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Terms & Definitions



Common Terms and Definitions

Factory: We use the term "factory carpet" to identify handmade pieces woven on looms located in a central location, such as a warehouse. Each factory usually contains multiple looms and the weavers "go to work" there. Two or three weavers might sit side-by-side and work simultaneously on some of the larger pieces. Designs are usually woven from set patterns and factory production control practices are in place. Therefore, the quality of these carpets tends to be uniform and the designs can be easily replicated.

Jufti Knot: A knot, either Persian or Turkish, tied over four, instead of two, warp strings. This practice reduces by half the number of knots that could have been tied. I understand that the use of the jufti knot is not uncommon in modern production from Kashmir. I have also read that the life of a jufti-knotted carpet is less than that of a regular carpet, but I have not been able to either confirm or disprove that claim.

Kilim: A kilim is a "flat weave" carpet. Instead of arranging knots on the warp strings as in a pile carpet, kilim weavers wrap yarn around the warp using various techniques to produce the desired pattern. A kilim is also woven between the last row of pile and the fringe on almost every pile carpet. This kilim acts as an anchor for the pile, and it is often decorated, effectively adding an additional border. Kilim weaving, decorations and length can be useful tools in identifying a carpet's origin.

Knot Count: The number of knots on the horizontal and vertical sides of a one inch square section of carpet. We record the horizontal count first, followed by the vertical count. On carpets with semi-ridged and open backs, both sides of each knot are visible, so therefore, we count two "bumps" as one knot. On carpets with ridged backs, only one side of the knot is visible, so we count a single "bump"as one knot.

Knot Density: This is the number of knots per square inch (kpsi) and is calculated by multiplying the number of horizontal knots by the number of vertical knots. All other factors being equal, knot density can be an indicator of quality. One should not, however, rely on knot density alone to determine whether or not a particular carpet is a "good" or "better" piece. Knot densities for carpets owned by Seccade Collections range from fewer than 50 kpsi to more than 1500 kpsi.

Loom: A loom is a frame used to support the carpet during the weaving process. This sketch shows the basic anatomy of a loom:

For further information on looms see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loom

Persian Knot: This knot is formed by looping the yarn over one warp and under the other. The end of the yarn going over the warp is brought back up between the warp strings, but the other end is allowed to "float." When looking into the pile of a carpet, it appears as if the ends of the pile emerge from the side of the knot. If the ends are on the weaver's left, we say the knot is open left. If they are on the weaver's right, we say the knot is open right. The following drawings illustrate these two variations.

Open Left
Open Right

Pile: After each knot is tied, the weaver cuts the yarn, leaving an uneven, shaggy surface. Once the carpet is complete and has been removed from the loom, the pile is trimmed - often by hand, using large scissors - to a uniform length. Whether the pile is high or short depends on the final trimming. Shorter pile makes the design more distinct, but if it is cut too short, vertical ridges can appear in the pile and the carpet will not wear well. The pile normally "leans" toward the bottom of the loom, where the weaving was started, and it can easily be felt by rubbing the hand up and down the length of the carpet, "with" and "against" the pile. The lie of the pile is what causes the dramatic color differences when looking at silk or merino wool carpets. The darker shades are evident when looking into the ends of the pile (against the pile), and the lighter shades are more prominent when looking along the shaft of the pile (with the pile). Be cautious of pile that stands up straight. Straight pile is an indication that the carpet has been chemically treated, and if you expect it to stay nice and springy and thick, you could soon be disappointed.

Seccade: Seccade (seh-ZHA-deh) is a Turkish word translated literally as "prayer carpet." Today, the word is commonly used for any carpet whose size is between approximately 3' X 5' and approximately 5' X 7'.

Selvedge: The selvedge is located along the edges of handmade carpets to "finish off" the sides. To make a selvedge, the weaver uses the last one or more warp strings on each side of the carpet. She will wrap it/them with woolen yarn, silk, or sometimes, animal hair, forming a "cable" that protects the edges of the carpet. Some selvedges are wrapped in solid colors and some in multi-colors. Selvedge material and design can be useful tools in carpet identification.

Tribal: We use "tribal carpet" to refer to pieces either identifiable to a specific nomadic tribe, to pieces woven on collapsible, horizontal looms or to pieces obviously woven for the weavers' personal use. Some of the designs are not very sophisticated, and the carpets may be bulky and coarse, having been woven specifically for use in the nomadic environment, and not for sale. Occasionally, however, a tribal "gem" is found which reflects the weaver's pride in her home and in her weaving skills.

Turkish Knot: This knot is formed by looping the yarn over two warp strings and then bringing both ends up between the warps. When looking into the pile of a carpet, it appears that both ends are encircled by the loop. The following drawing illustrates the Turkish knot.

Turkish Knot

Type Back: This term reflects to the way the weaver uses different size wefts and how much tension she applies to them. If the weft strings are of the same weight and the tension on both wefts is equal, the warp strings will lie side-by-side and both sides of the knot will be visible on the back of the carpet. In this case, the back is said to be "open" or "flat." If wefts of different weights are used and slightly more tension is applied to one of the wefts (usually to the lighter one), one half of each knot will be pulled slightly above the other. Both sides of the knot are still visible, but one looks much larger than the other. In this instance, the back is said to be "semi-ridged." If the tension on that weft is tight enough, it will raise one side of the knot up inside the foundation, so that only one half of each knot is visible from the back. This type back is called "ridged" or "closed." All single-wefted carpets have open backs. One must know the type back before attempting to count knots.

Type Knot: For all practical purposes, only two types of knot are used for weaving pile carpets: the Turkish or symmetrical knot and the Persian or asymmetrical knot. Persian knots are further divided into those "open left" and those "open right." These distinctions sometimes help identify the carpet's origin.

Village: We use the term "village carpet" to identify pieces made on looms that are located at the weavers' homes. Some looms are actually inside the house, while others are erected against an outside wall protected by an extension of the roof. The designs of village carpets tend to be woven from the weaver's memory. Since the finished portion is rolled on the bottom bar of the loom and is, therefore, out of sight, variations in the pattern are not uncommon.

Warp: The warp is strung between the top and bottom beams of the loom, forming the vertical framework on which the knots are "tied." Along with the weft, the warp forms the foundation of the carpet. Finer weaves require more warp strings than are needed for coarser weaves. Warp strings are made from strong material because it is the warp that determines the durability of the carpet. Cotton is probably the most durable, it makes the "stiffest" carpet and it is in wide use. A coarse wool warp is also strong, but it can shrink during washing causing the carpet to wrinkle. Silk warps are used only for the finer wool and silk weaves. I have only seen animal hair warps on a few tribal carpets from Turkey. The warp also forms the foundation for the flat woven kilim at each end of the carpet. When the carpet is complete, the ends of the warp strings are cut and trimmed to become the fringes.

Weft: Threads, called shots or shoots, are woven between each row of knots to form the horizontal part of a carpet's foundation. Weft is applied using a shuttle that is passed over and under adjacent warp strings, after which the weft is pounded down tightly against the row of knots to add strength and to prevent knot loss. Weft can be applied in single or multiple "shots," and common weft materials are cotton, wool, silk and animal hair. Weft material, color and number of shots provide tips to help identify a carpet's origin.


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