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area rugs

area rug glossary

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Abrash (Arbrush)

Color variations in a field of color on an area rug that may or may not be intentional. Can be the result of using yarn from different dye batches or from using yarn that is thicker in some areas than others (common when using hand spun yarn).


A type of synthetic fiber that is most commonly used in the making of machine–made area rugs. Acrylic fibers are meant to resemble wool at a fraction of the price.

All Over Design

A repeating pattern or a design that covers the entire area rug without the use of a border or central medallion.


A treatment that can be applied to rugs to help reduce the build–up and transfer of static electricity.

Antique Wash

An effect given to area rugs using a chemical washing technique that results in an antique looking rug.


A rug design that involves patterns of flowers and vines which intertwine with each other.


(see Abrash)

Art Deco

A style of interior decor that is common on area rugs used today. Art deco was originally popular from 1925–1940 and features bold, geometric designs.

Art Silk

Art silk stands for artificial silk which can be made of cotton, polyester, or rayon. Art silk rugs are often passed off as real silk though they are much lower quality. Art silk can yellow over time and has no resale value. (See Burn Tests for more.)

Asymmetrical Knot

An asymmetrical knot is one that has yarn knotted around only one of the two warps. A Persian Knot is considered asymmetrical.

Aubusson (Aubuson)

A rug style that began in the 1500's in France as flat–weave rugs often with a floral centerpiece created using pastel colors. Popular styles that evolved from Aubussion patterns including the Antoinette, Maison, and Josephine.

Axminister Loom

The Axminister Loom originated during the industrial revolution in Axminister, England. This machine is used to make rugs that allow the maker to incorporate up to 70 different colors, creating complex designs and patterns.

Axminster Rug

Rugs made by the Axminister Loom which can incorporate up to 70 different colors and complex designs.

Background Color

This is the base color, or color behind the focal points, borders, and other designs on an area rug.

Backing (Area Rug)

The material that yarn is attached to when making an area rug.

Bamboo Rugs

Rugs made from fibers or strands of bamboo woven together or wipe strips of bamboo aligned to look similar to hardwood or bamboo floors.


A type of detailed and sophisticated kilim that originated in Ukraine and generally features arched floral designs.


A type of rug design available in limited quantities that the Bidjar region of Iranian Azerbaijan became famous for. These rugs are guaranteed to last over 300 years and have therefore gained the title "Iron Rugs of Persia".

Bleeding (Area Rug)

When the color from area rug fiber dyes or from another fabric comes in contact with water and transfers its dye to other fibers.


A rug or carpet that is made of more than one type of fiber blended together.

Border Rug

An area rug that features an outside border that is a different design or type of carpet from the carpet in the center of the rug.


The first style of paisley which is a common motif on many traditional oriental rugs. This motif features what is believed to resemble cypress trees, pine cones, or the flame of Zoroaster.


A heavy pile made of loops.

Braided Area Rug

Braided area rugs can be made by hand or by machine. Long strands of natural or synthetic yarn are braided to make one or several long braids. These braids are then coiled around themselves or each other again and again. The more coils, the larger the rug becomes. The edges of the coils are then stitched to the adjoining coils in order to hold them in place.


Area rug embellishments featured on some kilim rugs that are made using a floating horizontal weave.


aka: Bokhara, Bocarra

Bukhara is the capitol of Uzbekistan (a large trading central for tribal Turkish rugs). Rugs that are identified as Bukharas are often made in Pakistan and feature repeating rows of guls or motifs.

Burn Test

This test is often used to determine real silk from art silk. If you are suspicious about the authenticity of a silk rug, ask to have a small fiber from the fringe of the rug if possible. If you burn the fiber and it smells like burning hair, it is probably a real silk rug. If it smells like paper or anything else, it is probably an art silk rug.


aka: Combing

Method of pulling wool fibers through two paddles with spikes attached in order to smooth and arrange them for spinning.


A template which is used to layout the design for the knotting of an area rug.


An element of design used in some area rugs which incorporates a date or other inscriptions.


A fabric commonly used in area rugs that features a thick, luxurious pile.

Chrome Dyes

Chrome dyes are one of the most used synthetic dyes today with over 600 colors to choose from.


Elaborate court area rug designs that originated toward the end of the 19th century. (see also Aubusson).


Swirling band of clouds often seen in Chinese or Persian area rug designs.

Color (Area Rug)

An important design element in area rugs. Colors are created using synthetic or natural area rug dyes.


See carding


A catch–all phrase for rug designs that are considered modern rather than traditional.


Cotton is a popular natural fiber that is used to make rugs of a variety of colors and patterns. It is soft to the touch but wears quicker than wool.


Rugs that are constructed using the Wilton loom which weaves side to side instead of top to bottom. These rugs have fringed edges rather than smooth finished edges and often feature delicate patterns made of several colors.

Denier (Area rug)

A measurement of the thickness of yarn used to make an area rug. Denier is measured by the mass (in grams) of 9,000 meters of yarn. Thick yarn has a higher denier than thin yarn.

Dhurrie (Dhurie)

Low–priced cotton or wool rugs or kilims that are made in India.


A symbolic Chinese motif that is thought to bring good fortune.


A man–made yarn that looks and feels very similar to cotton and has been enhanced using ultraviolet inhibitors and anti–microbial applications to prevent damage from outdoor use.

Embossed (Area Rug)

A decorative element where areas of the pile are carved to create multi–dimension designs.


Decorative needle–work embellishments that can be used on many different textiles including area rugs.

Faux Silk

See Art Silk


The plain center or background on an area rug's design.

Flat Weave

These area rugs do not have a pile or knots. Flat weave rugs can be machine made or hand woven. Although they are not as comfortable underfoot as those with a pile, you can usually see the pattern on both sides of the rug therefore they are often reversible. Aubussion, Kilims, and Dhurries are all flat weave rugs.


A flattening condition that can occur to the pile of an area rug due to heavy foot traffic.


Shaggy, hand–woven wool rugs made in Greece that are very comfortable underfoot. Flokati rugs generally weigh between 1400–4000 grams per square meter. The higher the weight per square meter, the thicker and more luxurious the rug is.


The piece on a loom that a spool of yarn is held by. There can be several frames on a loom and each frame generally holds one color of yarn.


Decorative threads that hang off the ends of some area rugs.


A rug with a thick, fluffy pile that usually features pastoral scenes in simple colors. Though these rugs have only been available commercially in the last 20 or so years, they were used in the past by nomads as mattresses.


(see Kilim)


The color used in the background of a pattern or design on an area rug.

Guard Stripes

Colored stripes that separate the main border from the field of an area rug.


Persian for "flower or rose". When used in relation to area rugs, it often describes an elongated, octagonal motif which is often found in Turkoman carpets.


Turkish for "rug".


Turkish for "rug merchant".


Hand hooked rugs, are made similar to how hand tufted rugs are except that they have a short, looped pile and usually have a light–weight mesh backing. Hand hooked rugs that are made using a petite–point hooking tool have a pile of very small loops that result in the appearance of fine embroidery.


To make a hand knotted area rug, a weaver has to tie each individual knot to the backing, making it truly a one of a kind piece. These rugs are usually made of wool or silk knotted around warps with cotton woven through to hold the knots in place. Because of the long amount of labor that goes into making a hand knotted rug, they are usually the most expensive rugs.

Hand-Made Area Rug

Hand–made area rugs are made by a skilled rug maker and can take a great deal of time to make, especially hand knotted area rugs. Besides being hand knotted, hand–made area rugs can also be hooked, looped, tufted, or flat woven.


A hand tufted rug takes much less time to make than a hand–knotted rug does because there are no knots that need tying. They also usually cost much less. To make a hand tufted area rug, a rug maker uses a "tufting gun" to push loops of yarn through the backing. Once finished, a scrim is applied to the backside with glue and then a canvas backing is usually attached to that. The rugs is then sheared (cut across the top) cutting the loops to create the pile which is the surface that you see and walk on.


Area rugs that have been woven by hand on a hand loom.

Hard Twist/Cut Pile

A durable pile with tightly twisted yarns that resists flattening. (See also Frieze.)

Herati Border

A rug design that features a centerpiece of a rose, often encased in a diamond shape that is surrounded by four leaves.


A Turkish city where intricate silk rugs are made. Hereke rugs feature the Persian Senneh knot.


City located near Iran where rugs were made with geometric medallions that are still popular today.

Hooked rug

Area rugs that are made by using a hook to push loops of yarns through a backing. (See also Hand–Hooked.)


A plant in the pea family that has been used to create blue area rug dyes.

Jute Rugs

These rugs are made from the fibers from the stalks of jute plants commonly grown in India and Bangladesh. These fibers are made into rope or yarn and closely resemble wool in some cases.


A district located in southern Caucasus where many different designs of area rugs are woven. These designs include medallions, bouquets of roses, religious designs, and more.


A main trading central for quality rugs in Iran during the 17th and 18th centuries.


Area rugs made in the Islamic region of India with unique color and patterns. These rugs are usually made of silk or mercerized cotton and are hand–knotted with Persian knots.


Turkish style area rugs made in Kazakhstan.


A Southeastern Iranian city that is known for making area rugs with multiple medallions and floral motifs.


A double–sided, reversible, flat–woven area rug that is usually woven with wool. Kilims are like dhurries but more tightly woven.

Knot (Area Rug)

Pieces of fiber that are knotted on a warp to make area rugs. The two most common knots are the Persian and the Turkish knot.

Knot Count

Knot count or knots per square inch measures the number of knots in one square inch of an area rug. This can range from 40 – 2,000.

Knotted Pile

A method of weaving used to make area rugs that involves wrapping pieces of yarn around warps and tying each piece in a knot to create the pile.

Kufic Script

A decorative style of calligraphy sometimes used in area rug design.


An area rug dye that is derived from a gemstone that is translucent blue, green, violet, or a combination of those colors.

Latex (Area Rug)

Latex, which is made of rubber or plastic, is commonly found in area rug adhesives.

Line Count

"Line Counts" are a measurement of how many knots run across one linear foot of carpet.


A piece of equipment that is used when knotting or weaving area rugs to hold the warp strands taunt.


Machine–made rugs are made on a power loom operated by a machine, computer, or person in order to produce area rugs quickly. They can be produced in large quantities and with several colors and complex designs.


Intricate area rugs that usually feature medallions or floral patterns of European and Persian designs.


Refers to where the area rug was made.

Medallion (Area Rug)

A large central focal point or centerpiece on an area rug. Medallions are common on European and oriental rug designs.


Individual or repetitive elements of an area rug's design.

Multi-Level Loop Pile

An area rug pile that has been cut at different heights in order to create a 3–D effect.

Natural Dyes

Natural dyes are those that are derived from plants, minerals, and animals.

Natural Rug

Rugs that are constructed of natural fibers, backing, or dyes or rugs that have a natural look with an ivory or neutral color.

Needlepoint Rug

A method of rug making that involves yarn being stitched onto a canvas similar to the way a needle point pillow is made.


These area rugs, which feature elaborate leaf and flower designs, are considered to be one of the highest quality kilim rugs available.


Old–fashioned for "of the Eastern World".


The dynasty in Turkey that ruled over Persian from the year 1290 to 1924.


The design or picture on an area rug.


A central, floral design that reaches from the top and bottom of an area rug medallion.

Persian Knot

A type of asymmetrical knot, also known as the Senneth knot that is used to make hand-knotted area rugs. (See also Asymmetrical Knot.)

Pile Weight

The total weight of the pile in a square yard of an area rug.


A single tuft of the pile.

Power Loom

A machine operated loom used to make area rugs.

Prayer Rug

Small rugs woven in several areas in the middle east that were once used to kneel and pray on.

Primary Backing

The material that tufts of yarn are attached to when making an area rug.


A design common on area rugs that features four rounded lobes that are intersecting each other to form a rounded cross.


Number of knots in 2–3/4" or 7 centimeters of an area rug.

Resilience (Area Rug)

When used in reference to area rugs, resilience refers to rug durability as well as the ability of pile to withstand crushing.


A plant that is part of the Rhuem family whose leaves were used in the past to dye rugs a copper–red color in China, India, and Tibet.


A round motif that appears as a flower. (See Gul)

Rug Pad

Rug pads or underlayments are thin layers of material that are placed under your rug to resist rug slipping and protect those walking on its surface. They also help to extend the life of both your rug and your floor covering underneath and add cushioning for more comfort underfoot.


Rugs that are long and narrow. Runners are used mostly in hallways and down stair steps.


A flowering plant that was commonly used in the past in India, China, and the Blakans to dye area rug fibers purple, white, or orange.

Sarouk (Serouk)

Area rugs manufactured in factories in Iran that are exported throughout the world.


French area rugs manufactured until 1890 that resemble Persian Kerman. Nowadays, many Indian and Persian area rugs feature Savonnerie designs.


Very durable grass taken from salt marshes that is used to make stain–resistant, anti–static rugs intended for use indoors.


A process of combing area rug fibers to remove shorter fibers, which creates a more lustrous selection of yarn.


A method of applying heat to twisted tufts of yarn in order to "set" their twisted shape.

Shag Rug

Similar to shag carpet, once popular in the 1970s, shag rugs are now being seen as a contemporary rug style. Shag rugs feature a long pile that is usually made of synthetic fibers.

Shah Abbas

An area rug design element that is common in Persian rugs made today. Shah Abbas rugs feature lotus and feather motifs.

Shedding (Area Rug)

Where small fibers leftover from the manufacturing process come loose on the surface of an area rug.

Sheen (Area Rug)

Another word for luster. Area rugs can sometimes be given a chemical wash that gives them sheen.

Silk (Area Rug)

Area rugs made of silk fibers from silk worms have a very luxurious look and feel. They are very soft to the touch and can be used on the floor though they are often used as decorative wall pieces because they are very expensive. Real silk rugs should not be confused with art silk rugs.

Sisal (Area Rug)

A very durable, natural fiber made from the pointed leaves of the Sisal plant. The fiber is used to make indoor area rugs that are coarse underfoot.

Soumak Weave

Complicated rugs that are made using a weft–wrapping technique where extra wefts of colored wool are added in to create a design or pattern.


Designs in the corner of an area rug (often arc shaped).

Static (Area Rug)

Electricity that builds–up from the friction created by walking across an area rug.


Area rug patterns that interlace and resemble straps.


The aesthetic personality of an area rug.


Persian area rugs with a touch of European style that feature elaborate vine designs and floral motifs. Sultanabad designs originated in the northeastern part of Iran.

Synthetic Fibers (Area Rug)

Man–made area rug fibers such as nylon, polypropylene, and polyester.


Area rugs that incorporate floral motifs and symmetrical patterns which were originally made in the city of Tabriz in Iran.


A complicated weft face weave.

Tea Wash

A wash used to give area rugs an antique look.

Textured Loop Pile

Area rugs with a textured loop pile have loops of varying heights which reduce the appearance of tracking.

Tibetan Knot

A knot used to make hand-knotted area rugs that originated in Tibet.

Tip Shear

A style of area rug where some of the pile tuft are cut and some are left looped which minimizes the appearance of tracking.


When various tones of one color are used in an area rug.


Visible crushing or lying of the carpet fibers on their side from being walked on and pressed down which is usually gone after vacuuming.

Traditional (Area Rug)

Area rugs that are classical or antique.


A name that encompasses many different styles of area rugs that have contemporary styles with traditional European and Oriental designs.

Tribal Rug

Area rug designs that were originally woven by tribal people.

Tufted Rug

Area rugs made by punching tufts through a fabric base. (See also Hand–Tufted.)

Turkish Knot (Senneh)

A popular type of symmetrical knot commonly used to make hand–knotted area rugs.

Turret Gul

An octagon shaped design that has eight points with another octagon inside.

Vegetable dyes

Dyes that are derived from plants that contain no synthetic additives.


Cut–pile area rugs that have a velvet–like surface.


Area rugs that feature inter–locking birds.

Village Rug

Area rugs that are made by several different workers, working together, often around the clock.


Yarns that extend throughout the length of an area rug which knots are tied into.


The act of chemically treating area rugs to give them a soft texture or antique look.


Strands of yarn that hold the pile knots in their place.

William Morris

The establisher of an English design firm that was named after himself. The firm created area rugs of middle eastern style with western touches that were commonly displayed in luxurious hotels and governmental offices.

Wilton Rug

Rugs made on the Wilton loom which was the first loom to be computerized but offers limited color palettes.

Wilton Side Woven

Rugs woven on the Wilton loom but at a 90 degree angle.

Wool Sisal

Wool rugs that may or may not be blended with real sisal, but are meant to provide an alternative to 100% sisal rugs which can be coarse underfoot.

Worsted Wool

A process of combing out shorter wool fibers in order to create durable, lustrous rugs with long wool fibers.


Fibers that are twisted together and are then used to make the pile of area rugs and other materials.


A rug that is approximately 3' x 5'.