The following is a list of terms commonly used in the rug trade as well as my descriptions. This list is to help site visitors fully understand the descriptions creating a more accurate assessment of each rug viewed. This is a constantly evolving list.
Abrash: What appears to be stripe(s) of a muted shade running straight across from one side of the rug to the other. This is caused by a weaver subsequently using multiple batches of the same color yarn that were not equally colorfast creating an increasing visible variance as the rug ages. This is not uncommon and often appreciated in vintage and antique rugs and can be found in city, village, and nomadic rugs.
Allover Design: A background pattern of the entire field without a central focus point (i.e. medallion). Used in city, village, and nomadic rugs.
Asymmetrical: Inconsistencies in the layout and/or imagery to where the images are not consistently mirrored. Also refers to physical inconsistencies in the width and/or length.
Boteh: Common rug motif reflective of a turning leaf or flame. Often laid out in the repeating pattern or used as an accent to a larger layout. Culturally symbolic of change, fertility, and unity.
Borders: The border or series of borders placed along the edges generally encasing the central area (field) of the rug. The borders often contain a pattern and/or images.
Brackets: The sectioned areas in the inner corners of the field often containing a design complementing a central medallion and/or the pattern of the field. Also called corner brackets or field brackets.
City Rugs: Rugs handwoven in workshops on vertical looms. Generally the rugs are stationary from start to finish and are woven by multiple employees. They tend to be more in the traditional design with floral/curvilinear attributes. Workshop operations create facilities that enable large rugs to be easily produced.
Condition of Rug: Excellent, Very Good, Good, and Fair
Excellent Condition: The equivalent of an almost new rug showing no significant signs of use.
Very Good Condition: The rug has good edges and even pile but might show some age in colors and/or pile.
Good Condition: Fully usable rug with imperfection(s) in the pile, inconsistencies in colors, and/or wear on edges.
Fair Condition: Conditions showing significant wear or damages often needing extra steps in care.
Density: The firmness in the feel on the rug created by the thickness of the pile, the knots per square inch, and the tightness between the wefts and the rows of knots.
Field: The central area encased within the borders, often containing patterns, medallions, brackets, and various motifs
Fringes: The exposed ends of the warps
Floral Rug: This is a misleading term. It generally refers to a more traditional city rug with more curvilinear imagery in the vines, edges, and floral motifs. Because most geometric rugs include more tribal floral motifs, the term floral rug is misleading. I refer to the traditional floral rugs as floral curvilinear rugs.
Foundation: The warps and the wefts of the rug
Geometric Rug: A rug displaying linear edges in the imagery
Herati Pattern: A repeating image of a rosette encased in a diamond with accent motifs on the inside and outside of the diamond edges
Medallion: Larger central image(s) in the field of the rug. Can be singular or multiple. Multiple medallions are more common in geometric/tribal rugs or in traditional and tribal runners.
Motifs: Images complementing to the pattern of the rug. Includes floral, animal, human, and tribal motifs
Nap: The direction the knots of the rug are leaning. As a rug is hand knotted the knots lean toward the fringes where the rug was started. This creates a nap that allows the hand to move easier towards where the rug was started than the opposing direction.
Nomadic Rugs: Rugs woven by nomadic groups and individuals using horizontal looms that suspend the rugs over the ground. These rugs move with the people in the process of weaving enduring a challenge in maintaining a symmetrical shape and design. Asymmetrical variations are not uncommon and often make the rugs unique.
Palmette: Image of an open lotus flower often used generously in the field and borders
Panel Layout: A field design where the layout is sectioned in equal rectangular or diamond shaped panels each containing an image. Common images are a willow tree, olive branch, mosque, etc.
Persian Rug: A rug specifically woven in Iran using traditional Iranian weaving techniques. The term is over-used often mislabeling a rug from another region but generalizing the origin by calling it Persian. Because the ethnic term is used in reference to the traditional weave as well as the aesthetics, rugs that are machine-made in Iran are not considered Persian rugs. Same rule applies to other countries as well (i.e. Turkey).
Pile: The height of the rug when it is laid out on the floor. Generally between 1/8" to 1"
Rosette: A circular image reflecting a bird's eye view of a flower exposing the pedals encasing a central bud
Selvedge: The edges running along the sides of the rug perpendicular to the fringed edges
Symmetrical: Referring to either the consistent mirrored patterns in the design or consistent physical attributes (i.e rectangular, circular, etc)
Transitional: A transitional rug is a more modern design rug with some traditional images. The overall look is generally more contemporary, but there are some traditional elements
Village Rugs: Village rugs are rugs woven in villages or towns.
These tend to be done by individuals with looms in the household and also in small workshop operations. The rugs tend to have geometric traits but not lacking in floral motifs. Rugs 7 x 10 and smaller tend to be woven in the home, with small workshops creating some larger rugs.
Warps: The part of the rug foundation that generally ends in exposed fringes. The warps are tied together with knots creating the hand knotted rug
Weft: The part of the foundation going from one selvedge edge of the rug to the other separating the rows of knots that tie the warps together.
Wool-on-Wool: A rug that has a wool pile and a wool foundation
Wool-on-Cotton: A rug that has a wool pile and a cotton foundation