The ABC's of Rug Terminology

rug stall at a flea market

If you're in the market for an Oriental rug, knowing the lingo is more than just a perk—it's essential for making an informed purchase. From assessing quality to understanding craftsmanship, the terms you'll find in this glossary are fundamental for any buyer. While this list offers a strong starting point, keep in mind it's not exhaustive. Consider this your go-to guide for the basics, equipping you to explore the rich and intricate world of Oriental rugs with confidence.

All over

A design featuring an allover, repeating pattern.


Color variations in the rug, often seen in handmade rugs and considered a sign of authenticity.


A rug that is at least 100 years old. The term is often used to describe high-value Oriental rugs.


Persian 'paisley' type design


The structural base of the rug, usually made of cotton, wool, or synthetic materials.


The design that frames the main field of the rug, often intricate in Oriental designs.


Coloring agents used for fibers; can be natural, like vegetable dyes, or synthetic.


The main area of the rug, inside the border, often containing a medallion or other central motifs.


The threads or tassels at the ends of the rug; an extension of the rug's warp.


A weaving technique where each knot is individually tied to the warp threads, common in high-quality Oriental rugs.

Knot Density

The number of knots per square inch or centimeter; a higher count often indicates higher quality.


The frame on which the rug is woven, can be either horizontal or vertical.


A central motif or design, often surrounded by intricate patterns.


Term used to describe rugs from Asia, including Persian, Afghan, and other traditional styles.


The surface fibers or yarns of the rug, cut or looped.


A term that encompasses various factors like knot density, material, and craftsmanship to evaluate a rug's overall standard.


A long, narrow rug often used in hallways or between rooms.


The edge of the rug, where the weft threads return, either tucked into the rug or left as a fringe.


A protective pad placed under the rug to extend its life and provide cushioning.

Vegetable Dye

Natural dyes sourced from plants, known for their subtlety and depth of color.

Warp and Weft

The vertical and horizontal threads forming the rug's foundation.


Used to describe the pile height, or the length of the rug fibers, which can impact its look and feel.


Spun fibers used to create the pile; can be made from wool, silk, or synthetic materials.