Persian Carpets: The Bokhara Rugs

Bokhara rugs, the famous ‘red rugs’ of Central Asia, continue to be woven by nomadic tribes people who rely primarily upon the madder plant for the tremendous variety of red and red-brown hues. Although red and rust fields are the most common colors, they also can have ivory, navy, green, slate, teal, peach, rose or orange backgrounds.

They are normally fine quality and have small, repeating geometric designs. A popular Bokhara design, the elephant foot and octagonal ‘gul’ motifs tend to work well in both small and large spaces.

 Bokharas are usually 100% wool on a cotton warp and weft. The pile is commonly tied with Persian knots and clipped short, making them plush and giving them very supple textures. Bokharas are recommended more for decorative use than high traffic areas.

The Bokhara Connection

Bokhara rugs were once mistakenly thought to have been woven near the Uzbek city of Bukhara, the capital of the Bukhara Province of Uzbekistan. It is the nation’s fifth-largest city, has been inhabited for at least five millennia and the city itself has existed for half that time. Located on the Silk Road, it has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion.

However, Bokharas were primarily the product of Tekke Turkmens, as well as Salors, Sarqs, Yomuts, and Ersaris. These famous designs also come from eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In ancient times, Bokhara rugs were hand-woven by the people of Russian Turkistan (Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).

Kinds of Bokharas

Teke (Tekke): Finely woven with Persian knots, this type of rug is most popular and grouped as either a prayer rug (Princess Bokharas –divided into four parts with each quarter having a shape that resembles an arched doorway and bands of candlestick-shaped patterns in dark blue) or non-prayer (Royal Bokharas – red fields, rows of octagons, blue lines, and a windowpane design).


Salor: High quality and very rare, these rugs were created by the Salor tribe which are one of the original tribes of the Ohguz confederation, who used to live just north of Afghan border. Their fields are usually red with two rows of small octagons within larger ones, each also having three trefoil flowers. This design is unique to this type of carpet.


Yomud (Yomut): Named after the Central Asian tribe, this is one variety of the Turkoman weavings, which carries upon its face indisputable proof of its origin. In the majority of Yomuds, the pattern is an array of diamond shapes; distributed upon the field in the Turkoman order, but equipped inside and out with the latch-hook.


Bright reds, such as we see in Salors and Tekkes, are rare in Ersari weaving. Bluish reds are not very common either. Softer reds, brick, dusty rose, brownish reds are more the rule.


Khiva: These have deep rich red fields woven with several rows of octagons quartered with two different colors. They are referred to as Afghans because the majority of them are woven in Afghanistan.


Pinde: Woven in the Pinde district of Turkmen, these rugs are very valuable because they are rare. Pinde prayer rugs have red fields and designs that look like large crosses.


Samarkand: Their Mongol influence means they are woven with designs such as dragons, along with the common three large circular medallions on fields of purple green and yellow.

(Pakistan- and Indian-made Bokharas can be found in rust, tan, orange, light and dark blue, green, aqua and gold. The pile is higher, the wool is soft, and the foundation is usually cotton.)

Bokhara rugs add a warm and cozy feel to any room because of their rich colors and soft velvet-like pile.

 How to clean your handmade Bokhara rug?

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