So we’ve put together a little glossary of terms. The what’s what and things to think of when you’re considering investing in a handmade rug.
Kilim flatweave: tapestry-style rugs hand-woven in Iran, Pakistan and the Balkans.
Handmade with natural dye and wool, the weaving of these rugs is a highly regarded folk art. Unlike other rugs, flatweaves do NOT have pile. This makes them generally softer and thinner than other rugs from the same region.
Kilims can vary from inexpensive to museum quality pieces depending on their quality.
- Both soft and bold colours with geometrical patterns
- Can be reversible
- And reflects the traditions of its region
Naen or Nain: elegant Iranian carpets produced in and around the city of Nain, some 60 miles east of the enchanted city of Isfahan. A favourite of many collectors, these rugs are intricate, delicate and strikingly beautiful.
Hand-woven by talented artisans, a single rug can take several years to complete. Excellent grades of wool and silk are used exclusively on a foundation of fine cotton or silk.
- Mostly beige and blue with silken highlights
- Many of the finer pieces will be signed by their master weaver
Balouchi: hand-woven Persian rugs crafted by nomadic tribes in South-east Iran, featuring designs inspired by their travels. Their tightly packed pile is created with thick, lustrous wool, hand-spun from local camel or sheep.
Highly collectable + known for their durability, these rugs endure many years in high traffic areas such as hallways, bedrooms and living rooms. Natural vegetable dyes are used for the most part, ensuring colour purity that forms a soft, subtle patina with time + use.
- Predominantly rich burgundy in colour with dark navy and beige accents
- Usually have an overall geometric pattern
Kazak: hand-woven rugs from Pakistan, generally crafted by Caucasian women in the communities between the Black and Caspian sea, using skills passed down since 5 BC.
Often incorporating strands of silver and gold, these rugs were a status symbol found in palaces, churches and the homes of the rich, or even on the throne of the king.
- Large-scale patterns, dramatic colours and the presence of medallions designs
- Quality wool is dyed with natural materials, creating a soft, luminous finish
Hand-knotted: any pile rug where craftsmen thread fibres through a criss-crossed backing and knot them to create pile. This pile is then shaved to create a uniform length.
Examples range from the vibrant functional pieces of nomadic tribespeople to the highly complex designs created by teams of weavers in metropolitan Iran.
- Common materials used include cotton, wool and silk
- Styles + qualities are as varied as the artisans who produce them
The use of colour and its meaning
Handcrafted rugs incorporate many of the traditional elements and cultural resonances of the regions they come from. Colour is used to imbue meaning and enhance the functionality of each piece.
We’ve listed out the common associations for each colour below. Which of these qualities would you like to draw into your home?
White – peace and purity
Blue – tranquillity and peace
Red – great joy, happiness and success
Yellow – the colour of the sun, riches and glory
Green – constancy, a spring that always returns, regarded as a sacred colour
Brown – acceptance
Orange – devotion
Pink – piety
Many of the rich colours used in authentic Persian rugs are obtained from traditional vegetable dyes – blue from the indigo plant, subtle browns from walnut husks, rich reds from madder roots or from the bodies of tiny cochineal insects.