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Glossary

A

Abrash (Arbrush)

Inadvertent variations in color found within a field of color in an area rug. Abrash usually appears as tonal stripes running horizontally across the rug. Subtle instances of abrash are caused by natural variations in yarn diameter caused by hand-spinning, while heavier appearances of abrash are caused by switches of the dye batch. Since abrash is a natural effect of hand-weaving, and is sometimes an intentional attempt by the weaver to add interest to monotonous open-field backgrounds, it is generally seen as a desirable feature of tribal rugs.

Asymmetrical Knot

A type of Oriental pile rug knot where only one of the two warps are entirely encircled. (See also Persian Knot.)

Aubusson (Aubuson)

Style of rug that originated in France in the 15th century. Aubusson evolved into several main styles over the course of the next four centuries, including popular Antoinette, Josephine and Maison patterns. Aubusson were originally flat-weave rugs, usually featuring a floral medallion and pastel colors, but today these rug patterns have been adapted for pile rugs.

B

Backing

The fabric that makes up the backside of the carpet.

Bamboo Rugs

Bamboo rugs or mats are woven from natural bamboo fibers. Bamboo is cut into strands for woven designs and into wide strips for a hardwood floor effect.

Berber

Term popularly used to refer to a natural colored look of carpeting. This style has been developed commercially by carpet manufacturers. Berber is more accurately or traditionally defined as a group of North African tribespeople who crafted rugs of handspun yarn from the undyed wool of local sheep.

Bidjar

A rug design that originated in the Bidjar region of Iranian Azerbaijan. Originally, the design was Kurdish and featured hundreds of trees. It was really accountable for earning this region its famous reputation. Commercial Bidjar rugs are machine made and feature a characteristic diamond-shaped medallion. They are considered the most durable carpets in history, because most are guaranteed to last over 300 years. This has earned the Bidjar the name: “The Iron Rug of Persia.” Both types of Bidjar are still only made in limited quantities.

Binding

Band or strip sewn over a carpet edge to protect, strengthen or decorate it.

Bleeding

Transfer of fiber dyes from carpet or other fabrics by a liquid, usually water, with subsequent redepositing on other fibers.

Burn Test

The material content of a rug can be tested by burning a small tuft of the fiber. Cotton has a vegetable smell when burned, while wool and silk will smell like burning hair.

C

Carding

Process of arranging and smoothing wool fibers by pulling them between two spiked paddles

Cloudband

Originally a Chinese design, this pattern resembles a swirling band of clouds. Cloudbands also appear frequently in Persian rug designs.

Cross-woven

Cross-woven rugs are made on the Wilton loom. This technique incorporates fringes into the rug rather than requiring them to be sewn on afterwards. Cross-weaving is done from side to side, rather than top to bottom, which allows the use of more colors in addition to delicate details and an elegant abrash look.

Cut-pile

Cut-pile is a smooth finish created by cutting off the tops of the wool loops. The cut loops are then twisted to make tufts of yarn that stand erect, creating a soft even surface. Also known as ‘velour’ or ‘velvet’ pile.

D

Denier

Measurement of linear density (mass in grams of 9000 meters of the measured yarn or fiber). Large fibers or yarns have high deniers, thin yarns have low deniers.

Density

Refers to the amount of pile yarn in the carpet and the closeness of the tufts. The more densely or tightly packed the yarn is, the more luxurious the pile will feel and the better the rug will wear.

Dhurrie (Dhurie)

Inexpensive flat-woven rugs from India, usually made of wool or cotton. Type of Kilim.

Embossed

Carved pile around a design or motif that augments the look of the pattern.

Embroidery

Needle-work embellishments that decorate a fabric or textile.

F

Flat Weave

Rugs without pile or knots. Flat weave rugs are made on a loom and threaded through the warps. Kilims, Dhurries and the original Aubusson are good examples of flat woven rugs.

Foundation

An interlaced combination of warp and wefts in the rug’s body.

Fringe

Warp threads that extend beyond the end of the rug.

K

Knot

Oriental rugs are made with two basic kinds of knots, Persian Senneh and Turkish Ghiordes. Persian Senneh are complex asymmetrical knots. Turkish Ghiordes are symmetrical knot. Both knots vary with different tribal and regional traditions. (See Persian Knot and Turkish Knot for more details.)

Knot Count

Number of knots per square inch of rug.

Knotted Pile

Weaving style that involves wrapping tufts of wool or pile around the warps. They wool or pile is then tied around each individual warp strand to erect the pile at a 90 degree angle to the floor.

L

Loom

A frame or machine for interlacing at right angles two or more sets of threads or yarns to form a rug.

Loop Pile

Loop pile is a hard-wearing surface, designed to minimize tracking. Loop pile is the same as cut pile before it is trimmed.

M

Multi-Level Loop Pile

Varied heights of yarn loops that create a three dimensional effect.

N

Nap

Surface or pile of a rug.

P

Pendant

A small, floral design that extends from the top and bottom of a medallion in the center of a rug.

Persian Knot

Knot that is tied onto two warp strands, wrapped around one and looped behind the other. (See also Asymmetrical Knot.)

Pile

The surface of a rug composed of an infinite number of loops of warp threads, or else of an infinite number of free ends of either warp or of weft, or filling, threads that stand erect from the foundation. In a looped pile rug the loops are uncut; in a cut pile rug the same or similar loops are cut, either in the loom during weaving or by a special shearing tool.

Ply

Number of yarns spun together to form a tuft of pile. Measurement of the yarn’s thickness.

R

Runner

Long, narrow rug used primarily for hallways and stairways.

S

Sarouk (Serouk)

Beautiful factory woven carpets from central Iran and Iranian Azerbaijan, manufactured for export.

Soumak Weave

Complex reversible rugs that are woven with a weft-wrapping technique. Extra wefts of dyed wool are added to create a pattern, like a brocade.

Selvedge

The edge on either side of a woven rug so finished as to prevent raveling.

T

Tip Shear

Cut pile rugs where some of the loops of yarn are left uncut. This finishing style is desirable since it minimizes tracking and flattening effects.

Tone-on-Tone

Two or more tones of the same color in a rug. This look is achieved either by mixing yarns of different tones or by using the same color of yarn in a rug with both cut and looped pile.

V

Velour

Cut-pile with a velvety surface.

Verneh

Rug featuring a motif of interlocking birds.

Village Rug

Rugs made by a group of people in shifts, working around the clock. Most large tribal carpets are made in this manner.

W

Warp

Vertical strands of weave that extend through the entire length of the rug. The warps are the yarns onto which the knots are tied and the wefts are woven.

Weave

To make a rug on a loom by interlacing warp and weft threads.

Weft

Also called filling, in woven rugs, the width-wise, or horizontal, yarns carried over and under the warp, or lengthwise, yarns and running from selvage to selvage. Filling yarns are generally made with less twist than are warp yarns because they are subjected to less strain in the rug weaving process and therefore require less strength.