Classic Turkoman designs known as Bokharas were originally made by nomadic tribes. Bokharas were named for the city where they were once collected which was once an important trade center in Turkestan (1). Bokhara rugs are now one of the most popular designs of hand made and machine made rugs on the market. For that reason they are widely reproduced in areas of Pakistan, and India.
Bokhara rugs are one of the easier rug types to identify. When you are inspecting Bokharas you should keep in mind they vary in quality from very poor to very fine. It is simpler to have a known Bokhara on hand when determining the authenticity of an unknown rug. Bokhara rugs are most commonly a deep shade of red with a repeating pattern of octagonal guls. An Octagonal gul design is also known as an elephant’s foot. These guls are commonly dark blue, black or brown with ivory accents. The shapes and colors of guls varied from one tribe to another, these differences were traditionally used to identify the source of the rug. Wool is generally used as the foundation material, and the wool pile is most commonly tied with Persian knots and is clipped short. Pakistan and Indian 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 in Pakistan and Indian Bokharas (1). Note the traditional guls in the photo below.
Popular variations of the Bokhara include the Tekke, the Yomut, and the Salor (1).
Salor Bokhara: Salor Bokharas were made by the Salor tribe who once lived just North of the Afghan border. Salor Bokharas are of excellent quality and very rare. The field is usually red with two rows of octagons. Each octagon has a small octagon within it which is quartered. The interior sides of each octagon have three trefoil flowers. This design is unique and can help distinguish a Salor Bokhara (2).
Tekke Bokhara: Tekke Bokharas are one of the most popular Oriental rug classifications and are usually divided into two types: non-prayer rugs (Royal Bokharas) and prayer rugs (Princess Bokharas). Overall, Tekkes are finely woven fabrics with Persian knots (2).
Royal Bokharas: Usually have red fields with rows of distinct elongated octagons joined horizontally and vertically with blue lines which quarter them, alternating with small diamonds. This is also called a windowpane design (2).
Princess Bokharas: Are even more distinctive than Royal Bokharas, with the field divided into four by upright mihrabs with a separating crossbar. These four quarters of the field are woven with bands of candlestick-shaped patterns in dark indigo blue (2).
Yomud Bokhara: Yomud Bokharas are named after the large Yomud tribe which is found over most of Central Asia. Yomud rugs have a more Caucasian-like design. They have a deep red field with either Persian or Turkish knots. One of the most common designs has the field divided into four by a Greek cross, with small white octagons woven in the quarters. A less common design has an all over field of a diamond lattice pattern with geometric medallions within each diamond (2).
Ersari or Beshir Bokharas usually employ a zig-zag border around a row of conjoined diamond medallions, or tree patterns, in the center. Ersari rugs commonly have dark red fields with designs woven in blue, red or yellow and usually have the Persian knot, although they can have Turkish knots. Khiva Bokharas are also called Afghans since the majority of Khivas are woven in Afghanistan. The Persian knot is used in this rug type and larger sizes are more popular. Khiva Bokharas have deep rich red fields woven with several rows of octagons quartered with two different colors (2).
Pinde Bokharas are exceptionally rare and valuable Bokhara rugs and were woven in Pinde district of Turkmen. Pinde prayer rugs have red fields and distinctive designs consisting of two narrow prayer niches separated by a white horizontal bar which makes the pattern look like a large cross.
See more examples of Bokhara rugs on our Pinterest Board!
(1.) Jerrehian, Aram K. Jr. Oriental Rug Primer; Buying and Understanding New Oriental Rugs. Pennsylvania, Running Press, 1980. Print.
(2.) Bennett, Ian. Book of Oriental Carpets and Rugs. New York, The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, 1972. Print.