Rug Lexicon



Reference Guide

Terms related to the crafting, designing, symbolism, tradition and the general realm of antique rugs and their makers.

Craft & Design

Fine Sheep Wool

The wool from young sheep (about 1 year old) is very fine and white in color.  As a result, this type of wool absorbs and retains color much better than the wool of older sheep, which grow coarse, grey hair.

Rugs made using fine sheep wool are more vivid in color and feel softer to the touch than rugs made using regular wool.

Jawal Bag

Jawal bags are used by the middle eastern nomads for multiple purposes.

  1. When the nomads migrated from cold to warmer weather, their Jawal bags were filled with merchandise and tied closed at the top with rope.  These bags were then carried on the backs of camels to their owner’s next destination.
  2. When not being used in migration, the bags were often filled and used as pillows, or hung on the wall as decoration.

The makers of these bags hand weaved their culture, beliefs, thoughts, wishes and symbols into these multi-purpose pieces of art with the intention of conveying ancient art and culture to future generations.

As these bags were inherited by surviving family members, they became heirlooms, memorializing the ancestors that received them.

These bags are a lost art. They are no longer made due to the duration of time required to craft them.


A Kilim is a type of rug that was woven flat.  These types of rugs are not as plush as pile rugs, but provide a higher level of durability and resilience to wear.

Kilim rugs were often favored over pile rugs by middle-eastern countrymen as they represent a more humble, simple life.

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis lazuli forms over approximately 10,000 years, and can only be found 2,000-3,000 feet beneath the surface of the earth.  The mining of lapis lazuli is a major industry in Afghanistan, as many artists use the stone to create art.

In Middle-Eastern culture, Lapis Lazuli is believed to bring good luck to anyone that wears it.

Some people believe that when lapis is submerged in water, the water is purified.

Cleopatra believed that lapis from Afghanistan is a stone that gives it’s wearer power and energy. She believed that if it touches the skin, it has the power to heal.

Natural Dyes

The dyes used in many antique rugs are created from all-natural ingredients.

The bark of trees, roots of wild desert plants, fruits, leaves, and flower petals made great sources for a dye maker’s color.

A good dye maker can create colored wool that retains its vivid appearance for hundreds of years.

The rich deep blue hue found in many rugs comes from indigo.


A Pile rug is thick and plush, a characteristic obtained from loops of woven-fabric.  These types of rugs were often favored by people of importance for their soft feel and intricate designs.


Suzani is a special type of hand needle-work that gives the final product, whether it is a jawal bag or a kilim rug, a very strong and resilient design.

This type of needle-work can withstand the harshest of desert migrations and many years of use.



Birds, or representations of birds, are often used in Middle-Eastern culture to express freedom and a desire to live a simple, humble, free life.


Black: Protection from Evil

Blue: Clarity, Sky, Water

Camel: Humility

Green: Good luck, Prosperity

Purple: Spirit

Red: Exotic

White: Purity, Cleanliness

Yellow: Love


It is said that the egg shaped design brings good balance to the body, and brings harmony to internal bodily functions.

The egg shape also represents fertility, femininity, and good luck.


The fang represents power and is said to provide safety and good luck.


Fish, like the color blue, represent clarity, and a life that is very simple.  Fish are simple creatures; they swim in and drink water only, and have no special wishes or ambitions.

The combination of the fish and flower symbols represent the coming of spring


The season of Spring is represented by the flowers that it brings.


A precious metal favored by Middle-Eastern city dwellers and people of social significance for its luster and beauty.


Gül (or Gol), meaning flower, was developed in the 16th century by Middle-Eastern weavers when the king asked that a special design be created for the princess of Bukhara.

Since that time, the fame of Gül has spread throughout Europe, North America and other continents.


A symbol of the kingdom of Qajar.


A niche in the wall of a mosque, at the point nearest to Mecca, toward which the congregation faces to pray.


A precious metal favored by Middle-Eastern country folk for its purity and beauty in simplicity.


When used in Middle-Eastern art, symbols of stars are used to express and represent good luck.


A telesma is a container of energy and/or writings of something good and beautiful from the Koran, the Bible, other spiritual literature, love poetry, or famous literature by poets such as Hafiz, Saidi, Mowlawi, and others.

It is said that when a telesma is worn, it brings safety, blessings, and good luck to its wearer.


Dowry Gift

A Dowry gift was hand crafted and then given as a wedding gift when a girl in the village got married.

Dowry gifts are very different, and much better than standard, every-day items.  Every dowry gift was made with great care and extra work was done to ensure that the gift was beautiful, high quality, and well designed.

A dowry gift reflected the pride of a family and represented how special their daughter was to them.


A special ceremony that combines Sofreh and the beginning of a new year.

Special dishes and decor such as bowls containing live fish and flower vases are spread out for the ceremony.

Seeing Color

It is said that when you view the colors and dyes with your eyes, they have the power to bring into your life the energy of the subjects that they represent.


A spread of items for eating and a tablecloth laid out on the floor.

"It is said that when you view the colors and dyes with your eyes, they have the power to bring into your life the energy of the subjects that they represent." -Sadiq Tawfiq


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