Rugs: Glossary (M-Z)Your Guide to Rug Terminology
Want to learn more about some of the terminology we use to identify and describe our selection of over 13,000 area rugs? Use our Rug Glossary to look up important rug terms related to style classifications, rug constructions, rug techniques, rug materials as well as the history of traditional weaving styles.
Machine-Made These area rugs are made on power loom by hand, machine or computer. The loom is strung with a cotton or jute warp and then woven using nylon, polypropylene, wool or other material. Computer operated machines produce a number of contemporary designs in various sizes and colors from a predetermined design. More than 40 shades can be achieved in a single area rug using a cross-weaving technique. Machine-made area rugs have become very popular due to the variety of sizes, colors, designs, lower-pricing and availability.
Medallion Large design in the middle of some oriental and European rug styles.
Mahal These rugs represent the combination of Perisan and European design influences. These beautifully intricate rugs offer the best of both world in their floral and medallion-based patterns.
Make An attribute that determines where a rug was made.
Motifs Single or repeated elements of a rug pattern.
Multi-Level Loop Pile Varied heights of yarn loops that create a three dimensional effect.
Nap Surface or pile of a rug.
Natural Rug Rugs made of natural fibers that are usually ivory or neutral colored. Texture is the main feature of these rugs.
Natural Dyes Dyes used for coloring weaving yarns that can be either plant dyes, animal dyes, or mineral dyes.
Needlepoint Rug A needlepoint rug making technique made with wool yarns worked on canvas using the same method as a needlepoint pillow.
Nylon Nylon is a durable synthetic fiber which also has good dyeing characteristics. Nylon yarns can can be solution dyed, skin dyed and/or space dyed.
Oltenian Considered to be the finest type of kilim rug, usually featuring ornate flower and leaf patterns.
Oriental Out-of-date word for 'of the Eastern World', or the region of the world that was found by early European explorers who circled Africa.
Ottoman The mighty Turkish dynasty that ruled Perisa from 1290-1924. The name is deriven from its establisher Osman.
Pattern The design or form of lines on a rug. A pattern is usually curvilinear, geometric, or pictorial.
Pendant A small, floral design that extends from the top and bottom of a medallion in the center of a rug.
Persian Knot Knot that is tied onto two warp strands, wrapped around one and looped behind the other. (See also Asymmetrical Knot.)
Pile Surface of the rug formed by cut ends of the knots.
Pile Height Height of the pile, measured by tenths of an inch from the top surface of the rug backing to the top of the pile's surface.
Pile Weight Weight of pile yarn per square yard of the rug.
Plush Cut pile rug in which the tuft ends blend together.
Ply Number of yarns spun together to form a tuft of pile. Measurement of the yarn's thickness.
Point One tuft of pile.
Polyester Synthetic fiber most often used in staple spun yarns.
Polypropylene Polypropylene or Olefin fibers are petroleum-based synthetic materials derived from propylene and ethylene gases. The fiber is characterized by its resistance to moisture. It is often heat-set to guarantee vibrant color, long lasting beauty and easy maintenance. It is quick drying and mildew, soil and stain resistant. Its fibers have the lowest density of all manufactured fibers giving olefin textiles a very lightweight quality.
Power Loom A loom operated by mechanical or electronic power.
Prayer Rug One-sided rug with an arch at the top of the field. Small versions of these rugs were once designed and used for kneeling while reciting prayers. Prayer rugs are woven in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East.
Primary Backing Backing in a tufted carpet into which the tufts are inserted. The backing is then bonded with latex on its back side to hold the tufts in place.
Quatref Round motif with four symmetrical lobes.
Raj Knots per 7 centimeters, or 2 and 1/2 inches.
Resilience The durability of a rugs carpet pile or cushion under heavy use.
Rhubarb An edible plant in the Rheum family, whose leaves bear a copper-red dye used in rugs of China, India, and Tibet.
Rosette Motif that looks like a round flower. (See also Gul)
Rug Pad A rug pad helps to keep your rug in place, but it also helps to prolong the life of a rug by cushioning it from the floor by absorbing the weight of traffic.
Runner Long, narrow rug used primarily for hallways and stairways.
Saffron A plant with purple or white flowers and orange stigmas whos dye was used on some early rugs in China, India, and the Balkans.
Savonnerie The name given to French piled carpets made until 1890 that look similar to Persian Kermans. These rugs were more foot friendly than their cousin the Aubusson and had an impressionist quality many find very appealing. This rug is the model for many of today's Indian and Persian rugs.
Sarouk (Serouk) Beautiful factory woven carpets from central Iran and Iranian Azerbaijan, manufactured for export.
Saxony Cut pile rugs made with a dense cut pile and heavy yarns. Similar to shag rug, but with shorter pile.
Seagrass A salt marsh grass that is grown in paddy-like fields and flooded with sea water during the crop cycle. The hard, almost inpenetrable seagrass is spun into tough strands which resist most stains and dirt. Material is anti-static and provides a low dust and allergy-free environment. Seagrass rugs have excellent durability, are non-toxic and colorfast and create healthy indoor humidity levels. These rugs are intended for indoor use only.
Secondary Backing In tufted carpet, an additional backing is bonded onto the primary backing with latex.
Semi-Worsted Combing process that removes shorter fibers, resulting in a more lustrous looking yarn.
Setting For good tuft definition, yarns are twisted and then 'set' with heat to hold the twist's shape.
Shag Rug Contemporary rug style with long, typically synthetic, pile.
Shah Abbas Design that features feather and lotus motifs. Popular pattern in many modern Persian rugs.
Shedding New rugs sometimes lose loose fibers, but it is not harmful to the carpet.
Sheen The luster of a carpet that usually comes from having a special chemical wash.
Silk An expensive fiber that comes from the cocoon of silkworms.
Sisal Plant of the genus Agave that yields a fiber often used for making natural rope. The name sisal is used for both the plant and for the fiber. Sometimes referred to as hemp, sisal is not actually hemp but a fiber that resembles it. Sisal rugs are natural rugs, woven from sisal fibers. (See also Wool Sisal.)
Spandrels Corner designs in the field of a rug, often arc shaped.
Strapwork Interlacing pattern resembling straps.
Soumak Weave Complex reversible rugs that are woven with a weft-wrapping technique. Extra wefts of dyed wool are added to create a pattern, like a brocade.
Static Build-up of electric charge when a person walks over a carpet. Occurs with both natural and synthetic fibers, and is effected by humidity.
Style The way different motifs, colors, and patterns give a rug its character.
Sultanabad Rug designs which originated in Northwestern Iran. Using intricate vine patterns and repeating floral motifs, these rugs were sculpted to give Persian designs a European flair.
Synthetic Fibers Synthetic fibers are used exclusively in machine-made rugs. These fibers are non-porous, meaning that they are inherently stain proof. They resist staining from almost any chemical. They are very durable, yet they feel soft and are incredibly easy to maintain.
Tabriz Originate from the city of Tabriz in Northwestern Iran. Designs feature knotted symmetrical patterns, usually with a floral motif.
Tapestry In rug terminology tapestry refers to a weft face weave with complicated designs. (See also Brocade.)
Tea Wash Process used to antique the colors of the rug.
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 Distinctive knotting technique that originated in Tibet and has now spread to other regions. A rod is placed in front of the warp. A single strand of yarn is then wrapped around two warps and then around the rod. When the row is finished, the rod is removed and the resulting loops are cut, creating the pile.
Tip Shear Cut pile rugs where some of the loops of yarn are left uncut. This finishing style is desirable since it minimizes tracking and flattening effects.
Tone-on-Tone Two or more tones of the same color in a rug. This look is achieved either by mixing yarns of different tones or by using the same color of yarn in a rug with both cut and looped pile.
Tracking A footprint effect on carpets. The effect is temporary and disappears after a vacuuming.
Traditional Style name that refers to the characteristic designs of the European and Oriental/Persian schools of weaving. Modern traditional rugs replicate the classic patterns, colors, and styles of antique rugs.
Transitional Broad style that falls between traditional European and Oriental rug designs and new contemporary styles. Floral and botanical patterns are good examples of rugs in this category.
Tribal Rug Style of rug woven by North American or Middle Eastern tribal peoples, or woven in the traditional styles or patterns of these groups.
Tufted Rug Technique of punching tufts of wool through the base fabric. Used to create inexpensive versionse of hand-knotted rugs. (See also Hand-Tufted.)
Turret Gul Octagonal motif with eight points and another small octagon in the center of the gul.
Turkish Knot (Senneh) Symmetrical knot 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 weft is then compressed against the row of knots with a heavy metal comb and a new row of knots is started. After the rug has been completely woven, the loops of wool are then clipped, creating the pile of the rug.
Twist Winding of the yarn around itself to create a neat, well-defined strand. A yarn twist that is tighter provides added durability.
Vegetable dyes Dyes made of natural plant materials, like bark. These dyes contain no synthetic chemicals and tend to fade more rapidly than some synthetic alternatives, like chrome dyes.
Velour Cut-pile with a velvety surface.
Verneh Rug featuring a motif of interlocking birds.
Village Rug Rugs made by a group of people in shifts, working around the clock. Most large tribal carpets are made in this manner.
Warp Vertical strands of weave that extend through the entire length of the rug. The warps are the yarns onto which the knots are tied and the wefts are woven.
Washing Chemical treatment of wool rugs that tones down the colors and gives the rug a soft texture. Sometimes imitates the effects of aging. Some purists believe that rugs should be allowed to age without the wash.
Weft Strands of yarn that run across the width of the rug between warp threads. The weft threads hold the pile knots in place.
William Morris An English design firm that was named for its establisher. The firm specialized in creating hybrid rugs of middle eastern designs combined with western tastes. Most beautiful designs could be found in institutional locations, such as grand hotels and government buildings.
Wilton Rug Machine-loomed carpets with limited color palettes. Modern Wilton rugs were the first type to be made on a computerized machine. Wilton cross-weaving offers great flexibility in color placement and design.
Wool Fiber acquired from the hair of sheep, goats and a selection of other domesticated animals, including alpacas.
Wilton Side Woven The Wilton side woven area rugs are woven in a fashion, but at a 90 degree angle to the above area occasion. Cotton backing is to give these area rugs a softer feel.
Wool Sisal Wool sisal-look rugs are popular alternatives to real sisal (coir and seagrass).
Worsted Wool An extra step in wool processing that combs out shorter fibers resulting in durable and lustrous yarns.
Woven Carpets Carpet made on a weaving loom where backing threads and pile are woven at the same time, creating strong anchors for the tufts. Axminster and Wilton are both well known woven carpets, offering a wider range of patterns.
Yarn Cord of twisted fibers.
Zaronim Rug that measures about 3' x 5'.