During the production of a carpet, an overwhelming number of weavers will employ the use of either the Turkish (Ghiordes) knot or the Persian (Senneh) knot. The Persian knot is an asymmetrical knot, while the Turkish knot is symmetrical. You can see the difference between the two below.
You will typically find Turkish knots in rugs woven in Turkey and the Caucuses. Persian knots, on the other hand, are found in countries such as India, Pakistan, China and other Eastern European and Asian countries. Surprisingly, in Iran you can find carpets built out of both types of knots, though you will likely never find a rug that has employed both types in the same piece.
This is the common name for weft wrapping technique used to create complex and varied designs. Colored yarns are wrapped around the warps following mathematical patterns that allow the weavers to create free flowing intricate designs that form reliefs on the surface of the work. Because it is a time consuming technique, it is commonly alternated with thin plain-weave ground wefts and often used for smaller works such as bags, prayer sheets and mats.
Kilims are produced by tightly interweaving the warp and weft strands of the weave to produce a flat surface with no pile. Kilim weaves are tapestry weaves, technically weft-faced plain weaves, that is, the horizontal weft strands are pulled tightly downward so that they hide the vertical warp strands.
When the end of a color boundary is reached, the weft yarn is wound back from the boundary point. Thus, if the boundary of a field is a straight vertical line, a vertical slit forms between the two different color areas where they meet. For this reason, most kilims can be classed as "slit woven" textiles. The slits are beloved by collectors, as they produce very sharp-etched designs, emphasizing the geometry of the weave. Weaving strategies for avoiding slit formation, such as interlocking, produce a more blurred design image.
The weft strands, which carry the visible design and color, are almost always wool, whereas the hidden warp strands can be either wool or cotton. The warp strands are only visible at the ends, where they emerge as the fringe. This fringe is usually tied in bunches, to ensure against loosening or unraveling of the weave.
Before we begin to look at the flatweave weaving techniques however, it is important to clarify what makes it unique by understanding the common pile rug or knotted weaving technique. In these plush rugs, knots are made on the warps, and then cut before moving onto the next (forming the pile effect, which also carries the pattern of the rug). After each row of knotting, wefts are then inserted and packed to the desired stiffness. There are two main different types of knots used. The symmetrical Turkish/Gordes/Double knot involves looping the yarn around two warps and then pulling it tight between them, which naturally creates a more durable rug. The asymmetrical Persian/Sehna/Single Knot is preferable for designs with higher “resolution” and involves wrapping one end of the yarn around a single warp, and then taking the other end loosely beside the adjacent warp, before cutting both ends.
The technique of making a soumak involves wrapping wefts over four warps before drawing them back under the last two warps. The process is repeated from selvedge to selvedge. Soumaks tend to be finely woven, and although not as durable as piled carpets, they are stronger than kilims. They are made in the Caucasus, southern Persia and Anatolia, by the Shahsavan tribe in north-western Persia, and very rarely, by the Baloch on the Persia/Afghanistan border. Sizes vary, from carpet format to tiny tribal domestic bags. Unlike the kilim, which is usually reversible, weft strands on the underside of a soumakh may be left uncut several inches long, possibly in order to provide extra warmth.