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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.

Glossary A – F


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.F

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.


Glossary of Terms A through F
Glossary of Terms G through M
Glossary of Terms N through S
Glossary of Terms T through Z