Rug and Kilim – What Is The Difference And What To Buy?
One of the more frequently ask rug related questions that we get has to do with differences between a rug and kilim. In the simplest terms, a kilim is a flat weave area rug while the term “rug” or “carpet” is generally reserved for area rugs that have pile and that were knotted by hand.
Lets explore this rug and kilim question a bit further.
What Is A Rug?
In it’s most basic definition, a rug is a woven fabric that is used to cover a specific area of the floor. This is distinct from the term “carpet”, which is generally but not invariably used to refer to carpeting that extend wall-to-wall, or are fixed to the floor; the difference between a rug and carpet is explained further below. The origins of rugs and carpets are varied, but the method for weaving rugs is largely cross-cultural. For the most part and generally speaking, rugs are made on frames called rug looms.
Learn more about the differences between rugs and carpets
What Is A Kilim?
Flat woven area rugs are called “Kilim rugs”. The term “kilim” primarily refers to a type of flat weave rug that was produced without knotted pile. Because these antique rugs are found across the globe, each region has a different pronunciation and spelling of the name Kilim. Homers Iliad and Egyptian tomb paintings, from the same time period, depict weavers producing flat weave area rugs and carpets of this kind.
Should you buy a pile rug or kilim?
Here are 3 points to consider when trying to decide if you should buy a pile area rug or a flat weave kilim:
- Kilims are durable rugs but they are not knotted, they are woven. As such, these types of flat weave rugs are generally not recommended to be used as dining room rugs. This is because the movement of the chairs may cause the weave to open up. But you can place and position these rugs in rooms where you won’t constantly be sliding furniture across it.
- Knotted pile area rugs They have a softer texture and thicker pile than kilims which makes pile rugs ideal for bedrooms.
- The different types of area rugs woven with pile are very sturdy and can be used pretty much anywhere. Since a rug can withstand more foot traffic than a kilim, we would recommend using pile rugs in kitchens, hallways and other areas of the house that get a lot of use.
The different types of kilims and rugs:
For the most part, most weaving centers produced both flat weave kilims and pile area rugs. But the main types of flat weave rugs would be:
- Aubusson rugs – These French rugs are not called usually “kilim” but they are flat woven.
- Swedish rugs – Scandinavian rugs were actually woven as both pile area rugs and flat weave kilims. But we tend to see more Kilims than pile in these vintage rugs.
- Bessarabian rugs – Romanian rugs were woven in both pile and kilim technique but for the most part, they are almost exclusively woven as flat weave kilims.
- Moroccan rugs – While the most recognizable would be the more shaggy Beni Ourain carpets or Berber rugs, the rugs from Morocco include magnificent flatweaves as well.
- Persian rugs – The vast majority of these rugs are pile. But Persia is home to magnificent kilims such as: Mazandaran kilims, flat woven Jajims, Senneh kilims and so forth.
- Turkish rugs – Arguably the most famous rugs of all the flat woven kilims are the tribal kilim rugs woven in Turkey.
- Caucasian rugs – The most famous flat weave rugs from this area would be the Soumak rugs. That said, some Caucasian Kazaks and even Shirvan rugs can be found as kilims.
Shopping for a rug or kilim? Here are some great options:
This rug blog post about buying a rug or kilim was published by Nazmiyal Rugs / Collection in NYC