Home | Rugs | Learn All About Handmade Rug Types & Terms in our Rug Glossary!

Learn All About Handmade Rug Types & Terms in our Rug Glossary!

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We don’t mean to brag, but our rug gallery is one of the most unique in New England, and is absolutely stacked with a large and distinctive collection of only the most beautiful, handmade pieces. Bold, vibrant, understated, detailed, simplistic, and a great mix of both modern and traditional – we have got something for everyone’s taste. For me, the most interesting part of a visit to the rug gallery is all the incredible history behind each type of rug, and the huge level of detail and work that goes into the creation of every one. Touring the gallery with Callum McPherson will give you a first hand look into the amazing world of handmade carpets. You can learn about the origin of the rug, the techniques used to weave it, the history of the design style, and so much more. To prepare for our upcoming rug sale, we are creating several guides on how to purchase a rug for your home. Here is a glossary of terminology, important to know when viewing and purchasing. Check back soon for our free rug buying guide later this month!

Design and Technique Terms:

Abrash 
Difference in color throughout the rug. This comes from the variations of the wool used to weave the rug. When the wool is dyed before the rug is woven, the dye reflects differently based on the specific pile of wool it is used on. These variations in color give the rug a natural feel.

Flat Weave 
A type of rug, which is woven, rather than knotted. They are much flatter and thinner than knotted rugs because they do not have pile. This makes the rugs easier to transport, and they are therefore still utilized all over the world as wall tapestries, for prayer rugs, and as saddle pads. Many middle eastern countries still weave these by hand, while other rug manufacturers have switched to machinery and tools to produce rugs faster, which also makes the rugs less expensive than the hand woven ones. (note: Mohr & McPherson does not specialize in machine made rugs.)

Overdyed 
A recent technique developed to give rugs, an overall color and a more modern esthetic. Often this is done to salvage an old rug, which will have had undesirable colors or have become faded. The original color is stripped down to more of the natural base colors and the rug is saturated with one, vibrant color. By Dying over the original colors and designs, the rug becomes more fluid and flexible in style. It is easier to add a rug to a room when it is one color, rather than multi colored and heavily patterned, such as the traditional Eastern rugs that were popular in the west in the early to mid 20th century. Now people are looking for less design, which can make a bolder statement, while still remaining simple. The original markings of the rug can still be detected beneath the dye, giving it a rustic quality, and creating nuances and variations within the solid color.

Pile Weave 
A type of rug which is knotted rather than woven on a loom. It consists of three layers- the base threads, normally made of cotton which, are the foundation, a woven layer that acts as a cushion, and the final layer, which is the ends of each individual knot after being cut and is called the pile of a rug. You can run your hand over the top layer of this rug, and the pile will brush back and forth. This is where sheen may come into play.

Sheen 
When buying a rug, you may be looking for one with a certain level of sheen. When walking around the perimeter of the rug, you will observe that the light picks up certain colors more brightly from different angles, and the shadow of each thread makes it appear darker. This is based on the direction the knots were tied in, in relation to the angle you are looking from. If the brightness and depth of the colors does not change with your position, the rug does not have a high level of sheen. This is a result of both the quality of wool or silk used in the rug and the washing process done before use.. Silk rugs will also always have a much higher level of sheen than wool. This element is relevant when purchasing a pile rug, but will not be a concern with a flat weave rug.

Styles of Rugs:

Beni Ourain (Thick Pile) 
This style of rug is named after the Beni Ourain tribe in Morocco, which is made up of 17 different Berber tribes within the Atlas Mountains. This tribe is known for their plush, soft, cream-colored rugs, with black or brown stripes, usually in diagonal, intersecting patterns. The rugs are made from sheep wool. The vintage Beni Ourain rugs are neautral in color and abstract in design, which is perfect for the modern décor styles of today. They are versatile, and low in price. During the birth of modern design in the 20th century, these rugs were used by many famous designers, and are therefore linked with classic modern style. The vintage ones were not massed produced originally, and no two are alike. Now they are extremely popular and made in several different countries.

 

Indian Dhurrie (Flatweave)
This style of flatweave is almost always made from tightly woven cotton, which gives it a light feel and makes for the perfect rug in a light room. The colors used in an Indian Dhurrie are often brighter pastel colors and look very current when coupled with their traditional geometric patterns.

Khotan (Pile)
These are similar to the Mamluks, but less geometrical. The designs, while also based often around a center diamond shape, are more flowery and delicate than the framework of the Mamluk.

Kilim (Flatweave) (Persia, Turkey, Balkans and Eastern Europe) 
This style dates back to the 5th century. and is a flat weave with no pile. The patterns are based in a geometric style, often featuring medallions, diamonds, and the famous Mahi (Herati) design which is a diamond medallion with a small fish through in. Unlike the Mamluk, the rug is not always focused on one, large and central diamond. The pattern may be free form and repeating. The more modern versions of the Kilim sometimes in cooperate turquoise, and purple with the traditional reds, green, blue and white. The boldness and geometric quality of the patterns have also become more strong and distinct with modern times. Rug collectors often start with Kilims, because they are cheaper than Pile rugs. It is sometimes thought that because Kilims tend to be less expensive that they are also less substantial in quality or status. This is not true, and Kilims have become increasingly popular in recent years. The lower price was originally based on the Kilims being produced for indigenous use, instead of on a commercial level. Kilims gained popularity when collectors started to value authentic village weavings.

Mamluk (Pile)
This is a type of rug based in traditional style, always featuring a large, central diamond. These are similar to the traditional Eastern rugs you might see in your grandmother’s house, especially in the framework. However, the Mamluk’s style is much more geometrically based. These rugs are currently very desirable, as they provide both traditional and modern style.

Oushak (Pile)
Traditionally from Turkey-the Oushak is a style of rug which has found recent popularity due to it’s subdued light or earthy tones. Another distinction comes in their unique style of weave where the sides of the knots are visible, so each rug has a unique feel. Their designs often include either central medallions, representative of designs used on Ottoman Manuscripts, or the “Star Ushak”. The patterns are often a combination of geometric and floral motifs, mixed together. The colors are distinctive and tend to include a variety of orange shades, reds, maroons and blues in the background. The motif colors are usually greens, blues, ivory, black and yellow. The colors often look faded, giving this style of rug has an incredibly rustic, and aged feel.

Patchwork (Pile)
Patchwork rugs have very recently become a popular reuse of rugs which may have been damaged or tattered. These rugs are given a new life by being repurposed as a very rustic looking collection of different patterns (often overdyed) and stitched together. Patchworked rugs will give any room a great splash of color while preserving the legacy and authentic feel of an antique hand made rug. Although these rugs are made from what were originally pile rugs, they often have very little of the pile left which is what gives them an antique look and feel.


Sari Silk
The same silk that goes into a traditional Indian sari has recently been used to effectively take beautiful traditional patterns and bring them to life. Not only do they have the extremely high level of sheen that is found in a silk rug but they also have a vibrant color scheme that will make you forget everything you just learned about rugs!

Traditional Oriental/Persian Rug
These rugs always have a border, and typically are centered on a large, central design, such as a medallion or diamond. They are heavily designed and pattered, and tend to have a somewhat muted color palette compared to the vibrant colors used in modern overdye. These rugs are based in structure and form.

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