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Glossary


ABRASH

A word of Turkish origin normally used to describe the color of a horse; it means dappled, speckled or mottled. The term has long been used in the trade to describe the small variations in hue and saturation found within a single color in a carpet. It applies to two distinct phenomena. The first is caused by the crude technology of the tribal and village dyer, which, combined with variations in yarn diameter, makes small variations in the color of yarn dyed as a single batch. In the carpet this appears as a mottling which gives the color an attractive depth; an absolutely uniform color, by comparison, appears dull and dead. The second is the abrupt change in color occurring at the point where one batch of wool finishes and another, not quite matching, begins: a distinct horizontal line is visible at the junction between the two batches. Link Pictures of Abrash on Nomad Rugs Blog

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. External Link Parvis Tanavoli On Afshar Rugs by Jim Adelson

ARABESQUE

A form obtained by the complex interlacing of continuous lines of leaves and shoots. External Link Arabesque in Wikipedia

ASYMMETRICAL KOT

The asymmetrical knot is formed by thread going around two warps and fully encircling only one of them; it then passes behind the back and one side only of the other warp thread. Also called Persian or Senneh knot. External Link Basic Tribal and Village Weaves at MarlaMallett.com

BAHKTIARI

A nomadic group in southern Persia migrating between the central Zagros mountains and the low-lying areas around Ahvaz; in common with the Lur people, 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. External Link Bahktiari People in www.wikipedia.org

BELOUCH

The exact origins of the Baloch are shrouded in some mystery and various theories are disputed by academics and historians. The Belouch speak a common language, Belouchi, which is derived from an ancient Indo-Iranian language. Modern day Belouch reside in the border areas spanning the countries of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The largest area of Belouchistan exists in western Pakistan with the city of Quetta as its capital. The Belouch of Pakistani Belouchistan, however, are not known for their pile weaving but for their intricate weft-substitution flat-weaves. Most pile rugs are made by the Belouch of Iran and Afghanistan. Learn more about the Belouchi people and Belouch weaving.

BESHIR

BESHIR Turkmen tribe affiliated with the Ersari; it is also the main weaving center in the Amu Darya valley. External Link A Note on Ersari Group Turkmen Weavings by Peter Poullada.

Border

The element that frames the field design. It is sometimes said to represent a window overlooking the infinite.

BOTEH

A pear-shaped figure (which inspired the “paisley" design) often used in Oriental rug designs. There is much speculation regarding the origin of this motif. Some consider it a representation of a tree swaying in the wind, a pear or pinecone. Other interpretations considered are more mystical: the holy flame of Zoroaster or the alembic of the spiritual alchemists. External Link Boteh image (JPG) at woltextapijten.com

BROCADED

Technique where the pattern is not constituted by means of pile knots but by inserting supplementary weft shoots. There are various brocading techniques, the best known of which is the soumac technique. External Link Basic Tribal and Village Weaves at MarlaMallett.com

BUKHARA

a) 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". b) The trade name for inexpensive and uninspired carpets woven in Pakistan with Turkmen designs.

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. External Link Video Showing Hand Carding at YouTube.com

CARTOUCHE

Ornament having an elongate ovoid, octagonal, or hexagonal form which is typically found on borders.

CHINTAMANI

An ornament seen in early Ottoman art composed of three circles arranged triangularly, flanked underneath a pair of wavy lines.

CHUVAL

Large rectangular storage bag found mainly among the weavings of the Turkmen tribes.

CLOUDBAND

A motif shaped like a collar made up of stylized clouds.

DEPRESSED WARPS

Refers to the warp depression created by the tension given by the weft. In extreme cases the second warp will be behind the first one. External Link Basic Tribal and Village Weaves at MarlaMallett.com

ELEM

Additional, often ornamented end border, appearing at one or both ends of different Turkmen pieces.

ENDLESS KNOT

A motif made up of a pair of continuously interlaced lines.

ENSARI

A large sub-tribe of the Turkmen distributed along the Amu Darya valley and in northwest Afghanistan. Recently, many Ersari have settled in Pakistan. External Link A Note on Ersari Group Turkmen Weavings by Peter Poullada

ENSI

Turkmen term for a rug employed as a tent-door cover.

FIELD

The main, central part of the carpet design composition. Sometimes also known as the ground.

FLAT WEAVE

A loose term used to describe any pile less weaving, for example a Kilim, Çiçim, or Soumac. External Link Basic Tribal and Village Weaves at MarlaMallett.com

FOUNDATION

The skeleton of the rug, that is the number and type of warps and wefts.

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.

GUL

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. External Link Tekke Gul at turkotek.com

HANDLE

Impression given by the texture of a rug when touched; generally, it refers to the quality of the surface, the feel when gripped, and the consistency of the back.

HANDSPUN WOOL

This refers to wool that was processed by hand. Although some people prefer the uniformity and formal appearance that machine-spun wool imparts to carpets, most connoisseurs value the effect produced by hand spun wool. When spun by hand, yarn absorbs more dye where it is loosely spun and less dye where it is spun tightly, thus producing pleasant variegation in the colors of a rug. This variation in color is known in the rug world by the Turkish term [glossary_exclude]abrash[/glossary_exclude]. Hand spun wool naturally requires more labor and thus rugs woven with handspun wool are more costly. But, the hand spinning process is less abrasive to the wool; more of the natural oils (lanolin) are retained and less fibers are broken. This produces a wool thread that is more resilient and carpets made with such wool will last long and wear better. The drop spindle is the tool most commonly used for hand spinning in rug weaving countries.

HARSHANG

A design seen on certain Caucasian and Northwest Persian rugs composed of a polylobed palmette alternated to an almond-shaped cartouche with split-leaf arabesques sprouting from each end.

HAZARA

The Hazara are an ethnic group that resides primarily in the central mountain region of Afghanistan known as Hazarajat. There is also a significant population of Hazaras in Pakistan in Iran. The Hazaraqai language is a unique dialect of the Persian language with some Mongolian and Turkish vocabulary. Most Hazara are Shia Muslem; a fact that has made them victims of persecution under the Taliban regime. Read more at hazara.net.

HERATI

An allover pattern seen on many Persian rugs, composed of small leaves connected to a small palmette.

IKAT

A complex weaving technique giving rise to multicolored [glossary_exclude]warp[/glossary_exclude]-faced silk textiles ascribed to the [glossary_exclude]Bukhara[/glossary_exclude] area in Uzbekistan. The term ikat, which is used in the west, is taken from an Indonesian word describing the same weaving technique. In Central Asia, the term that is used to describ these textiles is abr. Ikat fabrics are created from a complex process of resist-dye technique in which unwoven warps threads are first dyed in a multi-step process with complex designs. The more colors, the more steps are involved in wrapping threads, dyeing one color, unwrapping and repeating. Only after the design is applied through the dyeing process is the weaving completed by weaving in the [glossary_exclude]weft[/glossary_exclude] threads. This laborious process which requires the expertise of master dyers and master weavers produces distinctly beautiful textiles.

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. External Link Caucasus in Wikipedia

KAZAKH

The name given to the people of Kazakhstan (Central Asia) in 1936. Today they are the largest group of felt-tent nomads, known for their felts and reed screens; they are not strong in piled carpets. External Link Kazakhstan from Wikipedia

KHORJIN

Double sided saddlebag.

KILIM

A smooth flat-woven Oriental rug, made much like Navajo rugs, without pile. Also know as “gelim" in Persia or “ durrie" in India. These hand woven rugs are generally made entirely from wool. Kilims have traditionally been woven in all the major rug weaving countries such as Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia as well as North Africa. Kilims tend to have a more graphic and informal look. I personally really love kilims because they were often not woven for commercial export and as such, tend to retain the oldest and most traditional designs (although we carry kilims in modern designs too). Kilims generally do not last as long in floor use as the thicker knotted pile carpets (perhaps an average of about 25 years compared to 50-80 years of use for a hand knotted pile carpet). But they also cost a fraction the price of knotted pile carpets.

KNOTTED PILE

The type of weaving most associated with Oriental rugs in which tufts of wool pile (or silk, etc.) are hand wrapped around one or more (usually two) warps to project at right angles to the plane of the weaving creating a plush textile. They are hand tied individually, one row at a time, and held in place by ground wefts. Also known as hand knotted pile. The process is to be distinguished from the making of inferior hooked rugs or tufted rugs in which tufts of wool are poked into pre-existing loosely woven fabric and held in place by glue or glued backings. Carpets produced with hand knotted pile are renowned not only for their beauty but also for their extreme durability and longevity. The process of hand knotting is the most intricate and labor intensive process used to make carpets today. And hand knotting produces the best quality carpets that are crafted to last for generations.

KURD

The Kurdish people inhabit a mountainous area of Southwest Asia which includes parts of Iraq, Turkey and Iran as well as smaller sections of Syria, Armenia and Lebanon. Kurds speak the mostly mutually intelligible dialects of the Kurdish language, which has Indo-European roots. Although many Kurds live in modern-day Middle Eastern countries, they differ from the Arabs, Turcs, Assyrians, Armenians as well as the Persians in a variety of ways which may not be apparent to the outside observer. Ranging anywhere from 25 to 27 million people, the Kurds comprise one of the largest ethnic groups without their own country in the world. Their weaving tradition is wonderfully rich and varied; from flat weaves to nomadic pieces to village rugs to intricate workshop carpets. External Link Kurdish People at wikipedia.org

LAZY LINES

Diagonal lines visible on kilims or on the back of a rug and caused by the discontinuity of the weft.

LUR

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.

MEDALLION

Ornament, usually having a rounded shape, circular, oval or star like; mainly in the center of the field, however often as a vertical repeat or an allover pattern.

MIHRAB

Term used to define the niche in Oriental prayer rugs, adapted from the niche in the interior of mosques which indicates the direction of Mecca. The question whether or not there is such a direct connection between prayer rugs and the mihrabs of mosques has still to be answered.

MINA KHANI

An infinitely repeating floral pattern made up of a large flower head with four small flowers.

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. External Link Mordants at aurorasilk.com

MUGHAL

A Mongol dynasty that dominated India from 1526 to 1858. External Link Mughal in Wikipedia

NATURAL DYES

History Until the end of the 19th century, natural dyes were the only dyes used in the production of textiles. During the Victorian era, chemists discovered formulas for producing cheap aniline dyes. These early synthetic dyes swept through rug producing countries like a plague. These aniline dyes faded rapidly and the colors bleed when washed with water. By the mid 20th century, the art of the naturally dyed rug was lost. Up until 1980, if you wanted to own a beautiful naturally dyed rug, you were obliged to buy an antique rug produced before the advent of synthetic dyes. Luckily for us, this changed in the 1980s. A German scientist, Dr Bohmer, with a passion for antique carpets unlocked the formulas for creating natural dyes. With the help of Turkish authorities, he founded the DOBAG project: creating Turkish rugs made entirely with naturally dyed wool. Soon, other entrepreneurs followed this example and now a small but passionate group of rug producers chose to make their rugs with these superior dyes. What are natural dyes? Natural dyes are dyes that are sourced from traditional plant and mineral sources. Some of the most widely used dyes in carpets are indigo, which creates all shades of blue, and madder root which creates reds, from light pink to brilliant burgundy. Other natural sources include pomegranate skin for yellows and walnuts husks for black. Green is created in a two-part process by first dyeing wool blue with indigo and then over-dyeing with yellow. Advantages of natural dyes. The synthetic dyes used today are excellent and far superior to the earlier aniline dyes. Nevertheless, natural dyes have many advantages over their synthetic counterparts. Natural dyes are more beautiful. The colors they produce tend to have a more organic and natural hue. Wool dyed from plant sources has a more variegated palate (known as [glossary_exclude]Abrash[/glossary_exclude]) that shifts in intensity and saturation creating a pleasing hand-made look. In addition, natural dyes tend to be more color-fast. They fade very little when exposed to sunlight. And, when they do fade, they develop a warm patina of age. They do not bleed when washed with water. And finally, natural dyes are not toxic. They do not pose a risk to the dyers or to the environment.

PALMETTE

Fan-like ornament frequently occurring in Persian art and on Persian carpets; it has either the shape of a richly composed blossom or of a similarly constructed leaf. External Link Palmette in Wikipedia

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. External Link Basic Tribal and Village Weaves at MarlaMallett.com

PRAYER RUG

Small rug typically with a single-niche design. External Link What do you mean, “It’s a prayer rug?" by Steven Price

QASHQAI

A political confederation of nomadic tribes in southern Persia officially disbanded in 1956. They speak a Turkish dialect, use black goat-hair tents and migrate between the coastal plain and the central Zagros Mountains. They are known for the quality of their weavings. External Link The Qashqai on QASHQAI.NET

RUNNING DOG

A reciprocal latchook motif seen on the outermost borders of rugs from the Caucasus and Persia. External Link Running Dog Pattern in Encyclopedia Britannica

SAF

Long rug composed of a series of flanking niches.

SAFAVID

The Safavids were an Iranian dynasty that ruled from 1501 to 1736. This was a time of great artistic and cultural development. Some of the great master-works of Persian carpets were created under this dynasty. Many of the designs from this period still influence and inform the carpets of today. External Link Safavid Empire 1502 – 1736 by Shapour Ghasemi

SELJUK

Turkish-speaking tribe who dominated areas between the Bosphorus and the western borders of China in the late 11th and 12th centuries.

SHAHSAVAN

Turkish-speaking tribal confederacy of mixed ethnic origin in Northwest Persia, formerly inhabiting parts of Southern Caucasus. External Link Guide to Shahsevan Rugs and Bags at spongobongo.com

SOFREH

Flatweave adopted by tribesmen from Persia and the Caucasus as a ground cloth during meals.

SOUMAC

This refers both to the carpets made in the soumac technique and the technique itself. Primarily practiced in the eastern Caucuses, this technique produces a flat-woven carpet using weft wrapping in which wefts are pulled over then wrapped under a series of warps. External Link Basic Tribal and Village Weaves at MarlaMallett.com

SPANDREL

Designation of the corner parts of a prayer rug situated to the left and the right of the arch.

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. See Handspun Wool.

SUZANI

Silk or cotton thread embroidery on cotton or silk background mostly from Uzbekistan, typically hand crafted as a dowry object. The term suzani is derived from the Persian word suzan meaning needle. These glorious textiles are painstakingly crafted with flowing curvilinear motifs representing sun and moon disks, flowers, vines, fruits (especially pomegranates) and occasionally birds and fish. The chain, button hole and satin stitches are the primary stitches used. Antique examples are extremely valued yet many fine examples are still being created today. Although there are classic designs and motifs, each suzani textile is unique and tells its own distinct tale.

SYMMETRICAL KNOT

The symmetrical knot bears this name because he thread forming the knot fully encircles two warp threads and reappears between them; occasionally around three or four warp threads; also called Turkish or Ghiordes knot. External Link Basic Tribal and Village Weaves at MarlaMallett.com

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. External Link CHARACTERISTICS OF TEKKE WEAVING at turkotek.com

TORBA

Small Turkmen bag hung inside the tent and used for storage.

TURKMEN

An ethno-linguistic term referring to people of speaking a Turkic language living in what is now called Turkmenistan, northeastern Iran and north Afghanistan, with refugee groups in Pakistan and east Iran. In the nineteenth century they were divided into several tribes including the Salor, Tekke, Saryk, Ersari, Yomut, Chodor and Kizil Ayak. They are outstanding weavers and some ethnologists have postulated that the technique of pile weaving may originate from the Turkmen. External Link www.turkmens.com

UZBEK

A tribal name referring to a people claiming Mongol descent but speaking a Turkic language. Nomadic groups of Uzbeks still exist in remote regions although, as is true with all tribal groups, most are today farmers and city dwellers. Most live in Uzbekistan but there are also many in Afghanistan as well as refugees in Pakistan and Iran. They speak the Turkic language, which distinguishes them from the Tajiks, descendent of the indigenous Indo-European population who have retained their Persian language. External Link Uzbeks at Wikipedia

VILLAGE RUG

A type of rug that is partially influenced by the style of the court carpets from urban centers, while incorporating certain tribal styles.

WARP

The longitudinal threads fixed to the loom before weaving begins, which form a basic part of the structure.

WEFT

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.

YASTIK

From Turkish, “cushion". Small Turkish rug or textile used as a cushion cover.

YOMUT

A Turkmen tribe found in Turkmenistan and northeast Persia. They are farmers, semi-nomads and nomads and in remote regions still retain much of their ancient life-style. External Link CHARACTERISTICS OF YOMUT WEAVING at turkotek.com

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. External Link Nomads (Yoruks) at allaboutturkey.com.

YURT

The Turkic name for the tent used by Turkmen tribes.