A great shortcut…find the term you seek in this Glossary and copy the word, then come back up here and paste the word(s) or phrases into the “search for” box below and click on “start search”. There is a “back to top” throughout this glossary This will result in a full list of pages that has that word or term in them. We hope this makes your visit easier to navigate. If you just want the search engine form without this glossary as a guide, click here for the traditional search engine of this entire website. Search for: Search for: This glossary defines structural weaving and repair terms, generic terms relating to structure and function applied to pile fabrics and Near-eastern flat weaves, dye terms and a few terms describing design motifs. It does not present terms used in classifying rugs by source or origin. Where a foreign term is used, the derivation is indicated by the letter in brackets: (P) for Persian, (A) for Arabic, and (T) for Turkish or Turkmen.A

abrash (P) A change in color in the field and border due to differences in wool or dye batches. The color change extends across the rug, weft-wise. Abrash is more likely to occur at the top of a rug, as beginning yarn batches are used up, than at the bottom of a rug.

abrisham (P) Silk.

aniline dyes Aniline dyes are synthetic dyes. They were the first manufactured chemical dyes and were introduced in the Near East about 1870. Aniline dyes fade and change color with exposure to light.

alpaca A domesticated South American animal related to the llama. It has long silky wool used in South American weaving.

Arabic numbers, dates Dates are sometimes woven into rugs using Arabic calligraphy. These numbers translate as follows:

The Arabic date is converted into a European date using this equation.Arabic Date + 622 – Arabic Date divided by 33.7 = European Date

ara-khachi (T) Middle or main stripe in a rug border.

asmylak T A five sided Turkmen camel trapping.

asymmetric knot The Persian (Farsibaff) or Senneh know. This know may be open to the right or to the left.

audience rug, triclinium In certain Islamic countries it was customary in important dwellings to arrange rugs in the main chamber as shown.

When a single rug is woven to represent this arrangement, it is known as an audience rug or triclinium rug (after the three couches surrounding the eating table in ancient Rome). These terms are not native to Islamic countries nor do they correctly suggest the function of the rug in a household.

azo dyes Synthetic dyes introduced about 1880 including Ponceau 2R, Amaranth and Rocelline. Many of these dyes have a tendency to run.


baff (P) Knot in Persian.

bala-khachi (T) Narrow borders on either side of a main border.

band-e Kenareh (P) Heavy selvage warps in a pile rug.

bast Woody fibers used for weaving such as flax, hemp, or jute.

beshek (T) Bedding bag.

bloom To add ingredients to the dye bath which increase the brightness of colors.

border A design around the edge of a rug and enclosing the field. The border usually includes a wide band of repeating design called the main border.

bokche (T) A Turkmen envelope-like bag consisting of a square flatweave with pile woven triangles at each side of the rectangle. The triangular pieces are folded in inwards to form a container.

boteh A pear-shaped figure often used in oriental rug designs. It has been thought to represent a leaf, a bush or a pinecone. The boteh figure is characteristic of the Paisley pattern.


cable weft When warps are offset or depressed, wefts are alternately straight or bending in their passage through the warps. The straight and tight weft is termed a “cable” weft and the bending weft is termed a “sinuous” weft.

carding To comb fibers prior to spinning with brushes having wire bristles. Woolens are wool yarns that are carded.

cartoon A grid on paper with spaces colored to guide rug weavers in selecting pile yarns to execute a rug design.

cartouche An enclosed area in the field or border containing an inscription, name or date.

chain stitch A crochet stitch consisting of successive loops used to lock the final weft in place at the end of the rug.

chintamani Ottoman court motif of three balls above two cloudbands. Also referred to as the badge of Tamarlane.

chrome dyes a group of modern synthetic dyes that are used with a mordant of potassium bichromate. These dyes are fast and non-fugitive.

cicim (T) An Anatolian flatweave curtain or blanket composed of woven bands sewn together. Pronounced “jijim.” See “jijim.

cloud band A curving, horseshoe-shaped motif originating in China.

cochineal A red dye derived from the dried female bodies of the scale insect, Dactylopius coccus.

corrosion See “etching.”

crewel yarn A thin, lightweight, 2-ply, medium-twist yarn.

crocking A loss of dye color at points of friction or wear.


dashgah (T) Loom.

dhurrie, durrie A flatwoven carpet of India, frequently made of cotton.

divari (P) Vertical carpet loom.

dozar (P) A rug size–about 6 ft. by 4 ft. The term is not correctly applied to a rug designed as a sleeping mat. “Dozar” means two zars.


elem (T), skirt End panel of Turkmen bag faces and rugs outside of the main border.

ensi, engsi (T) pardeh (P) A felt or pile rug hung over the door of Turkmen tents. The pile ensi design usually includes four quadrants with these divisions creating a cross or hatchli in the center of the rug. See “katchli.

esperek (P), zalil A yellow dye obtained from the flowers of the yellow larkspur, Delphinium zalil.

etching, corrosion The loss of pile in colored areas of a rug where a dye was used that contains corrosive salts, usually areas dyed black or brown.


false selvage See “selvage, false.”

family prayer rug See “saph.”

farsh (P) Floor covering.

farsibaff Asymmetric or Persian pile knot.

field The portion of a rug design enclosed by borders. The field may be unoccupied or contain medallions or an all-over pattern.

figure eight stitch An overcasting stitch used for selvages containing two or more warps or warp bundles. The “8” is the path of the overcasting yarn as it passes around the warps.

flatweave A fabric woven without knotted pile.

float In a plain weave, carrying a weft over two or more adjacent warps or carrying a warp over two or more adjacent wefts.

flosh (T) Mercerized cotton polished to look like silk. Sometimes referred to as “Turkish silk.” Rugs made of mercerized cotton.

foundation The combination of warps and wefts in the body of a rug.

fringe Warps extending from the foundation at the ends of a rug. These warps are treated in various ways to prevent wefts and knots from unraveling.

fugitive dye The failure of a dye to retain its hue and shade. This failure may involve a change in hue as well as fading.

fuschine A magenta aniline dye discovered in about 1859. This dye fades when exposed to light.


gaba, gabeh Coarsely woven rugs from south-western Iran made of un-dyed wool.

garden carpet A design originally thought to represent the layout of a Persian garden with flower beds and streams. The term now refers to any rug that includes rectangular compartments, each containing some floral or botanic motif.

gauge rod a rod used in Tibetan pile weaving. Pile yarn is looped over the gauge rod and around the warps. When the loops over the gauge rod are cut, a pile of consistent height is produced.

gereh (P) Knot.

gereh zadan (P) To knot into fringes.

Ghirodes knot See “symmetric knot.”

gillim See “killim.”

ground The interlaced combination of warp and weft that is structurally essential to the fabric. In pile rugs, the “ground” may be referred to as the “foundation.”

guard stripe Stripes or lesser borders on either side of the main border. See “border.”

gul, gol A medallion of octagonal or angular shape used in Turkmen designs. Often, the gul is repeated to form an all-over pattern in the field. Certain Turkmen tribes are associated with specific guls as emblems of the tribe.


hali (T) Carpet (Pronounced “ha-la”).

hatchli, hatchlu See “katchli.”

heybeh (T) Saddle bag.

Herati pattern A design, usually repeated, consisting of a flower centered in a diamond with curving lanceolate leaves located outside the diamond and parallel to each side.

hue Color from the spectrum or combination of such colors.


ikat A process in which fabric designs are created by tie-dyeing warps and/or wefts before they are used on the looms. A fabric produced by this process.

indigo A blue vegetable dye derived form a member of the pea family,. A yellow juice from the plant oxidizes to blue upon exposure to air. Indigo was chemically synthesized in 1880.


jijim, djidjim (T) A flatweave of narrow strips sewn together.

jolam (T) See “tent band.”

jollar See “kapunuk.”

joval, juval, tschoval, chuval (T) A large bag, approximately 3 ft. by 6 ft., one surface of which may be covered with pile, used to store clothing. Often, only the pile face has survived.

jufti knot A symmetric or asymmetric knot tied over four warps instead of the usual two warps.

jute A fiber from the stem of the plant, Corchorus capsularis. Jute has been used in the pile of rugs form India.


kallehgi, kelley (P) A long, narrow carpet in which length is at least twice the width, 5 ft. by 10 ft. by 24 ft., for example.

kapunuk A pile fabric decoration for the inside of Turkmen tent doors.

kardak (P) Carpet trimming knife.

katchli, hatchlu, hatchli (T) The cross formed by the four panels in the design of an ensi.

kejebe (T) A tent-like enclosure for the bride on the back of a camel in a Turkmen wedding procession. The kejebe is represented in Turkmen rugs by shape

kelley (P) See “kalleghi.”

kenareh (P) Persian term for a runner, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 ft. wide.

kermes (P) A red dye prepared from a scale insect, Coccul ilicis, which infests oak trees.

khorjin, kharjin (P) A saddle bag.

killim A tapestry-woven rug. Also, the flatweave end of a rug.

kork (P) Underhair of a goat or fine belly wool of a sheep.

kufic (A) Used to describe border designs that are thought to be derived from an Arabic script.


lac a red dye made from a scale insect, Coccus laccae.

lachak torang (P) Any design with corner and central medallions.

lazy lines Diagonal lines visible from the back of the rug caused by successive rows of turnarounds of discontinuous wefts. This occurs when only a portion of the width of a rug is woven at one time.


macrame (A) Fringe. Used to describe off-loom weaving and knot work. From the Arabic for “knot.”

madder A red dye extracted from the root of the madder plant, Rubia tinctorium. Madder dye has been synthesized at the alzarine colors. “Alizari” is Arabic for madder.

mafrash (A) A small bag, often with a pile face. A traveling or bedding bag.

main border See “border.”

mako (P) Weaver’s shuttle.

Manchester See “merino.”

matn (P) Ground or field of a rug.

mazarlik (T) A Turkish carpet with representations of trees and houses. Some believe such carpets are used enfold the dead when carried to a cemetery.

meander Any of a wide variety of continuous border designs that do not fill the band they occupy but alternate from side to side.

medallion a large enclosed portion of a design usually located in the center of a field. Common shapes are diamonds, octagons and hexagons.

“Memling” gul a motif named after Hans Memlinc, a 15th century artist whose works show rugs designed with the motif.

mercerized Cotton thread whose strength and gloss has been increased by treating with alkali under pressure.

merino A breed of sheep producing very fine wool. The merino was first raised in Spain. Australian merino wool is used in some rugs from Iran and India. “Manchester” is merino wool processed in Manchester, England.

mian farsh (P) The middle carpet in the traditional Persian rug arrangement. See “audience rug.”

mihrab (P) The prayer niche in a mosque represented by the arch in a prayer rug.

millefleurs A design composed of many flower blossoms, often occupying the field of a prayer rug, found in rugs from Iran and India.

mina khani (P) An over-all pattern consisting of two or more flower blossoms connected by a diamond lattice.

mir-i-boteh (P) A design of multiple rows of botehs.

mohair, mouher (P) Yarn or fabric made from the fleece of the Angora goat.

mordant A product used in dyeing that reacts with the dye and fiber to fix the dye permanently to the fiber. Different mordants produce different hues and shades from the same dye.

morghi (P) A hen. A design employing images of chickens.

mori (T) A term describing the weave of certain Pakistani and Indian rugs, specifically the absence of warp offset in these rugs.

muska (T) A triangular design, supposed to have magical properties, derived from the shape of a pouch used to carry Koranic inscriptions or religious or shamanistic relics.


namazlik (T) nasqsh doa (P) Prayer rug.

naqsh A design or pattern.

nassag-bafendeh (P) Weaver.

node One loop of a pile knot around a warp when viewed from the back of a rug.


odjakhlik (T) A rug used in front of a fireplace.

offset See “warp offset.”

ok-bash (T) Tent pole cover.

overcasting A treatment of selvages consisting of a yarn wrapping or interweaving with yarn that is not continuous with foundation weft.


painting Applying dye, stain or color to the front of the rug after the rug is woven. Exposed foundation is sometimes painted to conceal wear.

palas A Caucasian flatweave rug.

pardeh See “ensi.”

pashm (P) Wool.

Persian knot See “asymmetric knot.”

Persian yarn A soft-spun, 3-ply yarn made up of medium-twist 2-ply yarns.

pile Nap of the rug. The tufts remaining after the knotted yarn is clipped.

pillar rug A Chinese pile rug designed to be wrapped around a pillar or column. The design is not complete unless the edges of the rug abut.

plain weave The simplest interlacing of warp and weft in which there is only one weft in each of two sheds composed of alternating warps.

plug A piece from another rug sewn or woven into a hole in a rug.

ply Two or more yarns spun together make a ply or plied yarn.

prayer rug A rug with representation of a mihrab or prayer niche. Columns may be shown supporting the arch and a lamp may be shown hanging from the apex of the arch. A double prayer rug is one showing a niche at either end as a mirror image. See “saph.”

Prophet’s green Shades of green derived from combinations indigo blue and yellow obtained from either yellow larkspur or unripe berries of a plant of the buckthorn family. this was thought to be the color of Mohammed’s banner.

provenance The source or origin. When applied to rugs, provenance refers to the place of origin, the weavers of the rug and the time of origin.

pu (P) A row of knots in a carpet.

pud (P) Weft.

pushti A Persian mat of about 3 ft. by 2 ft.


qali (P) any rug larger than about 6 ft. by 9 ft.


rang (P) Dye, color.

rang-raz (P) Dyer.

rang shodeh (P) “Color has been given.” A painted rug.

rofu (P) Repair. To repair so that it may not be evident.


“S” spun Yarn spun in clockwise direction. The diagonal in the “S” suggests the direction of spin.

sadden To add ingredients to the dye bath which mute or darken the color.

saddle bags Two bags or pouches connected so they can be thrown over the back of a horse or donkey. The outside faces may be pile while the inside faces are flatwoven. Typically, a pair of bags is about 2 ft. by 4 ft.

Safavid Refers to rugs made during the Safavid dynasty in Persia between 1500 and 1730.

saijada (P) Prayer rug.

salt bag A bag of distinctive shape that may have a pile face. It is used to store salt or grain.

saph, saff A prayer rug containing multiple niches in a row, sometimes referred to as a family prayer rug.

selvage, selvedge The edge warps of a rug and the foundation wefts passing around those warps.

Senneh knot See “asymmetric knot.”

sezar (P) Three zars. A rug approximately 7 12/ ft. by 5 ft.

shade A hue with an admixture of white, black or grey.

shed The opening formed through the warps when alternate warps are raised to permit the shuttle and weft to pass through the warps. There is one shed for each set of warps, depending on whether even or odd-numbered warps are raised.

shoot, shot, pick A weft or the passage of a weft through a shed.

shotori (P) Camel-colored or naturally brown sheep wool.

sili See “zili.”

singles yarn An unplied yarn consisting of fibers all spun in the same direction.

sinuous weft When warps are offset or depressed, wefts are alternately straight or bending in their passage through the warps. The bending weft is termed a “sinuous” weft and the straight weft is termed a “cable” weft. See “cable weft.”

sizing Starch or glue added to yarns or fabrics to increase their smoothness, stiffness or bulk.

skein A coil of yarn.

skirt See “elem.”

sofreh (P) A cloth of which food is served.

soumak A flatwoven rug using supplementary wefts in a weft-wrapping technique, usually producing a herringbone effect.

silk weave A tapestry weave in which wefts of different colors reverse direction on adjacent warps. Where several rows of wefts reverse direction on the same adjacent warps, a slit in the fabric results.

Spanish knot A pile knot on a single warp. This knot is thought to have originated in North Africa.

spandrel Designs spanning the corners of a rug and the areas in either corner above a mihrab.

spin The relative direction of twist of yarns, “Z” spun or “S” spun.

staple The average length of fibers in a yarn.

supplementary weft A weft that is not structurally essential to a fabric that is added to create a textured or ornamental effect.

supplementary weft float patterning Ornamentation of a ground fabric with supplementary wefts, continuous from selvage to selvage, that skip over two or more adjacent warps.

suzanduz (P) Coarse needlework patterning on flatwoven rugs. The term is incorrectly applied to soumac weave.

suzanni (P) embroidered needlework used as wall hangings and bed covers.

symmetric knot The Turkish (Turkbaff) or Giordes knot. This knot is tied on two warps as shown:


tamgas Nomadic livestock brand which may also be a tribal emblem woven into rugs.

talim (P) A written description of the numbers of pile knots and their colors to create a specific design. Used in the production of factory rugs.

tapestry weave Any one of a variety of weaves in which there are no supplementary wefts and the pattern or design is created by ground wefts and the pattern or design is created by ground wefts that are not continuous from selvage to selvage.

tapestry yarn A 4-ply, hard-spun yarn.

tar (P) Warp.

tent band, girth, jolam, yup Tent bands, visible from the inside of Turkmen tents, serve both structural and decorative purpose. Some tent bands are ornamented with pile. Tent bands are between 8 in. and 22 in. wide and about 40 ft. long.

torba (T) A shallow bag hung from the tent structure. A torba is smaller than a joval. Pile knotting may be used on only one face of a torba.

triclinium See “audience rug.”

tun (P) Warp.

turnarounds In reweaving foundation, new warp reverses direction when it passes from one column of knot nodes to the next column of knot nodes. New weft reverses direction when it passes under a knot. These reversals of direction are called “turnarounds.”

Turkbaff See “symmetric knot.”

Tukish knot See “symmetric knot.”

twill A basic diagonal weave in which warps consistently skip 2, 3, 4 or 5 wefts or wefts consistently skip 2, 3, 4 or 5 warps.


vagier reh (P) “That which is gotten from something else.” A sample rug.

vakif (A) The Islamic practice of giving land, rugs or other assets to the mosque.

vase carpet Carpets with a field filled by flowers and tendrils or a lattice with a vase located at one or both ends.

verneh Caucasian flatweave rug.

vordelik (T) Wall hanging. Silk rugs are often used in this manner.


warp Warps are the initial structural components of loom-woven fabrics. Parallel warp yarns run the length of the loom. Wefts are woven through the warps and pile knots are tied to the warps.

warp faced In a balanced plain weave, warps and wefts are equally visible. In a warp faced fabric, warps are more closely spaced than wefts and wefts are concealed.

warp offset, warp depression A set of warps can be held in a plane by tight supporting wefts (cable wefts) while alternate warps are permitted to lie in another plane due to loose and bending wefts (sinuous wefts). Alternate warps are seen to be depressed from the back of the rug. Warps may be offset to the extent that one warp may lie on top of another. See “cable weft.”

washing Rugs may be washed in chemical solutions to soften (bleach) colors and to increase the lustre of fibers.

weft Wefts are yarns woven through warps by means of a shuttle. Wefts are horizontal or crosswise yarns when the fabric is viewed on a loom.

weft chaining A weft wrapping technique similar to crochet work in which weft loops are pulled through each other as they pass around warps.

weft faced In a balanced plain weave, warps and wefts are equally visible. In a weft faced fabric, wefts are more closely spaced than warps and warps are concealed. Because of the warp spacing dictated by pile knotting, end killims are usually weft faced.

weft float brocade The use of supplementary wefts, not continuous from selvage to selvage, to create a design by skipping over warps. The ground fabric is usually a plain weave in oriental rugs.

weft twining A weft wrapping method in which two wefts pass across warps, twisting together after each warp or at regular intervals.

weft wrapping Any system by which wefts loop around warps rather than only interlacing or passing over and under warps. Soumak and weft chaining are two forms of weft wrapping.

weld The plant, Reseda luteola, the stalks, leaves and flowers of which yield a yellow dye.

whip stitch A simple stitch used in overcastting and to lock the final weft in rug ends.

woolen A wool yarn of mixed staple that has been carded. Fibers are neither as long or as parallel as worsted yarn.

worsted a wool yarn of long staple with fibers that have been combed prior to spinning. Combing produces more parallel fibers than carding.


yak-gereh (P) Asymmetric knot.

yastik (T) A small Anatolian pillow face about 1 1/2 ft. by 3 ft.

yatak (T) Anatolian shaggy-pile rugs made as sleeping mats.


“Z” spun Yarn spun in a counter-clockwise direction. The diagonal lines in the “Z” suggests the direction of spin.

zalil See “esperek.”

zar (P) Persian linear measure of about 41 or 44 inches. Also, gold.

zaronim (P) A Persian rug of about 5 ft. by 3 1/2 ft. Literally, one and one-half zars.

zili, sili A Caucasian flatweave.

zilu (P) Woven cotton rug.