A Persian word meaning rainbow spectrum, used to describe changes in color in the pile or facing of rugs and textiles. Abrash resulted from the inability of dying large quantities of wool in uniform dye lots. Eventually weavers began to embrace or exploit such variation as a deliberate effect.
Antique Agra Rug
Agra A major center of carpet production in India since the great period of Mugal art in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Agra rugs represent elegant allover designs alongside medallion or centralized patterns. They have the rich pungent palette of classical Indian and Persian carpets as well as soft, cool earthy tones.
A type of design made up of smaller elements that are repeated multiply and symmetrically across the surface. Allover patterns have the potential of repeating endlessly and seem infinite, without a noticeable central focus.
A type of thick-pile, folk-art rug woven in the South of Spain near Granada, whose origins may go back to the fifteenth century. Designs are geometric, in all over repeat patterns. The pile of the rug is left in uncut loops, with fringe running around all four edges.
Antique Amritsar Rugs
A distinctive production of Indian carpets from a new, nineteenth-century initiative under British rule. Their designs responded to contemporary Persian production, but with a softer more earthy palette, often with a tendency to burgundy or aubergine tones. rnread more about Amritsar rugs from India
Angora wool A very fine soft, silky wool that comes from the belly of the sheep. Certain Oushak carpets from Turkey are made with pile that uses such wool exclusively.
A term commonly applied to early synthetic dyes of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Used to produces various shades of intense red, it faded on exposure to light into pinkish tones or a brownish shade like chop meat
A term used to designate a carpet or rug at least eighty years old. Rugs between fifty and eighty years old are deemed “semi-antique.” Rugs between thirty and fifty years are “old.” Rugs less than thirty years old are new.
One of the rug-producing Turkoman tribes of Central Asia. Arabatchi weavings are relatively rare in comparison to other Turkomans. Early pieces are highly sought after for their distinctive designs, but later ones tend to have weak synthetic colors.
A new movement in modern European decorative arts during the first third of the twentieth century. Carpets of this type include the classic Art Deco of the late twenties and thirties, as well as earlier Arts and Crafts styles like Donegals, and Nichols carpets from China. Carpets inspired by contemporary modern painters of the day constitute the most cutting-edge Deco style. read more about Art Deco rugs
A type of rug or carpet produced in North Iran, not far from the Caucasus, prized for their bold, geometric, dynamic, and abstract design. They may utilize medallion or allover designs descended from classical Persian carpets, but always translated into a much more abstract and expressive idiom reminiscent of Caucasian village rugs like Kazaks.
A nomadic, rug-producing tribe of mixed Iranian and Turkic origin ranging between Eastern Iran and western Afghanistan. Baluch weavings are often considered derivative of the rugs of the neighboring Turkomans, but they made use of a much wider design repertoire and more varied palette, which relates them to various types of Persian and Turkish rugs as well.
A sub-group of antique Ersari Turkoman weavings distinguished by their more urban designs, which show either the influence of Persian Mina Khani floral patterns or patterns based on Central Asian Ikat textiles.
A type of carpet produced in the earlier twentieth century as part of a new art school for Jewish immigrants in what was then British-ruled Palestine. The Bezalel rug workshop drew upon a wide range of Oriental rug designs, while often exploring folk art traditions from the west as well, but always adhering to a high artistic and technical standard.
A rug-producing town in the Hamadan region of Iran. Bibikabad carpets are related to Malayers in technique. They tend to come in allover designs, usually the Herati pattern or Boteh (Paisley), which may at times have a medallion as well. Even the borders on Bibikabads are based on the Boteh motif.
A town in Northwest Iran known for producing some of the finest Persian rugs by virtue of their design and technique. They cannot be identified readily by their patterns, but primarily by their weave, which is perhaps the densest and most durable of all oriental rugs. Bijar carpets were produced in a classical medallion format as well as in allover designs, with drawing that can be classically precise or wildly tribal.
A major caravan city in Central Asia whose name has come in the rug trade to designate carpets of various Turkoman manufacture that were largely exported through this city. There is, in reality, no such thing as a Bokara carpet.
The frame-like areas at the outer edges of the rug that enclose the field. Their may be multiple borders, with perhaps a main one and one or more minor borders.
A new style of carpet production emerged in Cairo in the sixteenth century under Ottoman Turkish rule. Closely related to classical Persian models, Cairene carpets have curvilinear designs of arabesque vinescrolls and palmettes organized in a medallion format, with subdued coloration.
A rug producing town in Northwest Turkey. Often lumped in with the Bergama production, Canakkales can be distinguished by their distinctive palette of soft apricots, blues, and ivory in conjunction with classically derived Turkish designs.
The manual combing of the shorn wool removes any bulk dirt and to begin the process of separating out the fibers for spinning. This cared wool is then washed. Picked cotton balls and silk cocoons are also submitted to a process of carding and washing before they are spun.
A term of Armenian origin denoting any form of woven floor covering, but usually referring to knotted pile weavings of any size. Equivalent to the English term rug, Turkish “Hali,” Turkoman, “Khali,” and Farsi “Ghali.”
A weaving aid consisting of a sketch or diagram detailing the design of a rug or carpet, or a portion of that design that can be repeated symmetrically to produce the entire design. The use of cartoons is one of the factors that distinguish the production of city rugs from village and nomadic weaving, where designs are worked out from memory or imitation of existing rugs.
While the dominant nomadic rug and textile production in Central Asia was maintained by the various Turkoman peoples, other tribal groupings were active as well such as the Khirghiz, Uzbeks, and Karakalpaks etc. These, however, are generally referred to under the heading of Central Asian Nomadic. Such production includes, woven carpets, embroidery, and carded felt.
Chinese carpets are enormously varied in design. Often related more to the tradition of silk textiles, Chinese carpets were produced in medallion as well as allover formats, but are usually more open and spacious than Oriental carpets from further west, often containing prominent pictorial elements – trees, clouds, and various animals.
A rug-producing tribe of the Central Asian Turkomans. Less common than Tekke, Yomud, or Ersari weavings, Chodor pieces are recognized by their distinctive designs and coloration.
A later generation of synthetic dyes using potassium bichromate as a mordant or fixer that became common after 1920. Chrome dyes do not run or fade, but they can be harsh and never soften or mellow with time. The ability to make large quantities in uniform tones ended the technique of color variation or abrash in hand-woven rugs.
A rug woven in a town or urban setting, generally as a commercially venture under highly organized circumstances, with set pictorial cartoons or verbal knot- counting commands.
An insect-derived dye made from the bodies of beetles, dactylopius coccus, yielding tones from bluish red to pinkish magenta. Initially discovered in the New World by the Spanish Conquistadors, its cultivation spread rapidly to the Canary Islands and Spain. Its use is attested in Ottoman Turkish documents of the eighteenth century. The active agent in cochineal is carminic acid.
A vegetable fiber derived from the cultivated cotton plant. Widely used for the foundation of rugs and textiles, but sometimes as the main material as well.
A type of rug produced in the East Caucasus, closely related to Shirvan and Kuba rugs from the same region. They tend to have small-scale allover designs utilizing multiple repetitions in fine detail, often adapted to prayer rugs by adding a simplified niche or mihrab at the top of the design.
A type of wool obtained from the hides of slaughtered animals by soaking them chemically to remove the fibers. This process destroys the natural luster and durability of the wool, and rugs made from it are always cheap, inferior products.
The ratio of knots, wefts and warps within a given area of rug surface. The more of these elements, the denser or “tighter” the weave. Smaller knots and finer yarns increase density, but it is also achieved by packing all the elements more tightly, and/or by utilizing depressed warps.
A type of wefting pulled tightly from either side that displaces the warps through which it passes into two levels, one upper, one lower. On the back of the rug, this bi-level structure will appear to have a ribbed or corrugated surface with an upper warp and a lower or “depressed” warp. In cases were the wefts are pulled absolutely tight, the depressed warps may not even show on the back of the rug in high traffic areas.
The particular patterning of a rug or textile involving a host of factors or elements the motifs and their arrangement, symmetry, and coloration. The term design may also refer to a specific type of pattern.
Produced in Donegal, Northwest Ireland during the later nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, represent the Irish contribution to the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau Movements. They may have a contemporary Art Nouveau emphasis, or, alternatively they may look back to the great past of early medieval Irish art, or they could combine both these trends.
The particular rendering of form and line in the weaving of the actual design. Drawing can be precise and mechanical or losses and spontaneous.
A material of vegetal or synthetic chemical derivation used to impart color to the vegetable or animal fibers that are woven. Most dyes require an additional mordant or fixing agent to make them fast in water and light.
A term used to distinguish exceptionally old rugs from the general label “antique,” denoting rugs and textiles that are at least eighty years old. The term “early” signifies that early from the early nineteenth century or before, what is regarded by collectors as a “pre-commercial” period.
A Turkoman rug producing tribe known for its bold and colorful carpets and trappings. Ersari weavings are coarse by comparison to other Turkoman rugs, but they have a bold power that makes them stand apart. In the course of the twentieth century their weaving tradition provided the foundation for Afghan tribal rug production.
Farahan Carpets and rugs produced in the Arak region of west central Iran. Those with a medallion design are called Sarouk- Farahans. Often they come close to the angular drawing of Herizes and Serapis, but a much finer scale appropriate to designs of classical derivation.
The portion of the rug containing the main design components, usually surrounded by one or more framing borders.
Also known as “Old Cairo,” Fostat was the site of a rubbish dump for the first few centuries after the foundation of the newer city of Cairo. This dump has produced fragments of some of the earliest known Islamic carpets, which were collected and published by the Swedish scholar C.J. Lamm.
The supporting portion of the rug into which the patterned fibers or yarns are woven. In pile carpets and soumaks, this consists of the warps and wefts. In tapestry or kilim the foundation is the warps alone.
A synthetic dye introduce from Europe in the 1860’s. It was used to produce a bright magenta purple color, but it faded radically when exposed to light, sometimes to an ash grey or white color.
A type of tribal Persian rugs made with extra high pile and very simple, graphic designs focused on the use of color, which can be vibrant or soft and earthy. As pieces made for domestic use rather than commercial value in the marketplace, Gabbehs have a cultural authenticity that renders them highly desirable to collectors.
Ganjeh rugs from the south Caucasus are prized for their glorious color and large-scale graphic designs, much like the Kazak rugs from the same region. Unlike Kazaks, however, Ganjehs have allover rather than medallion patterns, often with dynamic diagonal patterns of stripes or bands filled with tiny embellishment or detail.
A type of rug from Northwest Turkey known especially for high quality prayer rugs of early date with exceptionally precise, fine drawing and delicate coloration. Later Ghiordes production focused as well on room-sized rugs. The later are closely related to Oushaks in design and coloration, although some retain the fine drawing and design of the early Ghiordes prayer rugs.
A type of early Turkish carpet named for the Italian Renaissance painter Domenico Ghirlandaio, in whose paintings such carpets appear. They are typified by large segmented or multifaceted medallions adapted from on Islamic Muqarnas designs.
Guards or guard stripes are very narrow border-like bands, usually consisting of geometric elements, which frame or accent a border or field.
A Persian word meaning ‘flower’ used to designate the small medallions arranged in rows as allover repeat patterns in Turkoman and Persian rugs. In Turkoman rugs, there were various types of guls that typified the weavings of different tribes or sub-groups.
A term used to denote a very high grade of Persian carpet produced in Tabriz in the late nineteenth century. Hajji Jalili was presumably the master responsible for these rugs, but no piece with his name can be identified.
Hamadan rugs generally produced in scatter sizes drew extensively upon the tribalweaving traditions of Iran. Initially an offshoot of Kurdish village weaving in the same area, Hamadans became one of the most widely exported types of small Persian rug in the earlier twentieth century because they encompassed such a wide range of tribal designs and decorative effects.
The heddle is a thin bar or wood serving as an armature for a series of loops that wrap around alternate warps on the loom. By pulling evenly on the heddle it is possible to reverse the over-under orientation of the warps and to separate them so that successive passes of wefting may be run through quickly, easily, and in an alternating over-under weave.
A type of mostly room-size carpet from Northwest Iran distinguished by its monumental floral designs and the expressive power of its angular drawing. They tend to have strong medallion designs accented through the use of rich color, but allover Herizes are not uncommon. Where other Persian carpets would utilize a curved form, Herizes will apply series of angular twists and turns, imparting an emphatic geometry to the design.
A group of early Turkish carpets named for the Northern Renaissance painter Hans Holbein the Younger, in whose paintings such carpets appear. Highly abstract of geometric in design, there are two main variants a so-called ‘small pattern Holbein, and a ‘large pattern’ variant as well.
A type of folk art floor covering indigenous to the Northeast of the United States and Maritime Canada. Their production began in the 1840’s, gradually spreading all across North America as a cottage industry by 1900.
A type of loom used in rug weaving which is arranged parallel to the ground and relatively close to it, requiring the weaver to kneel when working. The use of horizontal looms is customary for nomadic weavers, since it can be set up, dismantled, and transported easily.
The Mongol dynasty that came to power in Iraq and Persia in the later thirteenth century. No actual rugs of this period are known, but they are represented in various Islamic and Chinese paintings.
A form of machine loomed, flatwoven, reversible carpet that became popular in the nineteenth century. Adapted from the initial production that began in Kidderminster, England, Ingrain carpets remained popular until pile carpets became more available and affordable in the later nineteenth century. Designs were generally made in bold, richly colored reciprocal geometric patterns. Their production largely disappeared after 1920.
In Ireland and Scotland the Arts and Crafts Movement gradually came to focus on native Celtic traditions from the Middle Ages, and eventually elements from the Art Nouveau movement in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Irish Arts and crafts carpets tended to exhibit a fascinating blend of Celtic and oriental carpet designs. The Donegal type tended especially to include Art Nouveau elements as well.
The production of Isfahan may go back to Safavid times in the seventeenth century when Isfahan was the capital of Persia, since many of the court quality carpets of this period that survive today have been attributed to Isfahan. Nineteenth and early twentieth century antique Isfahan rugs continued the style and consummate technical virtuosity of their classical forerunners, although often with a softer, more decorative palette.
A pile technique using symmetrical or asymmetrical knots but utilizing these configurations around pairs of warps rather than single warps, making the pile less dense and quicker to produce.
Karabagh rugs from the area of Armenia have one of the oldest and most varied design traditions of any antique Caucasian rugs. Many are descended from the classical Caucasian carpets of the eighteenth century. Others are more closely related to Kazaks, with large medallion patterns and a more tribal sensibility.
A type of rug produced in Eastern Turkey distinguished by a design with large, geometricized medallions and angular cornerpieces, a pattern traceable to Turkish village weaving of the seventeenth century and earlier.
Kashan was a center of silk production since Safavid times and some of the best classical Persian silk rugs have been attributed to Kashan. At the end of the nineteenth century the weavers there began to produce high quality wool rugs and carpets as well, which continued the high standards of design and technique established in the classical era. The very best Kashan carpets are known as Mohtashem
Kazak rugs from the South Caucasus are famed for their rich colors, assertive, geometric drawing, and bold, large-scale designs, they are sought after by collectors for their rugged authenticity. While Kazak carpets may have allover patterns, they are best known for their monumental and graphic medallion compositions, especially the Sevan and Karachopf types.
Kerman A major center for the production of high-quality Persian carpets since the seventeenth century. When Persian rug production moved into high gear in the later nineteenth century, Kerman once again emerged as a producer of the finest carpets in the best Persian tradition. Kerman carpets are known for the fineness of their weave and for their elegantly drawn designs of classical derivation, both in allover and central medallion formats.
The region of Khorassan in northeastern Persia has been famed for fine rugs going back to Timurid times in the late middle ages. In the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries Khorassan became a center for the production of high quality room-sized carpets, although many of these are sometimes known by more specific designations such as Mashad or Doroksh.
Khotan are the most outstanding among rugs and carpets of East Turkestan. While the main design elements, details, and drawing appear generally Chinese, the composition with central medallions or allover small medallions in rows relates more to Persian, Turkish, and Turkoman rugs from further west, as does their rich coloration.
Kilim is the Turkish word for any form of simple weft-faced tapestry. A flatwoven tapestry rug. The most well-known Kilims are those of Turkey or Anatolia, which are varied in type and effect, but Caucasian and Persian Kilims are also appreciated nowadays for their color and high technical skill.
Kirshehir rugs, produced in central Turkey, are valued for their rich color, excellent wool, and the geometric vitality of their drawing. Kirshehir weavers are most well known for their prayer rugs, but they also produced a a distinctive form of long rug or runner.
One of the rug-producing tribes of the Central; Asian Turkomans. Often mistaken as Ersari weavings, they tend to be finer and more precise in their drawing.
or various configuration wrapped around adjacent warps to produce the surface pile of a rug. Spanish rugs are the only pile pieces that have real tied knots.
Konya rugs produced from an early period in Central Turkey, famed for their magnificent color, geometric designs, and unfettered bold tribal drawing. They are the Turkish counterparts to Caucasian Kazaks, and they are no less sought after by collectors, although they are generally older and far rarer.
Kuba rugs ares probably the finest and most tightly woven rugs from the Caucasus. Closely related to Shirvans and Dagestans, they are distinguished by a dense, ribbed structure and higher knot count. While medallion compositions do appear on Kubas, they are best known for their meticulous allover patterns of small, carefully worked motifs.
A form of angular calligraphic Islamic script named for the city of Kufa in Mesopotamia. Such script became a prominent form of border decoration in Islamic decorative arts of all sorts, including textiles and carpets. Kufic borders were especially widespread in early Turkish carpets and those of Ilkhanid and Timurid Iran, surviving into later Turkish and Caucasian carpets as well.
A rug-producing town in Western Turkey known for finely woven pieces with medallion designs of classical Turkish derivation. Kula products are sometimes difficult to distinguish from the rugs of nearby Demirci.
Kurdish rugs are closely related Northwest Persian and Caucasian village weavings, but they may be distinguished by their exceptional sense of design and fine color. Many of those produced in the Sauj Bulagh region are extremely early, possibly dating before 1800. Kurdish rugs were produced in medallion patterns and more commonly in allover designs, either floral, Mina Khani patterns, or geometric, like the so-called “Jaff” type.
An insect derived dye made from the beetle coccus laccae, yielding a bluish red tone. It was widely used in classic early carpets from India, Persia, and Turkey up through the seventeenth century, but was eventually displaced by the insect dye cochineal. Its active ingredient kermesic acid is less potent than the carminic acid of the insect dye cochineal.
A town in Central Turkey known especially for its antique prayer rugs with a distinctive arch or mihrab and a panel of vertical stylized tulips.
A rigid framework used for weaving a rug or textile. Rug looms may be either vertical or horizontal.
A technique for making pile carpets in which the adjacent knots are left continuous as a series of loops instead of being clipped to a uniform brush-like surface. Lopped pile as used in late Roman rugs in Egypt and in Alpujarra rugs from Spain.
A group of early Turkish carpets named for the Italian Renaissance painter Lorenzo Lotto in whose paintings they appear. Lotto carpets generally feature a highly abstract arabesque allover pattern set against a red ground.
Luri rugs produced by the Lurs of the Zagros Mountains in western Iran, are among the most impressive tribal Persian weavings. Utilizing a primarily geometric repertory along with highly stylized animal forms arranged as allover patterns, Luri rugs rely extensively on the effects of rich color to heighten the dynamic vitality of the designs.
The production of Mahal carpets only began in the Arak region in the later nineteenth century. They are characterized by a large-scale curvilinear vinescroll based upon classical Persian forerunners, but rendered in a somewhat more stylized, geometric and robust drawing, somewhat like Herizes. The finest grade Mahals have come to be known in the rug trade as Sultanabads.
The antique rugs of Makri in Southwestern Turkey are distinguished by their elongated hexagonal niche-like field, often rendered in pairs or double columns, and by their brilliant palette of reds blues, yellows, and ivory.
Malayer Rugs from the Malayer region stand between those made in nearby Senneh and Hamadan. They were produced in a range of medallion and allover designs which, although they come from classical Persian sources, tend to be somewhat abstract or geometricized in their rendering. Malayer carpet designs can utilize small-scale and fine forms like the Herati pattern, but they also make clever, empty space.
The Mamluk Dynasty, originally “slave-soldiers” of Turkic descent, came to power in Egypt in the mid thirteenth century. By the fifteenth century they had established a thriving carpet industry in their capital, Cairo. The designs of mamluk carpets are quite complex, consisting of large medallions made up of intersecting compartments of various forms adapted from the great tradition of Islamic geometric ornament.
Medallion A type of design that focuses on a central motif or medallion or a series of these arranged concentrically. Often the medallion will be complemented by four quarter medallions or cornerpieces at the four corners of the field.
Antique Melas rugs from southwestern Turkey are famed particularly for their classic red- ground prayer rugs with simple niches or mihrabs, Melas weavers also produced long rugs with geometric patterns. The Melas repertoire is mostly floral, although it is often so abstracted that this aspect is no longer immediately apparent.
A stepped medallion with hooked embellishments usually arranged as an allover repeat design. Memling guls are well known in Turkish carpets from an early period, but they became establish in Moghan carpets of the Caucasus as well. They are named for the Northern Renaissance painter Hans Memling, in whose paintings such carpets appear.
Millefleurs tapestries of Kashmir in Northern India are among the finest virtuoso textiles produced in the Orient. Modeled on designs from the Millefleurs or “thousand flower” Pashmina wool rugs of the Mogul period, these textiles utilize a dazzling array of small floral forms delicately detailed in almost microscopic form.
A term used to distinguish the earliest and finest of the late nineteenth century Persian carpets produced in Kashan. It is named for the firm or family who initiated this production. The only two carpets inscribed with the name are silk.
Mongolian carpets have a transparent composition utilizing see-through motifs against a uniform ground, in keeping with Chinese rug design. The motifs themselves are generally Chinese – meanders, knotwork, and fretted medallions – with an taste for open spaces. Colors are soft and earthy with emphasis on subtle mixing of tones or variegation.
A technical term for the chemical additives that fix dyes or render them fast when exposed to water or light. Mordants tend to be made of metallic oxides of varying type. Different mordants may be applied to the same vegetable or insect dues to achieve different shade of color.
Moroccan rugs are notable for their dynamic colorful designs and strong geometric structure. None are datable to before the mid nineteenth century, when their production began as an adaptation of central and western Turkish rugs, whose repertoire Moroccan rugs followed closely.
A dynasty of Central Asian Turkic origin that came to power in India in 1526. Carpet weaving flourished under the Mugals from the late sixteenth to early eighteenth centuries. The so-called Indo-Isfahan types relate closely to contemporary Safavid Persian rug production, while those produced in Agra or farther south in the Deccan, have a distinctive Indian style, with highly naturalistic, almost tropical plants and flowers and a rich palette of deep reds, greens, and yellows.
Needlepoint embroidery technique was a medium used in Renaissance Europe to produce copies of rare and precious knotted carpets from the Middle East.. From the eighteenth century on, English needlepoint competed as well with contemporary French petit-point embroidery working in a Neo-Classical idiom related to the designs of Aubusson tapestry. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, English needlepoint began to focus more on designs drawn form the Arts and Crafts Movement.
A term used to distinguish a rug less than thirty years old.
Ningshia rugs tend to be among the most reserved and formal rn Chinese rugs. Their composition is classically Chinese – open, balanced, and stately with dragon, cloudband, and fretwork motifs. Because of their fine technique, restraint and classic character, rn Ningshia carpets have often been held to products of imperial Chinese workshops.
A rug woven by nomadic peoples on a portable horizontal loom. Such weaving comprises not only floor rugs, but also various types of tent equipment – door or entrance decorations, and a variety of storage bags. While primarily or initially produced for practical local consumption, nomadic weavings were also made for commercial export. Also see tribal rug.
Northwest Persian Rug
The term Northwest was coined to denote highly interesting and possibly early antique pieces that were clearly made in Northwest Persia, but whose production cannot be located more closely. Irn t is used especially for smaller rugs of a tribal or village nature exhibiting ties to Caucasian and Kurdish weaving traditions, as well as to North Iranian weavings like those from Bakshaish, Serab, Heriz, Karadja etc., rn but which nevertheless are distinctive and stand apart.
A term used to distinguish a rug between thirty and fifty years old.
Any rug that is made in Asia.
A dynasty of Oguz Turks or Turkomans from western Turkey who came to power first in the Balkans and then across all Turkey and much of the Middle East between the later fourteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Most of the earliest surviving Islamic carpets were made under Ottoman patronage. With the exception of the Seljuk group, virtually all Turkish carpets may readily be described as ‘Ottoman.’
Needlework embroideries produced in the Ottoman Empire between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries are attributed largely to the west coast of Anatolia, to the Aegean Islands, and the Greek mainland. These embroideries exemplify the many traditions – both Turkish and European – that went into the making of Ottoman art.
Oushak in western Turkey has been a major center of rug production almost from the very begining of the Ottoman period. Many of the great masterpieces of early Turkish carpet weaving from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries have been attributed to Oushak. In the later nineteenth century Oushak re-emerged as a major center, this time for room-size decorative carpets with central medallion designs as well as patterns of smaller allover medallions or scattered sprays of vinescroll and palmettes.
The term ‘Paramamluk’ was coined by the rug scholar Charles Ellis to distinguish a variant of the Mamluk production that utilized allover patterns of smaller concentric hexagons, octagons, and squares the so-called “Chessboard carpets.” These have been attributed to Damascus, a major center in the Syrian portion of the Mamluk realm. At the time they were produced, however, this region was already under Ottoman rule.
A type of fine slky wool that comes from the soft downy layer closest to the skin of the animal. Calssical Mugal carpets are famed for the use of such wool.
A findspot in the Altai mountains of Siberia where a frozen tomb was discovered containing the worlds oldest complete carpet, dating from 400 to 300 B.C.
Peking carpets represent a newer antique production that began in China immediately following World War I, when carpet manufacturing moved from Ningshia and other interior centers to the capital. Peking carpets were now made in larger sizes intended to be more usable as decorative room-size rugs in the Europe and the United States.
The thick body or surface of a knotted pile carpet usually trimmed to a uniform length, but sometimes left long and shaggy.
Pile or Knotted Carpets
Rugs produced by looping short lengths of yarn around successive pairs of warps in horizontal rows, and letting the excess wool hang downward in a shaggy mass. The shaggy ends of the knots may be trimmed as the carpet is being woven, or after it has been completed. This trimming creates the surface of the pile
Plying Fibers used in carpets and textiles may be plied by taking two or more spun yarns and spinning them yet again into a still thicker yarn. Plying must be spun in the opposite direction in which the component yarns are spun, e.g. S-spun yarns may be plied with a Z-spin and vice versa. See yarn.
Polonaise carpets are among the most elegant and lavish of the court productions made under the Safavid dynasty in Iran during the seventeenth century. Large numbers of such arpets were exported to. Some were even custom made with the heraldic devices of specific Polish Polonaise Rugnoble families, which led to the erroneous opinion that these carpets were actually made in Poland. Their soft golden coloration and additional detail in gold and silver thread make the Polonaise carpet a masterpiece of bygone grandeur.
Prayer Rugs Technically any small carpet or rug can be used for prayer, so all such rugs are potentially prayer rugs. What distinguishes a prayer rug in terms of design is the use of an arched doorway, niche or “mihrab” as an organizing compositional theme or motif. This mihrab replicates the “qibla “or niche in the main wall of a mosque, which enables the faithful to orient themselves toward Mecca when in engaged in prayer or “namaz.”
A dynasty of Turkic origin that came to power in Persia in the early nineteenth century. Although their art reflected the tide of western influence in costume and elite décor, much the same a s contemporary late Ottoman art in Turkey, the Qajars also fostered a program of cultural revival that encouraged traditional crafts like rug production. They were largely responsible for the great revival of Persian rug production in the later nineteenth century, in conjunction with a renewed western demand for carpets.
Qashghai”i Rugs and bags or trappings woven by the Qashghai”i nomads of the Zagros Mountain region in southwest Iran. Like the rugs of the nearby Afshar and Bakhtiari tribes, Qasghai”i pieces tend to have geometric designs with stylized animals and human figures. They are prized for their fine weave and rich colors.
A four-armed or literally “four-leaved” medallion common in Islamic ornament and rug or textile design.
A type of repair in which damaged, lost, or worn portions of the pile are replaced into the foundation by sewing or hooking in new yarns and trimming them to the original surface and texture.
A dynasty founded by Shah Ismail in 1501 which lasted until the early eighteenth century. Under the Safavids the Oriental carpet reached its apogee of technical; and artistic sophistication. Safavid rugs relied overwhelmingly on the sinuous patterns or arabesques developed initially in manuscript illumination and architectural décor.
The oldest and most distinguished of the rug-producing Turkoman tribes of central Asia. Distinguished by their exceptional color and design, Salor pieces are generally the finest, oldest, and most prized of all Turkoman weavings.
The most interesting and complex elaboration of the prayer rug format is the multiple-niche payer rug or “Saph.” At first glance Saphs look like runners, at least in terms of their long proportions. But unlike runners, where the design is longitudinal, emphasizing the length of the runner, Saphs are oriented toward the edges, rather than the ends. Their décor consists of niches running form one long edge to the other and placed side by side in serial repetition. Practically, they appear to function as a series of prayer rugs connected side to side for three or more worshipers to use simultaneously or communally.
Sarouk rugs were produced in the Arak region, not far from where Fereghans and Sultanabads were made. Some of the early examples were so closely related to Fereghans that they have been designated as Sarouk-Fereghans. While the latter tend to have medallion designs, Sarouk carpets from about 1900 onward were mostly produced in an allover format, with dense sprays or bouquets of flowers and vines arrayed across the carpet symmetrically, on a deep blue or burgundy ground. This latter type is known soft, velvety wool and fairly thick pile.
A rug-producing Turkoman tribe. Saryk weavings are rarer than those of other Turkoman groups like the Tekke, Yomud, or Ersari, but they still constitute an important and distinctive component of the wider body of antique Turkoman rugs and trappings.
Savonnerie Like Aubusson tapestry rugs, Savonnerie carpets originated in France when, for a time, European taste turned away from Oriental carpets. Named for nearby factories that produced soap or “savon,” Savonnerie rugs shared with Aubussons a Neo-Classical taste for naturalistic flowers and swags or garlands in soft colors on a dominant ivory field, except that they were made in knotted pile rather than tapestry technique.
The Scandinavian region became an area of rug production in Europe at a relatively early period when the knotted pile carpet was introduced from Ottoman Turkey. Scandinavians began to produce rugs for themselves, inspired initially by the imported products, and developing gradually into a distinctive northern idiom. Flatwoven tapestry rugs or coverlets became an established type, especially in Sweden, where they came to be known as “Rollakan.” Pile rugs or Ryiji (Rya), often with a long shaggy nap were produced in Norway and and Sweden, and above all Finland.
A dynasty of Oguz Turkish warriors from Central Asia whose rose to power across the middle East in the eleventh century, first conquering Persia and Mesopotamia, and then Byzantine Anatolia, which was then called Turkey after them. The earliest extant Anatolian Turkish rugs, presumably woven under their patronage in the thirteenth century are designated as “Seljuk.”
The spiral wool wrapping that protects the sides of the rug.
Senneh carpets, produced in Northwest Iran, come in a range allover and medallion patterns, and consequently it is their weave rather than their design that sets them apart. But whatever their design, Senneh rugs and carpets always display a precise, crisp somewhat geometric drawing that corresponds to the precision of the weave. Certain of the more robust, tribal-looking antique Sennehs were probabl;y woven by Kurds.
Tabriz carpets from Northwest Persia are distinguished by their excellent weave and by their remarkable adherence to the classical traditions of Persian rug design, but they cannot be distinguished by any particular pattern or by their coloration. Tabriz rugs offer classical medallion designs and a host of allover patterns as well in every color imaginable, frTabriz Rugom brilliant rich tones to soft pastels.
A flatwoven textile comprised of vertical warp fibers completely covered by closely packed weft facing.
Tehran only became a center of antique rug production after the great revival of Persian weaving was underway in the late nineteenth century. But soon it came to establish a high standard in making carpets with designs of classical Persian derivation, on a par with other centers like Tabriz or Kashan.
One of the most powerful and leading rug-producing Turkoman tribes of Central Asia. Antique Tekke carpets and trappings are prized for the quality and variety of their design and weave. After the Russian conquest, they became the leaders of the Turkoman export production.
Tibetan Like the antique rugs of East Turkestan, those made in Tibet are largely based upon a weaving tradition and design repertoire from China. Many motifs are of Chinese origin – dragons, cloudbands, floral and lattice patterns etc. But there are distinctive Tibetan designs like the tiger pelt or tiger masks, or pictorial elements of Buddhist origin, and their color is much richer than that of Chinese carpets.
A sub-group of the antique weavings produced by nomadic Baluch tribes in the region of Western Afghanistan. The best and earliest Timuri rugs, especially their main carpets, are distinguished by the precision and complexity of their designs, often derived from classical Persian prototypes, and by the depth and range of their color.
A dynasty of Chagagatai Turks from Central Asia who came to power across much of the Middle East under their founder Timur in the late fourteenth century. Great patrons of the arts, they extensively fostered the production of the earliest Persian carpets known. Although only one fragment of such a rug survives, there are many depictions of such rugs in Timurid illuminated manuscripts.
A rug produced as part of an established cultural tradition of design and technique, either by sedentary tribal groups (village rugs) or by wandering, tent-dwelling peoples (nomadic rug). While motivated by practical domestic needs, tribal rugs of either type were also produced for commercial export or sale.
Ukrainian Pile carpets produced in the Ukraine are related to the Savonnerie carpets of Western Europe, utilizing the same Rococco or Neo-classical tradition of design. Nevertheless, they have a strong local flavor derived from Ukrainian folk art tradition, which emerges in certain floral details and in the darker, richer coloration.
Uzbek embroideries are among the boldest and most exciting examples of this technique from Central Asia. Produced in and around the city of Tashkent, Uzbek embroideries often have vibrant color, enhanced by the use of silk thread in addition to wool. Designs are often large circular medallions or star patterns, floral patterns derived from Persian embroidery.
A type of loom used in rug weaving that stands erect, allowing the weaver to sit on a chair or bench while working. Vertical looms are typical of urban and village weaving production.
A rug woven in a small town or village, generally as part of a domestic family operation, a so-called “cottage industry.” Such rugs are made for local consumption or for commercial export. Also see tribal rug.
The Wagireh or sampler rug is a template or pattern for the design and production of larger carpets. The size of a scatter rug or mat , they do not show the entire design, but only the basic or fundamental portion of the various larger decorative elements of the field and borders, along with selected individual motifs, which could then be expanded according to established symmetrical repetitions to produce the complete composition.
The vertical yarns or fibers strung on the loom and comprising the foundation of a rug or textile.
Made in East Turkestan,. Yarkand carpets relate less to Chinese weaving and more to the Islamic world from further West. They often have tree-of-life and pomegranate designs derived from Iran and West Turkestan, or they may utilize mihrab niche patterns for making prayer rugs in the Muslim tradition, sometimes even as multiple niche prayer rugs or saphs.
A spun or plied cluster of fibers that can be utilized as warps, wefts, or pile, etc. Yarns may be S-spun (clockwise) or Z-spun (counterclockwise).
Yastik pillow or bolster covers – are the most desirable of small Turkish rugs, eagerly sought after by collectors because of their miniature adaptations of many classical Anatolian designs. Yastiks occur all across Turkey; virtually every type of Turkish rug production includes the Yastik format.
Halfway between Isfahan and Kerman, Yazd became heir to the great traditionsition of classical Persian rug production. Antique Yazds are finely woven, often in allover symmetrical patterns of delicate floral sprays comparable to those on Kermans or Kashans. Their coloration can be deep and rich, but soft reds, rusts, and saffron tones impart a luminous quality to the overall effect.
One of the leading rug-producing Turkoman tribes of Central Asia, second only to the Tekke. Though less finely woven, Yomud Turkoman weavings are more robust and expressive in their design, with more pattern variation as well, especially in their main carpets.
Yuruk rugs exemplify the great nomadic tradition of Turkish carpet weaving (Yuruk means nomad in Turkish). Produced in Eastern Anatolia, at times they appear closely related to the rugs of the nearby Caucasus. But for the most part Yuruk rugs derive from much earlier Turkish weavings from further west, like those of Bergama and Oushak, but with a darker coloration.
A highly distinctive village weaving from the South. Zakatalas seem to have connections with the rugs from a number of different areas of the Caucasus. As a result, their designs are quite varied; some have medallions, others have allover designs, and still others are somewhere in between. But whatever the design, their approach to form and color is always unmistakable.