Fine Bokhara Rugs

What is A Bokhara rug?

A Bokhara rug is a type of hand-knotted Oriental rug named after the city of Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan. These rugs are renowned for their fine craftsmanship, luxurious textures, and distinctive geometric patterns.

Bokhara rugs typically have a rich color palette, with bold reds being the most popular and traditional color. Still, they can also be found in various colors such as beige, green, blue, gold, or ivory. The design usually features repeated oval or diamond-shaped motifs, sometimes called “elephant foot” patterns.

Their high knot density and quality of construction, often utilizing the Turkish or Ghordies knot, contribute to their longevity and durability. Despite their rich history and high-quality construction, Bokhara rugs are typically more affordable than other hand-knotted rugs, making them popular choices for many homeowners and collectors.


Table of Contents

Origins and History of Bokhara Rugs

Bokhara rugs are a timeless and elegant style of hand-knotted rugs originating from the historical region of Bukhara, now part of modern-day Uzbekistan. 

These rugs have a rich history dating back to the 16th century when Bukhara was a thriving center of trade and culture along the Silk Road. 

The art of rug-making was passed down through generations of skilled artisans who honed their craft to create these exquisite art pieces.

While initially produced for personal use within tribal communities, these rugs gained popularity and demand from traders, merchants, and collectors due to their exceptional beauty and craftsmanship.

Red Bokhara Rug in Living Room
Red Bokhara Rug in Living Room

Where Were Bokhara Rugs First Made?

As the name implies, Bokhara rugs were first made in the Bokhara region of Uzbekistan by a tribe called Tekke. The Bukhara region of Uzbekistan was prominent as a seat of Islamic scholarship in the early medieval period. During the first half of the 20th century, the name began being associated with the rugs of the Turkmen tribes.

The area in which these rugs are made has influenced their style of patterns. Asian designs heavily inspire the style, giving them a traditional appearance through geometric patterns. Other tribes within the Bokhara region of Central Asia, such as the Salor tribe, influenced the designs of Bokhara rugs.

While in the past, the designs of Bokhara rugs were only made by nomadic tribes, they are now made across the weaving world. Some significant countries that currently make handmade Bokhara rugs are Pakistan, India, Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan.

The Famous “Gul” Motif

Bokhara rugs are known for their distinctive geometric patterns, a hallmark of the style. 

Bokhara style often features repeating designs, such as multiple rows of small diamond motifs, octagons, or the famous “gul” motif, a traditional Turkmen symbol. The designs are typically in symmetrical patterns and well-balanced, resulting in a visually appealing image and harmonious composition.

Bokhara Guls
Guls come in a wide assortment of forms and can vary in shape, color and design from one rug to another.

The gul design is a stylized octagonal flower. In all Bokhara rugs, the guls are arranged in uniform columns and rows in the field. These motifs are usually slightly oblong and shapely while adhering to their basic geometric form.

In addition to the iconic “gul” motif, Bokhara rugs often incorporate other traditional symbols and motifs that hold cultural and historical significance.  This include stylized flowers, animals, and various tribal symbols representing protection, prosperity, or fertility. 

Color Schemes and Variations

Bokhara rugs are known for their vibrant color schemes, making them stand out. While these rugs come in a wide array of colors, only a few select top colors are used in each rug. 

Although strikingly colorful, each Bokhara rug features less than six top colors. Finding a Bokhara rug with more than six different top colors is scarce. Whatever colors are used are traditionally bold hues. Red and rust fields are most familiar with other popular colors: ivory, teal, orange, black, green, rose, slate grey, peach, and navy.

Using high-quality, natural dyes ensures that the colors of Bokhara rugs remain vibrant and resistant to fading over time. The intricate patterns, rich colors, and cultural motifs make these rugs an exquisite addition to any space, adding warmth, depth, and a touch of history to your home decor.

Different Types of Bokhara Rugs and Their Patterns

Although the main features remain similar because various nomadic tribes weave them, there are variations in the shapes and the dyes of the guls.

The Yomut, Tekke, and Salor tribes created some of the most popular types and styles of Bokhara rugs in demand worldwide.

Here are some of the distinguishing features of the rugs created by each of these tribes.

Salor Bokhara

One of the rarer varieties of Bokhara rugs, Salor Bokharas were manufactured by the Salor tribe, who lived and traveled north of the Afghan border. Salor Bokhara rugs are easily identifiable by their deep, rich shade of red.

Their patterns usually feature at least one row of symmetrical octagons with a smaller diamond or smaller octagon shape within each border. Floral patterns fill the interiors of these shapes.

These rugs have a red field with two rows of octagonal guls running parallel down the length of the rug. The octagons themselves are elaborately designed, with one octagonal motif within another. The innermost octagon is divided into 4 quarters.

Tekke Bokhara

There are two types of Tekke Bokharas – Princess (prayer rugs) and Royal (non-prayer) rugs – each of which can be relatively popular and easy to identify.

  1. Princess Bokhara (Prayer) – These are primarily created as prayer rugs, and their designs reflect this. The rug’s core features a hand-stitched mihrab that indicates the qibla wall, which points toward the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca. The field of the rug is divided into 4 quarters by upright mihrabs with a separating crossbar. Dark indigo-blue bands of patterns that resemble candlesticks adorn each of the quarters of the field.

  1. Royal Bokhara  (none-Prayer) – The distinguishing feature of Royal Bokhara rugs is their windowpane design. This consists of several rows of elongated octagons that are joined together both vertically and horizontally. Blue lines that run vertically and horizontally cut the octagonal motifs into four quarters. 

Yomud Bokhara 

Created by the Yomud tribe that traveled across Central Asia, the designs found in Yomud Bokharas closely resemble Caucasian designs.

A deep red field created using Turkish or Persian-style knots is the distinguishing feature of Bokhara rugs. The rug is usually divided into four parts by a beautiful Greek cross. A simple but beautiful white woven octagon is enclosed in four parts.

 A Greek cross that divides the field into four parts is the most commonly seen Yomud design. Each of the quarters features a small white woven octagon.

Materials and Construction

Wool and Silk

Bokhara rugs are almost always wool pile woven on either a wool or a cotton foundation. 

Today the wool is often a blend of New Zealand and Pakistani wool. The former is a silkier fiber, and the latter is coarser, which creates a beautiful complementary combination that makes Bokhara rugs softer, more luxurious, and more durable rug.

While Bokhara rugs are known for their thick, lush pile, this dense thickness can often detract from the rug’s design in that the outlines of the various design forms are blurry. 

So when you look for these types of rugs, you will find two qualities. One is the rugs left thick for their luxuriant quality, and the other is the single pile rugs that are closely clipped so their intricate designs are visible with crisp, clean outlines. The design itself is versatile and can fit in with most interior decor styles.

Silk is also used in some Bokhara rugs as a primary material or accent to highlight specific design elements. Silk adds a luxurious sheen and smooth texture to the rugs, making them more valuable and sought after.

New Zealand Wool
New Zealand Wool

Weaving Techniques Used

One of the most essential aspects of Bokhara rugs is the weaving technique used in their creation. Bokhara rug weavers predominantly employ the Ghordies knot or Senna, both of which are traditional Turkish weaving techniques. These specific knotting methods contribute to the exceptional durability and longevity of Bokhara rugs.

Ghordies Knot

Also known as the Turkish knot or Ghiordes knot, the Ghordies knot is a symmetrical knotting technique that provides added strength and resilience to Bokhara rugs. The knot is tied around two adjacent warp threads, resulting in a tight, secure construction.

Turkish Knots

Senna Knot

The Senna knot is another Turkish weaving technique used in Bokhara rugs. Similar to the Ghordies knot, it contributes to the overall durability of the rug. However, the Senna knot has a slightly different structure, producing a more textured surface and unique appearance.

Senneh Knots

Using these time-honored weaving techniques, Bokhara rug weavers create rugs that showcase intricate patterns and captivating designs and provide exceptional durability. Using Ghordies and Senna knots ensures that these rugs can withstand the test of time, making them a worthwhile investment for any home.

Knot Density and Quality

Knot density, measured in knots per square inch (KPSI), is an essential factor in determining the quality and value of a Bokhara rug. A higher knot density usually indicates a more intricate and detailed pattern and a more durable and long-lasting rug. 

Bokhara rugs can range from 100 to over 400 KPSI, with higher-quality rugs typically having a knot density of 200 KPSI or more. 

When assessing the quality of a Bokhara rug, it’s essential to consider not only the knot density but also the materials used, the craftsmanship, and the overall design and aesthetic appeal.

Standard Rug Sizes

Bokhara rugs are available in various standard sizes to suit different spaces and requirements. 

Small: 2′ x 3′

Medium: 3′ x 5′, 4′ x 6′, 5′ x 7′

Large: 6′ x 9′, 7′ x 10′, 8′ x 10′

Oversized: 9′ x 12′

Bokhara Rug Runner Sizes

Runner rugs are perfect for hallways, corridors, and other narrow spaces, with dimensions ranging from 2′ to 20′ in length.

Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance are essential for preserving the beauty and longevity of your Bokhara rug. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy your rug for many years.

Cleaning and Stain Removal

Regular vacuuming: Vacuum your Bokhara rug regularly to remove dirt and dust. Be gentle and avoid using the vacuum’s beater bar on carpets or the rug’s fringes.

Spot cleaning: Attend to spills immediately by blotting the area with a clean, white cloth. Avoid rubbing your hand on the stain, as this may cause it to spread or damage the wool rug’s fibers.

Stain removal: Use a mild detergent or rug cleaner to treat stains. Always test the cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the rug first to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration or damage.

Materials For Rug Cleaning
Items for Rug Stain Removal – Dishwashing Foam, Clean Towels, Brush

Rug Rotation and Sunlight Exposure

Rotate your rug: Rotate your Bokhara rug every six months to a year to distribute wear and tear evenly and prevent one area from becoming overly worn or color faded.

Sunlight exposure: Limit your rug’s exposure to direct sunlight, as UV rays can cause the colors to fade over time. Use blinds, curtains, or shades to control sunlight exposure in your space.

Professional Cleaning and Restoration

Professional cleaning: Have your Bokhara rug professionally cleaned every 3-5 years or more frequently if it experiences heavy foot traffic or is in a high-stain area, such as a dining room.

Restoration: If your rug has experienced significant wear or damage, consider professional restoration services to repair and rejuvenate it, ensuring it retains its value and beauty.

How to Decorate with a Bokhara Rug

Wool Bokhara rugs are known for their warm color schemes and deeply symbolic designs, making them an excellent choice for various interior design styles.

Here’s how to make the most of a Bokhara rug in your home:

Classic Elegance: The rich colors and intricate patterns of Bokhara rugs perfectly complement a classic,traditional room. The rug’s luxurious feel brings warmth and sophistication to any space, creating a welcoming atmosphere.

Scandinavian Style: Light-colored Bokhara rugs in icy greys and browns are ideal for decorating Scandinavian or Nordic rooms. The rug’s subtle hues blend seamlessly with minimalist, clean lines and natural materials.

Creating a Focal Point: To make your Bokhara rug the centerpiece of your room, pair it with light-colored furnishings. This decorating style draws attention to the rug, allowing its traditional colors, shapes, design, and patterns to shine.

Warm and Inviting: Add warmth to a family room or lounge with a Bokhara rug. The rug’s elegant design details and soft texture make it a cozy and inviting addition to any living space.

By carefully considering the design elements in your home, you can effortlessly incorporate a Bokhara rug into the rest of your decor, creating a warm, stunning, and cohesive look.



Bokhara Rugs: A Treat For The Eyes & For The Feet

When you see a Pakistani Bokhara rug, you’ll know it immediately. These rugs have a few unmistakable traits that make them unique and easily identifiable. The most prominent feature of a Bokhara rug is its design. The trademark style consists of geometric motifs called Guls, which usually appear in recurring rows. The background and the design elements are hand knotted using a wide array of deep, rich, vibrant colors that add to their charm and beauty. While in some rugs the pile is left longer than usual for a dense, lush look, in others the pile is trimmed to give the rugs a sharper, cleaner finish.

The Gul: A Hallmark Feature In Bokhara Rugs

The gul is essentially a stylized geometric motif with eight sides. The shape tends to be more oblong rather an even-sided octagonal shape. Within that basic definition, there are several variations in size, shape, design and color combinations so that it is extremely rare to see two rugs with the same gul design.
Even the way they are placed can differ widely, with the columns and rows placed at diversely spaced intervals and other design elements scattered in between.

Designing a Bokhara Rug

When you consider that the construction and design of a Bokhara rug is governed by very definite guidelines, the sheer variety of rugs available is amazing. This stems from the fact that these rugs are hand knotted and as such, how they turn out really depends upon the weaver’s personal style. The weavers play around with various color combinations together with differently styled guls to give the finished piece a look that is distinctive from all others. Different weavers use different hand knotting styles, adding to the uniqueness of the finished Bokhara rug.

Selective Use Of Colors

In addition to the characteristic gul design, another very distinguishing attribute of Bokhara rugs is the way the colors are used. Each individual rug actually features only 5 to 6 top colors. Very rarely will a Bokhara rug feature more top colors than that. Weavers select their colors very creatively so that when woven in, anybody looking at the finished rug would hardly ever notice that only limited colors have been used in the creation of the rug. In fact, the finished rugs look so colorful with their bold shades and clever interplay of colors that they seem to be woven using numerous colors. Colors most commonly used in Bokhara rugs include red, orange, rust, black, teal, navy, peach, green, slate and rose.

Diverse Constructions Add To The Variety

The foundation of Bokhara rugs is usually cotton or wool and so is the pile. The final finish of the rugs depends on the origin of the wool used to weave the pile. Wool that is sourced from local regions give the rugs a more rustic appearance whereas wool imported from countries such as New Zealand gives the rugs a more lustrous appearance.
The length of the pile also adds character to these rugs. Rugs with a longer pile are denser and softer but tend to compromise the integrity of the design whereas the design outlines are more clearly demarcated in rugs with a shorter pile.