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What is a kilim rug?

Among the many terms that you may encounter when you are perusing oriental and Persian rugs is ‘kilim’, which refers to a flat tapestry-woven carpet or rug. These items are produced from the Balkans to Pakistan and have been found to date back to at least the fourth or fifth century CE in Hotan, China.

Kilim rugs are sometimes included by rug and carpet sellers in the generic category of ‘oriental rugs’, but it is generally accepted that they belong to their own group.
A pile rug’s visible design is made by individual short strands of different colour knotted onto the warps and held together by pressing the wefts tightly. Kilim rugs differ as they are made through the interweaving of the variously coloured wefts and warps, resulting in what is known as a flatweave.

Kilim rugs are associated with a distinctive weaving technique and aesthetic

When you pick up a kilim rug, there’s a good chance that it will have been woven with the slit weave technique, the ‘slit’ in this instance a reference to the gap left between two blocks of colour.

Kilim slit weave technique
Such a gap is created when the weft is returned around the last warp in a colour area, with the adjacent colour’s weft later being returned around the adjacent warp. Weavers completely cover the warp by tightly packing the weft, with diagonal patterns often preferred so that vertical slits do not weaken the rug’s structure.

This technique frequently results in geometric designs characterised by bold, sharp patterns, although floral designs are also not unheard-of.

Sharafi & co Antique Varamin Kilim

We are a leading source of quality kilim rugs in the UK

While many collectors and traders once regarded kilim rugs as poor relations to oriental knotted carpets, they have risen in popularity in recent years on account of their often lower price compared to pile rugs. Today, perceptions of kilim rugs’ inferiority have been largely replaced with an appreciation of their different origins and nature relative to rugs woven on a strictly commercial basis. These floor covering are now sought by many interior designers.

It is safest to buy your antique kilims from a reputable dealer to avoid disappointment.

We have a large and varied selection of kilims on our website.

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