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Traditional rugs are comprised of two sections: the border and the field. The border is the main decorative design that surrounds the rug. Some rugs also have guard borders– narrow decorative designs adjacent to the main border. The field is the area of the rug located within the borders. This can sometimes contain an all over pattern or a medallion, which is most often a round, oval, or polygonal design. These two parts are also important in identifying the rug. The dominant color in the field and border respectively end up in the name of the rug (i.e., Pietra 6265F Red/Gold). Red is the dominant color of the field and gold is the dominant color of the border.
Just as an architect needs a blueprint, the weaver must also have a plan as to how the finished rug should look. There are two popular ways of doing this: cartoon mapping and Talim cards.
With Talim cards, one person reads the color and number of knots to several weavers, who then follow the instruction of the reader. When employing this method, it is possible that the weaver might never know what the finished product will look like until it has actually been completed!
The most commonly used technique, cartoon mapping, is a full–scale graph paper chart that tells the weaver what color each knot is to be. Each tiny square represents one knot. For rugs that have symmetry in design, the plate usually illustrates one quarter of the rug. Famous artists and designers often draw the cartoons, which are mostly used in workshops and master workshops. Designs of smaller tribal rugs are usually woven from memory, often handed down from father to son and mother to daughter.
A motif or design may be asymmetrical (the boteh motif), or it may be symmetrical (the dyrnak gul motif). It is the collaboration and repetition of these two design elements that form a pattern and define the design of the rug.
As we often see in Oriental rugs, it is the playfulness with symmetry that results in intriguing patterns. In nature as well as art, symmetry is imperfect. It seems that the approximation of symmetry, rather than its precision is what teases the mind as well as the eye.