Glossary

 

Abrash

A change of tone colour 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 another. Another reason for this is when one dye fades in 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 coloured bands enclosing the field. There are generally three or more bands, the widest being referred to as the main stripe.

Boteh

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

Bleeding

Occurs when dyed yarn which has not been washed properly after the dyeing process by "bleeding" or running into the surrounding areas. It can also occur to chemical dyes, which are not stable or color fast. Most common color affected is the red pigment.

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 Persian Kermans and other weavings with a French tradition.

Cartoon

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

Chrome Dyes

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

Color fast

When a dye is stable to both light and washing.

Dye

A substance used to color fibre, yarn or textiles.

Dyes - Natural

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.

Dyes - Synthetic

Dyes derived from chemical processes rather than from natural resources. Synthetic dye production began in the 1850's and by the 1870's these dyes began replacing natural ones in the main rug/carpet weaving areas. They were cheap and fast to produce and therefore were much more affordable to rug and carpet 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, color fast

Field

The area of a rug/carpet enclosed by the border. It usually has a design (but not always).

Gabbeh

Term used denotes a thick and long piled rug/carpet usually woven in the Fars region. It means unclipped in Persian.

Gul

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

Herati

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

Kilim

A rug/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/carpets 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 (Mahi)

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/carpet. Shapes can be of diamonds, hexagons, circles, stars, octagons, or ovals. A rug may have more than one medallion.

Overcasting

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

Palmettes

A stylized fanlike motif resembling the cross section of a lotus flower. It appears in both the 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/carpet, which depicts representations of people, places or any other images other than the conventional design motifs.

Pile

The raised surface of a rug/carpet formed by the weaving of the 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 the Muslim religion the rug will be placed towards Mecca, and the faithful will kneel in the Mihrab and pray.

Runner

A long narrow rug or carpet, 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 in between the two

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/carpet.