If you're a little hazy on the differences between traditional rug styles that are often labelled as "oriental," then read on. I've unraveled the Baluch from the Bokhara, the Kazak from the Khotan, but that's not all, oh no, that's not all! Ok, all Cat-in-the-Hat freestyling aside, let's break down some handwoven and handknotted rug styles.
Origin: Villages of Aubusson and Felletin in central France. However, Aubusson-style rugs are currently produced in China, India, and Pakistan.
Size: Vintage Aubusson are typically large (10 x 17 is quite common) with a luxurious pile.
Colors: Soft pastels (especially Aubusson blue and dusky rose) and ivories
Design: Floral motifs and pretty painterly patterns
Origin: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and central Asia
Color: Solid, jewel-toned background color with 5-8 repeating colors in rug pattern
Design: Highly stylized pattern that repeats over entire surface of rug
Chobi Rug (also known as Peshawar):
Origin: Traditionally produced in Pakistan
Colors: Antiqued appearance featuring earthy, golden tones and
abrash (differing shades of one color) throughout the pile
Design: Symmetrical border pattern and floral motifs
Origin: Style of Persian rug traditionally made in southwest Iran. Gabbeh is Farsi for “raw or natural, uncut or 'in the rough'".
Size: Medium to large
Colors: Palette of 5 - 7 bright colors
Design: Often feature stripes or geometric patterns (which lend to a modern look)
Origin: *Qazak is a city in Northwest Azerbaijan but Kazak rugs are traditionally woven in Afghanistan and Armenia.
Colors: 3-7 colors and a common palette of deep indigo, red, and ivory
Design: Geometric motifs of animals, flowers, and tribal medallions
Origin:The ancient city of Khotan (Hotan) in the southern region of Xinjiang (Chinese Turkistan).
Size: Traditional Khotan rugs are longer and narrower than standard rugs
Colors: Can be rich and warm (deep reds and golds) or light and pastel (pale pinks and light grays)
Design: Incorporates Chinese and central Asian influences, stylized geometric and floral patterns
Oushak Rug (also called Ushak):
Origin: Uşak, Turkey
Size: Medium to large
Colors: Silky, shimmery wool in shades of cinnamon, terracotta, grey, and soft pastels
Design: Large-scale geometric floral patterns
Origin: Overdying began in Istanbul as a way to brighten old, faded woven rugs.
Colors: The original colors of a rug are diffused via bleaching and washing techniques, and the rug is then re-dyed in one solid color (hence the term overdyed); the result is that the original pattern and design are visible through one muted color.
Design: Varies depending on the style of rug used in overdying process
Persian Medallion Rug (also called Kashan):Origin:Iran and Pakistan
Colors: Diverse palette of 15-25 colors
Design: Floral motifs with unique central medallion
Colors: Typically features 6-9 alternating colors; deep indigo blue, madder red, or gold/yellow are often the featured colors
Design: Bold, geometric designs interspersed with tribal symbols