contact us.