Oriental Area Rugs – A Glossary Of Terms

Knowing how to speak about an oriental area rug starts with acquiring a vocabulary of the relevant terms.

Want to impress the experts when buying an Oriental area rug? Learning these eight basic terms will give purchases the vocabulary you need to talk about a carpet like a connoisseur.

Oriental Carpets – The Relevant Terms

The Loom: Carpet weaving starts with a loom. These can be very simple in construction, as used by the weavers of nomadic tribes. Carpet weavers affix long poles to the floor, at a distance apart of the desired length of the finished rug.

The Warp: The warp is the yarn stung taut between the two poles of the loom.

The Weft: Weavers pass weft threads cross wise through the war threads in an alternating pattern, to create the basic under structure of the carpet.

Selvage: According to Jacques Anquetil, the selvage is a strip on the lower border of the carpet “against which the weft is secured…typically, the selvage will feature decorative motifs.”

The Knot: With certain exceptions, oriental carpets are made with only two types of knots: The Turkish, or symmetrical, knot; and the Persian, or asymmetrical, knot. These knots are generally but not exclusively associated with carpets produced in the regions they are named after.

Pile: Weavers trim the tuft ends of knots to create the oriental carpet’s pile. As Jacques Anquetil notes, this happens “once the carpet is finished but before it is removed from the loom.”

Abrash: London-based oriental carpet dealer, Essie Sakhai, writes that, “abrash…mottled or striped patches of a single colour is highly prized by many connoisseurs for the vitality it brings to normally monotone carpets.”

Kilims: A hand-woven rug in its most basic form, a kilim is a flat weave carpet consisting of the warp and weft, but without any knots attached. In the words of Jacques Anquetil, a kilim’s “surface texture becomes increasingly delicate in direct proportion to the number of warp threads and their proximity to one another.

The Fringe: When an either knotted or pileless carpet is finished, warped strings at either end of the loom are cut, creating a fringe. Depending on the region where it is produced, weavers can incorporate further decorative elements into the fringe, such as knots.