Glossary

Terms Used in the Rug Industry
 

Abrash - The natural and variable change in color that occurs in an Oriental rug over time when different dyes are used.
Acrylic Fiber - Any of numerous synthetic fibers polymerized from acrylonitrile. A man-made fiber with a wool-like appearance. Acrylic fiber is less durable than nylon, and does not dye as well.
All-Over - This is a term used to describe the pattern of a rug whose field has no central medallion.

Antique Wash - A chemical bath that tones down colors to simulate aging.
Arabesque - A complex, ornate design of intertwined floral, foliate, and geometric figures.
Art Silk - Also called artificial silk or faux silk, it is usually a synthetic, such as polyester, or cellulosic fiber such as viscose/rayon. The fiber is very soft to the touch and is used to create a price category for smaller budgets whose tastes run toward expensive silk rugs.

Berber - A term that originally referred to the traditional handweaving of North African tribespeople who used handspun yarns made from the undyed wool of local sheep. This homespun natural colored look has been developed on a commercial basis by carpet manufacturers.
Blend - A rug containing a mixture of two or more fibers.

Border Rug - A rug that features a design on the outer rim of the rug, surrounding the field.
Boteh - This is a motif in stylized form representing either a pine cone, a palmetto, or the sacred flame of Zoroaster.

Bouclé - A heavily textured loop pile.
Braided Rug - A rug made by braiding yarn around a core and shaping it into a rug. Braids can be tubular (shaped around only one core, which forms a round braid) or flat (shaped around two core yarns, which makes a flat braid).
Chenille - A fabric with a deep fuzzy pile often used for bedspreads and rugs.
Chrome Dyes - Synthetic dyes that use potassium bichromate to form a permanent bond between yarn and the dye. More widely used than vegetable dyes because they are colorfast.

Classical - A vague term referring to court carpets produced prior to the 19th century.
Contemporary - A contemporary rug falls in the non-traditional style rug category. The designs range from geometrics to free-form asymmetrical styles.
Cross-woven - A unique weaving technique on Wilton looms in which an area rug is woven "sideways" rather than from top to bottom, fringe to fringe. This technique allows for the use of up to 24 shades of color, creating ultra fine detail and a beautiful abrash effect. This technique allows fringes to be incorporated into the rug rather than sewn on later.
Cut-Pile - Cut Pile is a smooth classic finish often known as velour or velvet pile, ideal for bringing a luxurious and sensual feel to rooms. The tops of the loops of wool are cut and the yarn is twisted and set to produce tufts of yarn that stand upright and produce a smooth, even surface.
Denier - System for expressing linear density, equal to the mass in grams per 9,000 meters of yarn, filament, fiber or other textile strand. Denier is a direct numbering system - the higher the denier, the larger the yarn or fiber.
Density - Refers to the amount of pile yarn in the carpet and the closeness of the tufts. The denser or more tightly packed the yarn, the better.
Embossing - process of carving around a design or symbol to enhance the look of the rug. Commonly done in some Chinese and Tibetan rugs.

Embroidery - The use of a variety of different needle-worked stitches to decorate fabrics.
Field - The center of an area rug. The background of the rug inside the borders. It may have a specific pattern or be of a plain color.
Flat Weave - Weaving in which no knots are used. The weft strands are simply passed through the warp strands. Dhurries are flat woven rugs that originated in India and are usually made of cotton or wool. Kilims are generally finer, tapestry-like flat weaves. A catch-all term that describes any rug without pile including Soumaks, Kilim, Verneh, Sozani, and Dhurie.
Foundation - An interlaced combination of warp and wefts in the rug's body.

Frames - Racks which hold spools of yarn on a Wilton loom. Each frame holds a separate color creel. Thus an eight-frame Wilton weaves an eight color rug.
Frieze - Also called hard twist, this carpet pile uses highly twisted yarn for a more textured cut pile effect.

Fringe - The excess warp threads extending from the end of the rug.
Gauge - The number of ends of pile yarn per unit length cut across the width of the carpet.
Guard - These are decorated bands which surround and enhance the main border.
Guard Stripe - A thin stripe used to highlight guards and to separate them from the beginning of the field.

Hand - Tactile qualities of a fabric including softness, stiffness, rough, scratchy, etc.
Hand-Hooked Rug - In creating a hooked area rug, a canvas cloth is first attached to a frame. Using a hooking instrument or device and following the pattern, the weaver punches the yarn up through the canvas, creating a looped pile. Next the rug is taken off the frame and a layer of latex glue is spread over the back of the area rug. This is necessary to hold the yarns in place, as they have not been knotted or tied into the foundation of the area rug. It is important to note that the long ends of wool that often appear on the surface of the hooked rug (called sprouts) must not be pulled for this very reason. If they are pulled, versus cutting them even with the pile, it will result in a section of missing wool and will damage the area rug.
After applying the glue, a cloth is attached to further protect the back of the area rug. Lastly, the edges of the canvas are turned under and stitched. The quality and durability of hooked area rugs vary, but it is mostly based on the point size; the smaller the loop the better. Gross Point is the largest loop size and is used for a more detailed design. Micro-Hooked (Used in Kensington and Nantucket) is the finest weave, and gives both the most detail and the best durability in hooked area rugs.

Handmade Rug - A hand made rug is either entirely handknotted (finished with knots) or handtufted (yarn is pushed through the canvas using a tufting instrument). These rugs generally are made of wool or other fine materials such as silk. They are generally more expensive than machine-made rugs.
Hand-Tufted Rug - Hand-tufted area rugs are created in a very similar fashion to hand-hooked area rugs. The major difference is that after the loop pile is created, it is usually sheared to produce a flat pile surface. As the name implies, this type of area rug is produced by craftsmen who draw the design on the canvas which will become the area rug anchor backing. These craftsmen then tuft the area rug using a "tufting gun" to insert various colored yarns into a backing. Area rugs manufactured in this manner may be either "cut" or "loop" finish, and varying pile heights may be used within the area rug to achieve a textured effect. Hand-tufted area rugs are among the most sumtuous types of area rugs made, offering infinite design opportunities and variations.
Heat-Set - Twisted yarns are treated with heat to retain their "permanent wave" for better performance and appearance retention.

Herati - This is a design feature often found in carpets from Persia. Usually four fish head or leaves are woven around a well-defined diamond. This is also referred to as the Fish Design.
Hooked rug - A rug made by using a hooking device (either a hand-operated one or machine one) to push and loop yarn through a canvas. This is either left looped (creating a "loop hook" or "latch hook" rug) or sheared to create an open pile.

Jute - You are probably familiar with the brown woven cloth used for burlap sacks. Burlap is woven jute cloth. Most jute is grown and harvested in the moist heat of Bangladesh, India and China. Processing involves wetting the long jute plants and then stripping the fibers from the stalks. Once separated into fibers, jute can be spun into yarn, woven or made into rope. Although jute is of relatively poor quality, it is plentiful and inexpensive, in fact there is more jute processed than any other natural fiber except cotton.
Kilim - A common flat weave rug, usually produced by tribal weavers.
Knot - The basic structural unit of the pile rug, knots vary according to local and tribal weaving traditions, with the two main types being symmetrical (Turkish) and asymmetrical (Persian) varieties. Turkish knots make for a higher pile heavy wearing style of rug. Persian knots are used in fine urban and complex tribal carpets.
Knot Count - In making handmade, hand-knotted rugs, each piece of yarn is knotted through the back of the rug as it is incorporated into the rug. The higher the number of knots per square inch, the higher the quality of the rug.

Knotted Pile - A type of weaving in which tufts or wool forming the pile are wrapped around one or more (usually two) warps to project at right angles to the plane of the weaving. They are "tied" individually, a transverse row at a time, and are held in place by ground wefts. The process is to be distinguished from the making of hooked rugs in which tufts of wool are poked into a pre-existing loosely woven fabric. In carpet weaving, knots can only be inserted as weaving proceeds and not afterwards. The "knots" are not true knots though they do encircle one or more of the wefts to form a highly durable fabric. The pile "knots" cannot be pulled out as they can when the tufts of pile are simply looped around the warps.
Line Count - The number of horizontal knots in a linear foot of rug. As with knot count, the higher the number, generally the higher the quality of the rug. This measurement is commonly used for judging the quality of Chinese and other Oriental rugs.
Lobe - A rounded division frequently found in medallions and in border ornaments.
Loom - A frame or machine for interlacing at right angles two or more sets of threads or yarns to form a rug.
A structure that allows area rugs to be woven by holding the warp strands taut; looms can be either vertical or horizontal, fixed or mobile.

Loop Pile - Level loop pile is a hard wearing surface formed on continuous loops of yarn of uniform length, designed to minimize tracking.
Luster - Brightness or sheen of fibers, yarns.

Machine-Made Rug - A machine made rug is produced using an automated loom for yarn placement and weaving. Fringe on these rugs may either be sewn into the rug or sewn on by hand later. Often made of polyproplyene, acrylic or wool, these rugs generally are less expensive than handmade rugs.
Main Border - The frame for the field of a rug. It is generally the widest element in the framing located next to the guard bands or stripes.
Medallion - The medallion is the round, oval, or polygonal large design element that sometimes occupies the center of the field.
Motifs - Single or repeated design or color that can be found throughout the rug.
Mountain Grass/Hemp - Mountain grass is grown in the highland fields of China. Chinese Mountain Grass is also known as Hemp. It is similar in texture to seagrass (reed-like) but because of the dryer growing conditions has a deep shade of brown.

Multi-Level Loop Pile - Carpet with loops of yarn at different heights creating a sculptured effect.
Nap - The pile yarns or the surface of a rug or carpet.

Natural Rug - Often refers to an ivory or earth-toned rug where the texture of the rug is the main feature. These rugs are usually made of sisal, jute or wool.
Needlepoint - A rug making technique made with wool yarns worked on canvas using the same method as a needlepoint pillow.
New Zealand Wool - This is a superb natural product produced in an environmentally responsible, energy-efficient and safe way. The well-known high quality of New Zealand wool is based on long-term investment in scientific sheep breeding, as well as agricultural land management techniques. This ensures that New Zealand wool is consistently of uniform quality, free from vegetable and chemical contaminants, and is the cleanest, whitest wool available, enabling the widest ranges of different yarn and rug styles to be produced.
Nylon - Durable synthetic fiber which also has good dyeing characteristics. Nylon yarns can be solution dyed, skein dyed and/or space dyed.

Oriental - Traditional word that means of the Eastern World or of the land found by ship when Africa has been circled, it has come to more accurately describe characteristics of Turkey, Iran, India, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan. The modern definition excludes characteristics of China and Indochina now classified as Asian.
Ottoman - A powerful Turkish dynasty that ruled most of extended Persia from 1290 to 1924. It was named for its founder Osman.

Patina - The surface appearance of a rug usually mellows with age or use.
Persian Knot - This knot is also tied onto two adjacent warp threads, after the first few have been set aside at the side for the selvedge. But, unlike the Turkish knot, in the Persian knot only one of the warp threads is encircled by the strand of wool, which merely passes behind the other warp thread, so that the ends of the woolen strand appear separately: the first between the original two warp threads, and the second between the two subsequent ones. Each Persian knot is separated from its neighbor by a loop, which is cut after the passage of the weft. The Persian knot can be tied equally well from right to left or viceversa, which is why it is sometimes called the "two-handed" knot. When several knotters are working on the same area rug and using Persian knots, one begins his knotting from the right and one from the left.

Pile - The surface of a rug composed of an infinite number of loops of warp threads, or else of an infinite number of free ends of either warp or of weft, or filling, threads that stand erect from the foundation. In a looped pile rug the loops are uncut; in a cut pile rug the same or similar loops are cut, either in the loom during weaving or by a special shearing tool.
Pile Height - The height of the pile, as measured in decimal parts of one inch, from the top surface of the back to the top surface of the pile. The higher the number, the higher the pile.
Pileweave - A term used to refer to the structure of knotted carpets and rugs. Wool, silk, or sometimes cotton is knotted around the warp in a variety of techniques, depending on the traditions of the carpet weaver.
Pile Weight - The weight of pile yarn per square yard of carpet.
Plush - A cut-pile carpet in which the tuft ends all blend together.
Ply - The thickness of an area rug or carpet yarn. 3 ply means that each tuft of yarn consists of 3 yarns spun together to form the tuft.
Point - One tuft of pile.
Polyester - Synthetic fiber most often used in staple spun yarns.

Polypropylene/Olefin - A petroleum-based synthetic material which is often heat set to guarantee vibrant color, long lasting beauty, easy maintenance and long-lasting superior performance. Used extensively in machine made rugs. This fiber is colored in the pellet phase of production.
Power-Loom - A loom operated by mechanical or electronic power.
Prayer rug - A small Oriental rug used by Moslems to kneel on when saying their daily prayers. These rugs are woven throughout Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, the Caucasus and Turkestan.
Primary Backing - In tufted carpet, this is the woven backing into which tufts are inserted by needles. Tufts are bonded into place with latex applied on the reverse side.
Rosette - A motif resembling an open rose consisting of a circular arrangement of parts around a center.
Runner - A long, narrow rug used mostly for hallways and staircases.

Savonnerie - Made in France, this is a hand-knotted pastel rug with a floral medallion set on an open field with broken borders. This rug is the model for many of today's Indian and Persian rugs.
Saxony - A dense cut pile carpet made with heavy yarns treated so each tuft end can be easily seen. A shorter pile than shag pile and generally a closer construction.
Seagrass - Seagrass is a durable, economical plant fiber derived from tropical grasses. Seagrass reeds are thick and rigid. The non-porous skin is smooth to the touch and gives a slight natural sheen. Seagrass is only available in its natural color, which has an organic green cast and becomes less green overtime. Seagrass is a stain-resistant fiber.
Secondary Backing - In tufted carpet, an additional backing is bonded onto the primary backing with latex.

Selvedge - The edge on either side of a woven rug so finished as to prevent unraveling.
Semi-Worsted - An extra step in wool processing that combs out shorter fibers resulting in durable and lustrous yarns.
Setting - A process used to set the twist in yarns when they are to be used in cut pile textures requiring good tuft definition.
Shading - A change in the appearance of an area rug due to localized distortions of the fibers, tufts or loops. Shading is not a change in color or hue, but a different reflection.
Shedding - The process of losing loose fiber from the pile yarn of a new carpet. It is not harmful to the carpet. Also called fluffing.
Sisal - Sisal’s textured look is a favorite of interior designers. Sisal is a natural fiber derived from the 'agave sisalana' cactus plant. Sisal grows In semi-arid regions. The largest producers of sisal are located in northeast Brazil and Africa. Sisal fibers (which can be up to three feet long) are sustainably harvested by hand from the leaves of the cactus plant. Sisal is not the same fiber as coir or jute. Sisal is stronger and more durable than other natural fibers. Sisal is therefore preferred for carpet and rugs.
Solution Dyed - A method of dyeing synthetic fiber in which pigment is added to the nylon or polypropylene chip before it is extruded as filament yarn.
Space Dyed - Yarn colored in sections of different colors before being tufted or woven into a rug. Abrash effects can be created with space dyed yarns. Space dyeing is frequently applied to nylon fibers.

Spandrel - Also called corner brackets. The corner design of a rug field.
Sprouting - When ends of backing material such as jute appear on the pile surface.
Static - The build-up of an electric charge when a person walks over a carpet, which is subsequently discharged. It occurs on natural and synthetic fibers, and is dictated by humidity.
Sumac Weave - Sumacs are complex and reversible. An extra weft of dyed wool is added to create the pattern. These pattern wefts are wrapped around the warps in a regular sequence. They are cut and hang loose on the back of the rug. Sumacs are a brocade weave.

Tapestry - A hand-woven wall hanging with a flat weave, usually characterized by complicated pictorial designs.
Tea Wash - A procedure used to soften the colors of a rug and give it the appearance of age.

Textured Loop Pile - With loops of differing pile height, textured loop has a unique sculptured look. Like level loop pile, this hard wearing texture minimizes tracking.
Tibetan Knot - A distinctive rug-weaving technique now used in other regions, as well as in Tibet. A temporary rod, which establishes the length of pile, is put in front of the warp. A continuous yarn is looped around two warps and then once around the rod. When a row of loops is finished, then the loops are cut to create the pile. This method produces a slightly ridged surface.
Tip-Shear - These carpets have a unique patterned or textured appearance achieved by having some loops of yarn cut and some uncut. This luxurious finish minimizes footprints and gives your floor classic, fashionable comfort.
Tone-On-Tone - Two or more shades of the same hue achieved by combining two ends of different shades, two different yarns of the same color or cut-pile and looped pile of the same color.
Tracking - Tracking is the effect of imprints on your carpet left by feet. It is more common on cut pile than loop pile surfaces but it is temporary and will disappear after vacuuming.
Traditional - Styling designation that refers to long established patterns in the Oriental/Persian or classic European schools. In new rugs, traditional designs are produced either in modern colorations or in colors that replicate antique rugs.
Transitional - A broad style category that falls between traditional and contemporary. Many floral patterns are included in this category.

Tribal Rug - The term is often used interchangeably with gabbeh, to describe a primitive-looking or Southwestern-looking rug. This look is very popular and is available at all price points.
Triple-Frame - A flat weave construction which incorporates the use of three frames rather than one frame, allowing for the possibility to use three different yarns (types of materials or different colors).
Tufted Rug - A mechanically assisted technique for manufacturing rugs in which tufts of wool are punched through base fabric to color in a silk screen design painted on the base. The back of the base is then painted with thick Latex glue and covered with a sacking material. This method is mostly used in China to produce less expensive versions of their handknotted rugs.
Turkish Knot - As knotting begins, three or four lateral warp threads are left free; with the to-and-fro movement of the weft, they will form a very narrow but vital selvedge down the sides of the rug. The Turkish knot is tied around two adjacent warp threads, each of which are encircled by the strand of wool; the ends of the woolen strand reappear between these two warp threads. The process is then repeated. A loop of wool about 2 or 3 centimeters (0.8 or 1.2 in.) in length is left between each knot until the last warp thread of the row. With the aid of two shed-sticks to separate the warp threads, two shots of weft are then passed, forwards and backwards, across the whole breadth of the area rug, including the lateral threads that bear no knots. After each shot, the weft is compressed against the row of knots with a heavy metal comb. Finally, a new row of knots is begun following the same procedure, which is repeated until completion of the knotting. Then the loops of wool are cut to form tufts which, after clipping, constitute the pile of the area rug.
Twist - The winding of the yarn around itself. The twist should be neat and well defined. A tighter twist provides enhanced durability and in the case of patterned goods, a more delineated design.

Vegetable Dyes - Dyes made from plants and bark. They produce unusual shades of blue, green and other colors. They contain no synthetic chemicals and due to their natural ingredients, tend to fade faster than chrome dyes.
Velour - Cut-pile carpet with a uniform, velvet-like surface.
Village Rug - Rugs made in villages or by nomads, usually smaller with simpler patterns. The designs are usually created from memory.
Warp - The yarn stretched vertically on a hand-knotted area rug. The knots forming the pile are tied on the warp threads.

Washing - A euphemism for the chemical treatment of woollen rugs which tones down the colors, dulls the whites, makes the pile glossy and gives them a soft and supple texture. The process in some respects imitates the effect of ageing and undoubtedly makes rugs more saleable, but the changes are irreversible and the process is not favored by purists who believe that rugs should be allowed to age naturally.
Weave - To make a rug on a loom by interlacing warp and weft threads.
Weft - Threads of yarn that run across the width of the rug between the warp threads to hold the knots in place.
William Morris - The English design firm named for its founder that specialized in adopting middle eastern designs to western tastes. Most of their beautiful designs were used in institutional settings like Grand Hotels and Government Buildings. They actually made Persian style carpets in London from 1890 to 1914 with labor imported from Pakistan.
Wilton Loom - An automated loom used for machine-made designs. It offers flexibility in color placement and design, including the ability to cross-weave rugs.

Wilton Weave - The yarn that the weaver passes across the width of the rug between warp threads. The weft threads maintain the knots of the pile in place.
Wilton Rug - A machine loomed carpet with a limited color palette. Most today are made of synthetic fiber and have dubious durability. Well made wool wiltons can last as long as 15 years of more. Most Wiltons are made in time sharing factories that manufacture wiltons for many companies at the same time. Modern Wiltons are the first type of rug to be computerized and automated.
Wool Sisal - Wool sisal-look carpets are very popular. The fashionable raw, woven texture of sisal (coir and seagrass) is stylishly translated into the warmth, softness and durability of New Zealand wool.
Woven Carpets - Woven carpets are made on a weaving loom - the backing threads and pile are woven at the same time, so the tufts are anchored in place and a strong interwoven structure is created. Traditional methods originating in the 16th century, Axminster and Wilton are both well known woven carpets. Woven carpets can offer a wider range of patterns and are slower to make than tufted carpets.