Rug Glossary - Antique Rug Studio

The Afshar tribes are located in Kirman Province, in Southeast Iran. They weave mostly smaller rugs ( 3’ x 5’ to 5’ x 7’) in a wide range of semi-geometric to fully floral styles, the latter influenced by Kirman city carpets. They are eclectic both in weave and design, the result of both tribal heterogeneity, proximity to urban patterns and a long history of weaving for the market. A few carpets up to 20’ long are found. The pile of Afshar rugs is short and the colors are vibrant. The best pieces are of 19th century date. A variety of other tribal pieces are woven: mostly saddlebags, but also animal trappings. Prayer rugs are avoided.
Located in the north-central India about 120 miles south of Delhi, rugs have been woven in this city since about 1600, but it is still controversial whether any of the carpets attributed to Isfahan more actually Agra products. The 19th century situation is clearer: carpets employing the same overall pattern of palmettes and curving vines on ruby red grounds in large, square sizes, are the iconic type. In later 19th century work, the design becomes smaller and denser, the weave heavier, and the red approaches cranberry. Other designs include copies or interpretations of classical Persian patterns, especially after 1890. many very large pieces were woven by inmates of the Agra City Jail on contract to western importers. Good Agras are always in demand and can bring six-figure prices at auction.
Agra - Cotton
A subtype of Agra production in which the pile is all cotton instead of wool. The color palette is lighter and narrower: often only 3 or 4 tones are used. This tonal minimalism works well with modern décor. The rugs are cool to the touch and are particularly delightful in the summer. Cotton does not have the weaving quality of wool, but many examples are found in excellent condition. Sizes range up to 25’ and a limited production continues to the present day.
This north Indian city is the religious seat of the Sikhs. In the late 19th century a weaving industry catering to export demand through British dealers was created. Before that no rugs were woven in Amritsar. Production is almost all carpet sizes, many quite square and often in medallion and corners layouts on open fields. The ornament is simplified, thus allowing for rapid production and moderate prices. The weave is generally quite coarse and the rugs are lighter in handle than Agras.
Aubusson - Directoire
A short period, 1795-1800 or so, of strongly neo-classical Aubusson carpets before the progressing elaboration of the consult and Empire periods. Fields are divided into large and small panels and classical design elements (acanthus, vases, lyres, etc.) are employed with restraint. There are relatively few hue period Directoire pieces as only two factories were active in production at that time.
These carpets are made in the Chahar Mahal (“Four Places”) are of southwest Iran by sedentary villagers, some Armenian, rather than by the nomadic Bakhtiari tribespeoples. They tend to large, square sizes, often over 20 feet in length. Designs are frequently a panel pattern derived from garden carpets, but also lozenge lattices or angular medallions also appear. Colors are bright and the weave is robust. A small group of rugs was made for the Bakhtiari Khans (tribal leaders) early in the 20th century. They are often inscribed and are of very fine workmanship. The more frequently encountered pieces are moderately priced and often in excellent condition.
Primarily a trade term applied to a wide variety of weaves and design styles of Heriz area carpets from about 1870 to 1895. there is no consistent theme, but Caucasian tonalities of red, light and medium blue, ivory and green prevail, wool often occurs in the foundation. Although the town of Bakshaiesh appears on rug maps, it is unclear if all the carpets in question were woven there. Strong open medallion designs or ingenious overall patterns are frequent. Bakshaiesh carpets, evn those in need of restoration, can command healthy prices. Sizes are primarily in carpets up to 12’ x 20’, but a few scatters were woven.
A name given to (mostly) pile rugs woven by Indo-European Tribal groups in Easter Iran (Khorossana nd Sistan Provinces) and Northwest Afghanistan (Herat Prov.). The true Baluch tribes of Baluchistan do not weave pile rugs of excellent wool, the sizes tend to be small, up to 5’ x 7’, with a few older large carpets. The tones are dark blues, camel, reds and purples with white accents. In older pieces the colors are jewel-like and the texture is velvety. The tribes dwell in black goat-hair tents and migrate seasonally. Saddlebags, pillows, animal trappings and other small items are woven. Camelfield player rugs are particularly characteristic and desirable. Most examples are inexpensive, but a serious collector market exists for the best.
A trade name applied to those Ersari Turkman tribal carpets woven in what was the Bokhara Khanate (now Uzbekistan), along the Oxus(Amu Darya) River is generally long and narrow sizes for local houses, not tents. The reds tend to tomato, the yellows are strong, and there is a good range of blues and greens. The weave is coarse and the wool quality is good. Designs are often taken from Persian sources. The best ones are all 19th century.
This town is located near Hamadan in western Iran and since the later 19th century has specialized in carpet sizes in overall patterns. Modern examples overlay these designs with a small central medallion. The outer border of antique pieces, as with contemporary Hamadans were particular popular and one can still find old examples up to 12’ x 20’. Runners and 4’ x 6’ of antique vintage are very rare. The weave is coarse and jufti knotting is frequent. Prices are moderate, possibly a bargain considering the rarity of the type.
Probably the heaviest and longest wearing of any handmade carpet, with a very firm and almost board like handle, they are produced in the town of Bijar and in lesser qualities in the surrounding villages in Persian Kurdistan. The best feature all wool construction with a compact and dense pile of high quality wool which takes dyes well, including an excellent dark blue and a warm copper red, along with green, lighter blues, and a natural ivory. Patterns maybe overall or medallion, the fields full decorated or open. The weave varies from medium to very fine in the Halvai quality. Prices and sizes range widely.
Bijar - Garrus
Garrus is a town near Bijar in Persian Kurdistan famous for a particular popular design on a dark blue (usually) field, a strong trellis of ivory split arabesques, with floral infills catches the eye. Only rarely are these red or ivory examples. Sizes run over 20’ long and some very desirable samples (wagireh) are found. Virtually all the best ones are antique and one a wool foundation.
This is the general heading for all rugs made in the Caucasus mountains and in the trans-Caucasus areas, north of the Arax River, and between the Black and Caspian Seas. This includes rugs from the Kazak, Karabagh, Gendje, Koghan, Talish, Akstafa, Shirvan, Baku, Kuba and hesghi districts and the variants and subtypes thereof. The rugs are usually in scatter sizes and of all wool construction, with bold colors and geometric patterns, from the 18th through 20th centuries. Prices range widely depending on rarity, color, design and condition. A strong collector market exists for the better examples.
Caucasian - Bidjov
Bidjov is a town in the Kuba region of the Caucasus, north of Shirvan and west of the Caspian Sea. Bidjov rugs have the same structure as Zeichurs and often employ the running dog main border. By far the most popular design is an ascending array of stylish palmettes in tones of red, green, yellow, light blue and ivory, on an almost universal dark blue ground. The weave is light and think, and the foundation all wool. Black is very corrosive and with pile loss the rugs often look older than they really are. This inherent vice limits the number of Bidjous in good, original condition.
Caucasian - Moghan
A relatively uncommon rug type woven in the Moghan steppe region just north of the Persian border in the eastern Caucasus. Usually of long rug format (4’ x 8’), the most common design is a double column of side-hooked, stepped crosses (“memling guls”), often on a light ground. Not every rug with this pattern is a Moghan and not every Moghan employs them. The weave is firm and neat, pile is short, color range (up to 12 tones) is exceptional. The pancity of good ones means that lesser pieces in the characteristic pattern one frequently passed off as something superior.
Caucasian - Moghan
A relatively uncommon rug type woven in the Moghan steppe region just north of the Persian border in the eastern Caucasus. Usually of long rug format (4’ x 8’), the most common design is a double column of side-hooked, stepped crosses (“memling guls”), often on a light ground. Not every rug with this pattern is a Moghan and not every Moghan employs them. The weave is firm and neat, pile is short, color range (up to 12 tones) is exceptional. The pancity of good ones means that lesser pieces in the characteristic pattern one frequently passed off as something superior.
Caucasian - Shirvan
The Shirvan district of Caucasian Azerbaijan lies to the west of the Caspian sea, north of Baku. Rugs were made in huge numbers in the 19th century on composite wool and cotton foundations. There are many named subtypes among Shirvan weaves. Geometric motives fill the field, but the designs are smaller and individually less striking than those of the coarser Kazaks. Almost all rugs are scatters and runners. Dye quality varies, but the best rugs have wide, exceptional, natural dye palettes. Many Shirvans are exceptional,natural dy palettes. Many Shirvans are service rugs, but the best, for instance the Manasali prayer rugs are avidly collected and fetch extraordinary prices.
Caucasian - Talish
The classic Talish rug is generally oblong 4’ x 8’ with a plain blue ground and ivory rosette and “dice” border. They originate in a part of the southern Caucasus in the Talish steppe near the Persian border, close to the Persian Shah-Savan tribes. Other color and design layouts fill red or yellow fields with small stars or lattices. The best examples exude a calm and disciplined appeal, unlike most other more insistent Caucasian rugs and are highly collectible.
Caucasian - Zeychur
A type of Kuba, Northeast Caucasus, often in a repeating St. Andrew’s cross pattern with running wave borders. Other patterns are also used but a diagnostic is the pink-on-red detailing combination specific to the type. Sizes run 3’ x 4’ to 5’ x 8’, and runners up to 12’ long. The weave is fairly thin and not too fine, and the knotting in Turkish, as are all Caucasian rugs. The best pieces are all antique and highly south after.
Caucasian Kilim - Kuba
A particular design of slit tapestry flatwoven rug of repeating medallions (“racing car medallions”) in various colors almost invariably on a red ground, usually with a zig-zag border. Made in one piece, they average 5’ x 9’ with fine and thin weaves. The black is corrosive and they are best used in areas of little shoe traffic. They have not been made in any quantity since WWI.
Carpets made in China proper. See entries Ningshia, Peking, Art Deco.
Chinese - Art Deco
As the name implies, pieces woven between the wars for the Western market by mostly American owned firms especially Nichols and Fette, in thick heavy weaves using strong colors, asymmetric patterns and downplaying the Chinese-ness of the carpet. Nichols rugs are more strong toned than the pastel Fette. Most were woven in the coastal port city of Tientsin. Other lesser known workshops were also active. Some pieces are ultra-geometric and haute-Deco moderne in character: these are very rare. More frequent are pieces with bits of Chinese ornament: vases or other precious objects, paeonies, vines, fences, etc. Most common is the 9’ x 12’ size, in colors never found in mainstream Chinese rugs: backgrounds in black, mauve, purple, hot pink, orange, olive, employing the best synthetic chrome dyes of the period. Prices are still reasonable and carpets in top condition are available.
Chinese - NingXia
The western Chinese province of Ningshia has a mostly Muslim population and is the source of many of the oldest Chinese carpets of the modern (Ming Dynasty and later) era. The designs are typically Chinese: fretwork or Greek key boarders, pacony palmettes, bats, butterflies, Fu dogs, clouds, dragons, shou symbols, etc. Pollar carpets designed to wrap around monastery columns and displaying a dragon above waves are a specialty. The weave is coarse and soft, with several wefts between knot rows and a longish pile. Yellow golds, dark and light blues are common colors. The outer most plain border on pre 1800 examples is a corrosive brown. Formats include: large square “throne” carpets, paralleled meditation runners, chair seats and scalloped backs.
Chinese - Peking
The commercial Peking carpet is a later 19th century development, begun by importing weaves from Ningshia (see entry) to create and export industry aimed at Western markets. The foundation is cotton and the pile is a good quality carpet wool which takes dyes particularly well. The neat medium weave is in Persian (asymmetric) knots. Designs are strictly Chinese and the whole motif repertoire of Chinese art is employed. Blue and white is the most popular color combination and red is particularly rare. Sizes tend to 9’ x 12’ and larger, and few small pieces appear. For a short time in the early 1920’s Persian designs were woven to capitalize on the death of new Iranian goods. The industry decimated by the Communist Revolution relocated to the Pearl River area. There is a good supply of antique carpets at reasonable prices.
These are flat, tapestry woven cotton carpets from India in geometric designs most available dhurries are new or semi-antique. Although not hard wearing, they are excellent for informal interiors with their light colors and open, graphic patterns. The range of weaves is similar to that of their structural cousins, the kilim, sizes up to 25 feet long are available and the prices are inexpensive.
Ersari - Beshir
All Beshirs are the work of the Ersari tribe along the Oxus River in what is now Uzbekistan, once the Khanate of Bokhara. Carpets tend to be long and narrow with semi-geometric designs or motives adapted from traditional Persian overall patterns. The ground color is a bright, clear red accented with yellow and blue. Too large for tribal use, they were made for houses and public buildings in and around the cities of the Khanate. All the good ones are 19th century.
True Ferahan rugs, generally 4’ x 6’ to 6’ x 15’ were made in Arak Province in Western Persia in the 19th century. The designs are close repeats usually on dark blue, occasionally on ivory or red grounds. The light green is corrosive and diagnostic for a true Ferahan. Later the weave becomes thicker and medallions predominate, thus the Ferahan-Sarouk up to 1914 fine Mahals are often called Ferahans and there is no fixed line of demarcation between the groups.
French Savonnerie
True Savonnerie carpets were woven in the government factor in the old soapwork (“savon”) in Paris beginning in the 17th century for official court usage. Unlike commercial rugs, all pieces were designed by artists attached to the French Royal court. In thick wool pile tied in Turkish knots, the designs are wholly western in character and often incorporate symbols of the French nation. The tradition has continued to the present and carpets, often of extraordinary size are woven in both traditional and modern designs for French government use. Period Savonnerie carpets are always in demand and early ones are extremely valuable.
The town of Ghiordes in Western Turkey has been making rugs for most of 4 centuries. Best known and most desirable are the finely knotted prayer rugs, often with open fields in blue, green, red or ivory, in weaves up to 250 knots per square inch. These are all 18th century and a few early, non-prayer format larger carpets are known. In the 19th century the weave became coarser and large carpets up to 25’ square were woven for commercial sale. The type was most popular among collectors in the early 20th century and has recently become of interest to the connoisseur.
The old city of Echatana in southern Azerhaijan province, Persia. Rugs called ‘Hamadan’ are not made in the city, but only marketed there. They are woven in 100’s of Kurdish villages and tribal encampments in the surrounding area, in a welter of designs and qualities. Pile is all wool on a wool or cotton foundation, knots Turkish with semi-geometric to semi-floral designs, in sizes tending to scatters and runners. The best old pieces have camel border and fields (see Hamadan-Camel). Production of these inexpensive rugs continues unabated, and many 1000’s of them are woven annually.
Hamadan (Camel
A 19th century type of Hamadan with camel toned border and/or field, of generally good quality in both wool and dyes. Runners are frequently encountered and a few carpets 6’ x 10’ or larger are found. These are the most desirable of Hamadans, though still at reasonable prices. They resemble, and are confused with Sarab rugs in the same styles and color.
The Heriz area in northern Azerbaijan Province (Iran) makes semi-geometric, strongly colored carpets in a variety of sizes from 2’ x 3’ up to 15’ x 26’, usually in medallion design, but formerly in a wide range of overall or centralized layouts. The area has been active for at least two centuries, with production expanding greatly in the late 19th century. Weave is medium to quite coarse but the dyes are excellent and vibrant. Silk rugs were made there in the 19th century, but production ceased by 1910. The Heriz carpet has been the most consistently popular and affordable oriental available for western consumption.
Heriz - Silk
From the first quarter of the 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century, a select group of silk pile, silk foundation rugs was woven in the Heriz area in northwest Iran. More flexible in handle than silk Tabriz rugs, they have brighter colors and more idiosyneratic drawing often related to their coarser woolen cousins, weaves vary. But very fine examples count 500 knots per square inch. As rustic products they share a playfulness and naiveté foreign to their factory-made contemporaries from Tabriz. Sizes run from scatters up to 12’ x 18’ and designs are diverse. Often found in excellent condition, they are deservedly quite pricey.
Indian - Amritsar
see Amritsar.
The modern Isfahan of very fine weave, often on a silk foundation and in elaborate Persian curvilinear patterns is a creation of the early 20th century. The pile is clipped very low, the texture is velvety and the design is sharp often details are piled in silk. They may be signed by the weaver responsible for their creation. In the late 16th through the early 18th centuries, carpets of elongated format, usually red, with overall palmette and vine designs are believed to be woven in Isfahan (then capital of Persia). These carpets range from 4’ x 6’ to 15’ x 36’ and when in good condition are among the glories of Islamic art. The best ones are almost all in museums now.
The Karabagh (“Black Garden”) district, now part of Armenia, lies to the north of the Aras River dividing the Caucasian states from Iran, and to the east of the kazak area. Rugs have been woven there since at least the 17th century and the famous “dragon” carpets are early examples. The all wool construction is shared with kazaks, but although some Karabaghs (eagle, cloudband) are thick, even shaggy with a directness of pattern, others are more complex in design and thinner of weave. The styles are generally geometric, but there is a hint of Persian elaboration. Some pieces are in 19th century Russian Rocooo designs. Sizes run from 3’ x 4’ to 7’ x 20’ in medium-coarse weaves in Turkish knots. Prices are usually reasonable and the supply is adequate.
Kashan - Dabir
A particularly fine typed Kashan rug primarily woven in the interwar period in the town of Natanz in central Persia, near Kashan. The patterns are complex, often overall in layout; the pile is low with a firm velvet texture. The all cotton foundation supports a fine weave up to 300 knots/square inch. The many colors are rich and varied. Most production is in 4’ x 6’ sizes (dozar) and only a few large carpets were woven. They are rarely found, and display a true Persian taste and sensibility.
The thickly piled, boldy colored strongly geometric Caucasian rugs woven by villages in the Kars (Turkey) – Tiflis (Georgia) – Erivan (Armenia) triangle. Both prayer and non-directional formats abound and there are numerous subtypes depending on the town of origin as well as pattern similarities. Always popular with both collectors and decorators, the best examples were woven between 1840 and 1900 and rare exceed 6’ x 10’ in size. These are the most recognizable and paradigmatic of all Caucasian rugs, perennially popular in both Europe and America.
Kazak - Karachopf
A Kazak subtype woven in the village of Karachopf in Armenia characterized on its most salient and iconic form by a striking large, octagonal, ivory central medallion on a field either blue-green, blue or red. The pile is long, even shaggy and the weave no more than medium-coarse. The best ones are from the mid 19th century and display a barbaric power virtually unequalled among kazak weavings.
Kerman - Lavar (see Lavar Kerman)

The innermost of the trio of Silk Road cities (with Kashgar and Yarkand), Khotan weaves carpets mostly in the 6’ x 12’ size with recognizable Chinese iconography, but with central Asian elements and in brighter colors with distinct wool and handle. Later examples use synthetic dyes which have been treated to mellow the colors. Although this later period is not collectible, it is much in demand decoratively. A few smaller rugs and chair seat (2’ square) are also encountered.
Generically, are pileless, flat rug woven in a tapestry technique whether or not the color pattern joins are left open, or the slits are closed by interlocking or warp sharing. The technique is used all over the “rug belt” for quickly made simply patterned, inexpensive pieces. (Senha Kilims are the exception.) Kilims are made everywhere Turkey, the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan. The India dhurrie is a form of kilim and in the new world Navajo and Rio Grande blankets and rugs are also kilims. Designs are structurally determined and hence usually geometric, excepting the more delicate and curvilinear senha kilims. Besides use as floor coverings, kilims may be used for saddle bags and decorative hangings (pardeh), among other native uses.
The ancient central Turkish city of Iconium, it is the center of a large weaving area of many towns and villages, with a virtually continuous rug tradition going back either centuries, if not longer. All wool foundations are universal and designs are geometric, both for prayer and secular rugs. The weave is loose, but the long pile allows the tones of tomato red, clear yellow, greens, ivory and ambergine to shine. Only scatters and runners are woven, no large carpets. Because the wide range of types, styles, periods etc. There is no uniform valuation of the group but early ones of artistic importance fetch elevated prices.
The ancient central Turkish city of Iconium, it is the center of a large weaving area of many towns and villages, with a virtually continuous rug tradition going back either centuries, if not longer. All wool foundations are universal and designs are geometric, both for prayer and secular rugs. The weave is loose, but the long pile allows the tones of tomato red, clear yellow, greens, ivory and ambergine to shine. Only scatters and runners are woven, no large carpets. Because the wide range of types, styles, periods etc. There is no uniform valuation of the group but early ones of artistic importance fetch elevated prices.
Lavar Kerman
‘Lavar’ is a corruption of Ravar, a town near Kerman known for particularly good quality versions of the local type. More generally, any example of a 19th century Kerman of this weave, fine drawing, in either medallion or all over pattern is called a Lavar. The term has become one demoting quality and period rather than ascription of origin. The applicability of the term ended with WWI.
A town near Hamadan which in the late 19th century began weaving mostly runners in rust or dark blue tones and repeating patterns. In the 20th century, the American Saruk pattern was adopted. Identity as a specific weave type was lost in the 1920’s. The prices for a good condition Lilihans is still reasonable.
Precisely, this is the intermediate grade of carpet between Sarouks and Mushkabads from the Ferahan plain area. Arak Province, western Persia. Woven in large quantities in room sizes, the patterns tend to be overall repeats in traditional and innovative styles. Those pieces with slightly softer colors and bigger, bolder patterns are often called “Ziegler Mahals”. For the late 19th century onwards, production was very substantial, thousands of carpets per year, and prices for most pieces are moderate. The usual jewel tones predominate unless the piece has been exposed to light and washing, or to an initial chemical treatment. Mahals are popular everywhere and the overall patterns make them excellent for dining rooms.
The largest city in Khorassan Province, northeast Iran. The carpet industry there is a late 19th century creation of relocated Tabriz merchants. Both Turkish (Turkhaff) and Persian-(Farsihaft) knotted rugs are produced in large sizes up to 20’ x 30’, in rich colors including a mulberry. Red designs are strictly curvilinear and often large animals and birds appear. Open fields with medallion and corner ornamentation are common. The texture is thick and heavy. The use of jufti knots allows rapid production. In the 20th century, several renowned workshops (Emogli,
These are small rugs, often in prayer format, made in and around the town of Melas in southwest Turkey, near the Aegean Sea. The pile is short for a village rug, the colors favor red, yellow, pistachio green and light blue. Production reached a quality peak in the 19th century and all good ones predate 1900. Modern Melas work retains the same design motives but in a coarser and simplified manner. These are wholly commercial pieces and only the older ones are collectible.
Oushak - Ghiordes (see Ghiordes)

Qum - Silk
The ancient city of Qum in central Iran is famous for its religious shrines and for the silk rugs which began to be produced just before WWII. Sizes tend to be scatters and designs include a paneled garden arrangement, medallions and even pictorial representations. The weave is fine to very fine and the tonality may be slightly subdued to very bright and striking. The re-imposition of the trade embargo means that new Qums will not arrive from Iran and prices of available pieces may rise accordingly.
Mehmelbaff and others specialized in very high quality pieces aimed at the Persian market. Meshed carpets are not found in light, soft tones and hence are relative bargains in the current decorative market.
Sarouk Ferahan
Those carpets produced in the Ferahan plain area of Arak Province in western Iran at the end of the late 19th century up to WWI in fine weaves and high quality wool. Often they employ traditional medallion patterns. The fabric is of a firm, leathery texture, stiffer than the previous Ferahans. Sizes are generally 4’ x 6’, but room size pieces are available. These rugs are a transition to the full Sarouk weave popular after 1920.
Sarouk Mohajeran
A quality designation demoting Sarouks of the 1920’s in the “American” Sarouk pattern of detached floral sprays on a dark blue ground. The drawing tends to be more elegant and spacious than on the regular red examples. The weave is neat and extremely uniform. The term has been extended improperly to red Sarouks of the period, but in doing so has lost a quality description. These carpets are quite rare and tend to be in larger sizes. One in good condition is quite valuable.
Sanandaj or Senneh is the capital of Kurdistan province. Rugs made there and in the surrounding villages have a peculiar back with a rough, sandpaper texture. The front pile is very dry and can be almost abrasive, even in very fine pieces. The foundation is usually cotton, but some very fine pieces were woven on silk warps. Patterns are either layered medallions or overall, and the Herati design is very popular. The execution is precise and detailed. Present production is vestigial, but the best 19th century pieces, almost all 4’ x 6’ are jewel-like in quality.
This town on the edge of the Heriz area in Northwest Iran now almost exclusively weave runners in a restricted design range with a major use of camel tones in both field and border. This style and formality can be traced continuously back almost 200 years. Thus 19th century pieces can easily be chronologically located. Older pieces are all wool, but more modern rugs are on a cotton foundation. The pile is of high quality wool, compact. Turkish knotted and long wearing. Serab runners are among the worst recognizable and popular of Persian rugs.
Shiraz is the capital of Fars province in southwest Iran. Various tribal confederations inhabit the area (Qashgai, Khamseh, Luri) each with various subtribes and each with its own unique design style rugs called ‘Shiraz’ are usually of Khamseh type and generally of average quality. It may also be used as a portmanteau term for all Fars tribal weaving. It is to be avoided when a closer, more accurate tribal attribution is available, especially among the younger generation of carpet dealers.
Located in eastern Turkey, Sivas is an old rug-making town, producing small pieces in traditional geometric fratilian style. But beginning in the late 19th century, large carpets were produced for the same markets as those from Persian Tabriz. Indeed so closely do they mimic the latter that they are often called the “Turkish Tabriz”. On cotton foundations, the colors are light, even pastel and the weave is firmer than the typical village rug. Patterns are taken from the Tabriz style corpus and open fields with medallions are frequent. Sizes run up to 12’ x 18’ and prices tend to be less than either Ushaks or Tabriz carpets.
Both a weaving technique and a product thereof. Technically, it involves a progressive and continuous wrapping of warps by pattern wefts on the loom to form a pileless carpet, heavier than a kilim. Exact versions of the method may vary depending on location. Most popular in the Caucasus, especially around Kuba and northwest Iran, one version or another appears elsewhere in Persia. In the Caucasus this process results I room size carpets up to 9’ x 13’. Besides Kuba the Karabagh, Shirvan and other districts also indulge in the artform. The Shah savan tribes of Persian Azerbaijan use the technique to construct saddle bags and other household carryalls. The two sides of a Soumac are not identical.
Arak province in western Iran encompasses the town of Sultanabad and various satellite villages, all of which weave for export:the sarouk, Mahal and MushKabad. The latter two grades comprise the sultanabad production. Virtually all are large carpets, up to 16’ x 25’, with overall, or medallions on decorated or open fields, in soft to bright colors on a cotton foundation, the pile is lowish. The design corpus includes the ever popular Herati, the Harshang palmette motif, rosettes and arabesques, small repeated medallions, etc. The weave varies from coarse to medium. Today, the soft colored pieces with bold patterns are particularly favored. Prices range widely, low for commercial pieces 50 years old, astronomical for light colored Zieglers (see below).
Sultanabad - Ziegler
A British firm, Ziegler & co., was established in Sultanabad in the early 1880’s and soon had thousands of looms, and ancillary infrastructure weaving carpets to its particular specifications for export to the West. Designs were given to the weavers in samplers (wagireh) to be reproduced and the resulting works, carpets with unusually bold palmettes, powerful medallions and lighter tonalities, are highly prized today. The term has been arbitrarily extended to cover any large sultanabad/mahal carpet in mellow tones with an over scale pattern, whether or not Ziegler had a hand in its production.
Tabriz is the seat of Persian Azerbaijan Province, a large industrial and commercial city with a long history as a past national capital and as an artistic center. The weaving industry was revived there in the 19th century and is carried out in factories where rugs are closely supervised. Quality control is a feature of Tabriz pieces and various grades up to very fine, extremely large carpets may be had. When the colors have mellowed and condition is good, they are extremely valuable and popular with decorators every where. Medallion and overall patterns are woven equally successfully. Silk carpets were popular from this area before 1930 and a few are still made. Sizes range from 2’ x 3’ to ones 20’ x 30’. Prices are moderate for the lower grades and upwards.
Technically, any neff patered fabric in which the discontinuous wefts are separated by slits, or are joined by warp sharing or weft interlocking. In this broad sense, a tapestry could be Turkish (kilim), Chinese (silk Kesi), Peruvian, Navaho. Indian (Dhurrie),etc. More precisely as an art form it refers to European wall hangings made in that technique from court and commercial workshops from Flanders to France, Italy, Germany, England and Spain, from the 14th century onward. Pictorial subjects predominate in period pieces, but some are abstract armorials. Modern tapestry designs are often by major artists and are adapted from pre-existing paintings. Traditionally, the subjects have been narrative (mythological, historical, religious) on descriptions (landscapes). The subject is vast, the price range equally so, from decorative up to highly important period works of cut. Carpets are made in tapestry weave – see Aubusson. Bessarabian entries. See also Tapestry- Flemish, French, Verdure.
Tapestry - Verdure
Verdure tapestries are usually either French or Flemish in origin and are defined by their subject matter: a close up landscape of trees, bushes, flowers and foliage, with few animals and almost no human presence except for a background building or two. They began in the 15th century with the millefleurs (1000 flowers) type, continued in the 16th with the large leaf style and then later through the 18th century with more conventional patterns suitable to middle class tastes. Most examples are relatively small, suitable for urban apartments. The pattern wefting is wool, with a few silk accents, and the weave is of medium quality.
Turkman - Hatchli
The various nomadic Turkman tribes of central Asia wove a variety of rug furnishings for their tents. Among these is the hatchli (so called from the Armenian Khatchar or cross), also called ‘engsi’, in a 4-panel field design. These rugs functioned as doors for the yurt. Every tribe had a version of this basic type employing the quartered field in combination with distinctive borders and decorative extra panels. The sizes are about 4’ x 5’ to 5’ x 7’, and the weave and colors match the other creations of the appropriate tribe.
Yomud (Tent Band
The Yomuds are one of the largest Turkman tribes, now resident in Turkmenistan and northeast Iran. Seasonally migratory, their dominal felt tents (yurts) are encircled by bands to stabilize the structure, like hoops on a barrell. Plain flat woven bands are utilitarian for daily use, but pile relief bands, about 40’ long, were woven by brides for their dowries. Complete antique bands are desirable collector’s items and are truly tribal works of art. Although superficially similar, no two are alike.
A general term referring to ‘tribal nomad’ but always used to denote Kurdish tribes in eastern Anatolia. Although the Kurds have been resident there for centuries, it is rare to find a pre-1800 Yuruk rug. Almost all are in scatter sizes, with a few runners. The patterns are geometric, though not as stark as the Kazaks made relatively nearby. Earth tones, oranges and rusts predominate, and the structure is all wool. Each tribe has its own design repertory.
Yuruk - Turkish (see Yuruk)