Afghan Rugs

Original Name: فرش افغانستان، قالی افغانستان | Alternative Name(s): Afghan Carpet

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Rugs made in Afghanistan are called Afghan rugs. As there are many tribal groups in Afghanistan, each with unique carpet design and weaving techniques, a particular pattern cannot be classified as Afghan.


Afghan Rug Facts:

  • Original name: فرش افغانستان، قالی افغانستان
  • Common designs: Geometric, Floral
  • Common colours: Red, Dark Red, Blue, Octagonal Patterns
  •  Typical Knot Density: 150.000 - 250.000 knots/sqm

Nomadic/Tribal Afghan Rugs Explained

  • Explanation

    Most Afghani rug weavers are nomadic and as such, these tribes constantly move from place to place. Small portable looms are used to weave their rugs, which are also used to decorate tents in their homes. Consequently, Afghan weavings are usually smaller rugs available as individual, unique pieces.

  • Quality

    Afghan rugs are solid, durable and charming. They reflect the heritage of craftsmanship passed through generations of families. An Afghan handmade rug is generally a traditional rug but contemporary pieces are also woven as well. These beautiful rugs are part of a long history of rug making in the country.

  • Styles, Patterns & Symbols

    Afghan rugs' colour, design and weave are similar to Central Asian tribal textiles. These Persian rugs can be distinguished from Afghan rugs by their geometric patterns, and the most frequent one is the "Afghan Bokhara." Characterised by a Gül motif, these quartered octagons are often displayed in columns or rows framed within a border, and are sometimes referred to as "elephant's feet." Depending on the weaving, these carpets can range between coarse and fine in quality, each taking many months or even over a year to complete.

    Afghanis strictly observe the principles of Islam, which forbid the depiction of human and animal forms. Every rug is woven to a specific unique design, whether it is one from an intricate design plate or one the weaver develops themselves. To fix each knot, the weft is tightly woven between the warp. To form patterns, different colours of wool are tied to each row of knots.

    Each rug is a work of fine craftsmanship, not only stunning but also practical and highly durable. Some Afghan rugs are of the highest quality available and these traditional rugs can take many years to make.

  • Afghan War Rugs

    Afghanistan's war rug tradition started during the Soviet occupation in 1979. Afghan rug makers incorporated war apparatus into their designs almost immediately after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. They continue to do so despite the 2001 American invasion of Afghanistan that ousted Omar's Taliban government. Rugs produced to respond to these events represent some of the late 20th and early 21st century's richest war art traditions.

    Rug dealers, commercial galleries, collectors, critics and commentators refer to the genre as Baluch and War Rug. Rugs with such characteristics convey their makers' interpretations and experiences about war and conflict in the region. 

  • Prayer Mats & Rugs

    Rugs or kilims used for prayer are Afghan Prayer Rugs. Asymmetrical designs usually feature mihrabs or niche motifs symbolising Islamic architecture. 

    These traditional rugs originate in the region known as Baluchistan, in Afghanistan and Iran.

    Almost every prayer rug has a mihrab design at one end, which resembles an archway. Rugs can have a mihrab at both ends, creating a double prayer design. The mihrab points towards Mecca when the rug is used.

  • Common Colours & Dyes

    Colour is an essential element when choosing an Afghan rug. Deciding on the colour scheme for your rug is crucial for creating the right atmosphere in your space. A large rug lets you play with bold and subtle colours and patterns without overwhelming your space. There's no wrong way, whether you go for a modern/contemporary piece or a more traditional /classic rug.

  • Reds

    The colours of Afghan carpets are traditionally red. The deep red colour is achieved by the dye being made from pomegranate peel, cochineal and/or madder. The colour red is said to bring people wealth, luck, beauty, joy and courage and it is a strong and emotional colour. 

  • Browns

    The natural vegetable dyes used give the rugs their colours. For instance, roots, tree rinds, organic materials, dried skins and shells of nuts are gathered by hand and handled in boiling tanks, where the wool is then set for a few hours to a couple of days to assimilate the colour to the right shade. 

  • How Are Afghan Rugs Made?

    Rug making, also known as carpet weaving, has been a part of Afghanistan's history for centuries. Afghan rugs are more than decoration; they are an iconic symbol, representing a country of many cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

    Rug making, or carpet weaving, has been a part of the country's history for centuries. Afghan rugs are more than just decoration; they represent a country with many cultures and ethnicities.

    Making an Afghan rug takes a long time. Each handmade rug is crafted painstakingly over several months or even years before being placed in a home.

  • Materials & Textures

    These carpets have a variety of weave qualities. Most of them take six to nine months to complete, such as flatwoven carpets and hand knotted piled carpets made of wool, cotton, and silk. This makes Afghan rugs unique in almost every aspect of design and they are regarded around the world as truly beautiful rugs.

  • Afghan Wool

    Afghan rugs are made from three types of wool: Ghazni Wool, Merino Wool and Belgian Wool. We only focus on these three types of wool since other types are uncommon in Afghan handmade carpets.

    Durability, knot count per square inch, and softness of rugs are partially determined by wool type used.

    Ghazni Wool

    Afghan rugs are often made with Ghazni wool. Despite being from Ghazni, the wool is not limited to this area. This wool has a spinning and dyeing process that sets it apart from the others. Wool is spun by hand after it's sheared and washed. By spinning the wool so hard, artisans try to thin the yarn. Natural dyes are used to dye the yarn after making it from wool. Due to hand-spinning, some parts of the thread absorb dye to a lesser extent and some more. Abrash effects result from this. Ghazni wool rugs are durable, beautiful and have a distinctive abrash effect.

    Merino Wool

    Merino wool is also used to make Afghan rugs. Merino wool yarn is machine spun, absorbing the dyes and doesn't have the abrash effect. Merino wool is soft and with a silk-like shine, but it does not have the durability of Ghazni wool.

    Belgian Wool

    Afghanistan imports high-quality Belgian wool. The four primary characteristics are softness, silky shine, lightness, and durability. Belgian wool doesn't have an abrash effect because it absorbs dye smoothly. Rugs woven with this method have a high knot count per square inch, adding to their quality. In recent years, Afghan rugs have been woven using this wool. 

Common Types of Afghan Rugs

  • Afghan Kilim Rugs

    In Turkish, the word 'kilim' refers to a flat weaving technique that produces a pileless rug. Most kilims are made in Afghanistan. Afghan Kilims are more durable and practical than Anatolian and Caucasian Kilims; they stick better to the floor and are ideal for any room.

    Kilim is among the oldest known rug types. It is an ancient type of weaving. True kilims are hand-woven rugs made using a technique that results in a low pile, flatwoven rug. Kilims generally consist of 100% wool, including the warps and wefts.

    Kilims do not have a pile like other Oriental or Persian rugs. Due to their low profile construction, they are reversible from both front and back and can use the "slit weave" technique, which leaves a gap between two blocks of colour.

    Kilim differs from carpets because its pattern and surface are not created by stitching over a warp. Weaving Kilim is done using weft balls or shuttles that go back and forth between warps. This produces a thinner, flat rug with the same back and front. 

    Afghan kilims feature original colour combinations, and a thin wire is added to make them stronger and more durable during the working process. This reduces separations in the design. Kilims usually feature bright colours like red, rust, white and blue. Pink, green and gold are common as well. Kilims are commonly dyed with vegetable-based or natural dyes. Kilim designs often result in geometric patterns with bold, sharp motifs, although floral designs are not unknown as well as more minimalist, contemporary designs.

  • Chobi Rugs

    Handmade Chobi Persian-style rugs are made in Afghanistan, near Pakistan. Chobi rugs are made using vertical looms, giving them a refined symmetrical look and these rugs are handcrafted to last for generations.

  • Turkmen Rugs

    Depending on the region, Turkoman rugs (or Turkmen rugs) can be from Uzbekistan or Afghanistan. These designs are attributed to various Turkmen tribes. Generally, there are three types of Turkmen rug: Bashir, Tekke and Yomut.

    They feature plain and simple patterns and a coarser design. They are predominantly red, and area-wide designs are common.

    Apart from Sarouk carpets made in Maruchak and Mauris, manufactured around Herat in Afghanistan's west, Turkoman carpets are woven only in the north of the country, between Maimanah and Kunduz. 

    Baluch

    Baluch weavers in Afghanistan keep using wool foundations and wool piles. Baluch tribes also make flatwoven rugs. Usually, they have semi-geometric designs. The designs can be Mihrab, allover, or medallion styles.

    Some non-Baluch weavers also make Baluch rugs: non-Baluch weavers have learned how to weave rugs for a better standard of living. Rugs are classified and named after tribes, influential leaders within tribes, weaving locations and, at times, after a particular design.

    Reds and blues dominate the colour palette. Black or dark brown is used to outline patterns. In Baluch rugs, ivory and camel are less common. The design elements also feature different shades of green, brown, cinnamon and gold.

  • Afghan Kazak Rugs 

    Afghan Kazak carpets are popular, sought after and one of the most well-known rugs with a traditional design. With its bold colour combinations and geometric illustrations, it is recognised worldwide. Rug lovers prefer Kazak rugs for their quality and value for money. In addition, they make unique accent floor coverings for both modern and traditional settings. 

    Since ancient times, Kazak rugs have been adding luxury, comfort and prestige to homes. In the past, Kazak rugs were symbols of status, woven with silver and gold. You found them in churches, palaces and large houses.

    Wool pile, formed by hand-tied knots, is woven onto cotton warp threads in these stunning rugs. Older versions of these rugs often had woollen warps.

  • Herati Rugs

    Herati rugs are from western Afghanistan. Herat was historically one of the most important artistic centres in the Middle East, and it remains a thriving centre of the arts today. Rugs from Herat are distinguished by the high level of craftsmanship which goes into them, using a very tight weave to fit many knots into a small area.

  • Afghan Ziegler Rugs

    The Ziegler Rug Company began producing carpets in Arak, Persia, in the 1870s. Previously, the British company exported cloth products to Persia. Ziegler carpets and rugs are often stone washed as a finish to achieve a washed-out look but this is not always the case for rugs of this popular, traditional design. 

  • Why Choose London House Rugs?

    We are rug experts at London House Rugs. We've spent more than four decades honing our craft and building long-term, ethical connections with weavers all across the East. A London House Rug has gone through rigorous sourcing, manufacturing and finishing processes to ensure quality and beauty.

    We have spent a lot of time seeking the most incredible rugs in the Middle East and establishing long-term, ethical relationships with weaving cooperatives. We have a vast assortment of new and antique carpets in our store.

    We collaborate with individuals and businesses to design, make and locate carpets for various applications. Please look at some of our recent projects to get a sense of the wide range of services we provide, including everything from a single hearth rug for your own home to a hundred handcrafted carpets for a hotel rollout.