Glossary – Anahita’s Woven Riddle

abadi (ah-baa-dee)—a village or settlement

abrash (ah-brahsh)—a term used to describe variations in the hue or colors of yarn in a rug or weaving caused by age, or yarn used from different dye lots. Most natural or plant dyes will yield color variations, whereas synthetic dyes are more uniform.

Afshar (Af-shar)—a semi-nomadic people who reside in southern and northeastern Iran near Kerman and Mashhad, respectively. Some also live in eastern Turkey. They are noted for weaving Afshar soumak rugs with geometric designs.

ashena (ash-en-a)—a casual friend

agha (ah-ga)—sir, a title of respect

aziz (ah-zeez)—one who is closest to your heart (azizam is the possessive form of this term of endearment)

azan (ah-zan)—a call to prayer

bagh (bawg)—a garden

Baluch (Bah-looch)—a Baluchi-speaking tribal group inhabiting eastern Iran, western Pakistan, and southern Afghanistan carding combs—wooden paddles embedded with metal bristles (or long teeth) used to straighten wool fibers before spinning

chai (chah-ee)—tea

chanteh (chan-teh)—a small woven bag

cochineal (cah-che-neel)—an organic dyestuff derived from dried insects thatfeed on prickly pear cacti. Dye colors range from red to pink and violet. It takes seventy thousand insects to make a pound of cochineal. One ounce will dye one pound of wool.

darya (dar-y-a)—sea. Darya Khazar is the Caspian Sea.

dervish (der-vish)—a kind of Sufi who follows a special form of Islamic mysticism. Dervishes are known for their drumming, chanting, and whirling ceremonies, in which they experience a closeness or intimacy with Allah. Some of the first orders of dervishes were inspired by the scholar, poet, and spiritual master Jalaluddin Rumi, who lived in the thirteenth century, in Konya, Turkey.

divan (dee-van)—a government bureau or tribunal; a council chamber dokhtar (dah-tar)—daughter

dokhtaram (dah-tar-am)—my daughter

doost (doost)—a close friend duk (duke)—spindle

felt—a cloth made by working together wool fibers by pressure and douses in hot, cold, and soapy water, which shocks and shrinks the fibers into a solid mass

flatweaves—a term used to describe a pileless weaving such as a gelim or soumak. Weft wraps are used to make a colorful pattern.

gabbeh (gab-bay)—a style of weaving that has a strong informal flavor. Numerous wefts are used between rows of knots to speed the weaving process.

gelim (ge-leem)—a flatwoven rug in which a smooth surface pattern is formed by the wefts; kilim in Turkish

goat hair tent—a black nomadic tent woven in long strips and sewn together

golab (go-lob)—rose water

gul (gol)—a flower; also a term used to describe the pattern of a particular tribal weaving

Gulestan (Gol-es-tan)—an epic poem by the Persian Sufi poet Sa’adi imam (ee-mom)—a prayer leader or holy man

indigo—an ancient blue dyestuff that has been produced since 2500 BCE with perennial plants from the Old and New World tropics. It is used for dyeing fabrics and yarn, and is also ground up and mixed with clay to make cosmetics, crayons, and paint.

inshallah (in-shala)—God willing

jajim (ja-jeem)—a woven textile that has a colorful, striped design; usually used for robes or blankets of a lower quality than gelims

jambiya (jam-bee-ya)—a dagger

jube (joob)—a shallow trench alongside village lanes that carries water from the qanat

kadkhuda (kad-khoo-da)—a headman or tribal leader

khan (khawn) —a tribal chief who oversees tribal affairs and represents the tribe with the government. The khan appoints the kadkhuda.

khanom (kha-noom)—madam (used for a married woman) khatam (khat-am)—ornately carved boxes inlaid with thousands of triangular pieces of ebony, ivory, and gold

loom—a device for weaving yarn into cloth and carpets

madder—a sprawling perennial native to Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. The roots produce a dye that gives a variety of orange, red, and brown pigments.

madrasa (mah-drah-sah)—a school

manzel (man-zel)—a small dwelling, like an apartment masnui (mahs-new-ee)—synthetic mihrab (meh-rob)—a niche in a mosque wall that points toward Mecca

mujtahad (mooj-ta-had)—a religious jurist who helps to settle civil affairs

naan (naahn)—flat bread

nomads—people who travel in search of pasture. In the Middle East and Asia these people often travel between mountains in the summer and lowlands in the winter. Stock breeding is their principal livelihood.

Nooruz (new-rooz)—Persian New Year

pile weaves—knots that are wrapped around warp threads and left to project at right angles to the plane of the weaving. They are tied individually in a transverse row and held in place by a weft thread.

qali (ghawl-ee)—a carpet

qanat (ghan-not)—an irrigation channel

rafigh (ra-feeg)—best friend

ruh (roo)—spirit, soul

runas (roo-nahs)—madder root, a plant used for red dyes

saffron—small lilies or crocuses with orange stigmas, grown in the Eastern Mediterranean region and Middle East. In early fall the stigmas are plucked out of the flowers and dried. A yellow dyestuff may be obtained. It is also used for seasoning food.

sama (saa-ma)—a turning dance, a Sufi ritual performed by dervish “monks” who whirl in hope of reaching an ecstatic state or union with Allah

selvage—a specially woven edge that prevents the cloth from unraveling

shuttle—an instrument containing a spool of weft thread that is used in weaving to carry the weft yarn back and forth between the warp threads

sofreh (soo-fre)—a dinner cloth on which food is served and which is used on the floor

soumak knot—two or more weft wraps around a pair of warp threads, a weaving technique that produces a flat weave spindle—a tool used to spin wool into yarn. It consists of a shaft inserted through the center of a disc, or whorl.

sprak (sprack)—dyer’s broom, a plant used for a primary yellow dye that will not fade in sunlight

Sufi—A Sufi is commonly known as a Muslim following a special form of Islamic mysticism, and one who seeks union with Allah through silence, meditation, music, song, stories, poetry, and dance. Sufis are people who live everyday lives and work in a variety of careers, and are devoted to kindness, often poverty, and acts of helping.

toman (toe-maahn)—Iranian money

warp—lengthwise threads attached to the loom that form the structure and length of a rug

weft—also “woof.” Horizontal threads worked between rows of knots in a carpet, which secure the knots in place.

weft comb—a heavy comb, usually made of lead, that is used in weaving for pounding weft threads into place

yar (yahr)—soul mate, kindred spirit

Yomut (Yo-mutt)—a Turkman tribe of northeastern Iran

yurt (yirt)—a circular nomadic home, usually made by draping felt coverings over a portable framework

zafaran (za-far-an)—saffron