History of Bukhara (also spelled Bokhara) Rugs

One of the most popular type of hand knotted rugs in the world are Bukhara (also spelled Bokhara) rugs. These rugs come in many colors, density of piles, and they can use different foundation yarns so a rug cleaner must know what they are looking at.

Many believe that the design originated from the Uzbekistan city of Bukhara, however many historians suggest it actually came from the nomadic Tekke tribe in Cetral Asia. It is also widely believed that the Tekke tribe used some design techniques they learned from the Salor tribe. The rugs from the Tekke tribe were mostly traded in the markets located in Bukhara. Eventually these rugs just acquired the name of the city where they were commonly traded. However in some parts these rugs are still known as “Tekkes” but not in the United States. Bukhara rugs are now made in many countries and the design is even duplicated in machine made rugs. Some countries still hand knotting the Bukhara design are Pakistan, Iran, India, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.

There are different styles of Bukharas depending on where they are made but they will all be dominated by rows of guls that have geometric designs surrounding the guls. Some will have more variety of colors, use wool or silk foundation yarns instead of cotton, leave the pile height longer, or use different style of knots. However they are all still considered Bukharas because of the design. There are Pakistani Bukharas, Central Asian Bukharas, Afghan Bukharas, and Baluchi Bukharas.

Pakistani Bukharas are known for their soft feel, heavy pile, variety of colors, and for being affordable. The soft feel of these rugs comes from using a mix of New Zealand worsted wool and local Pakistani wool on a cotton foundation. They are produced on stationary vertical looms.

Central Asian Bukharas are made by nomads on horizontal transportable looms. They use the Senneh, or double, knot which is different than the Pakistani Bukharas. The wool pile of these rugs is generally shorter than Pakistani Bukharas. The design of these rugs can be intricate which requires a higher density of knots. Central Asian Bukharas tend to use wool foundation yarns and come mainly in red, rust, and brown colors. The dyes may be either vegetable or synthetic. These Bukharas are known for their quality, beauty, and for how durable they are.

Afghan Bukharas are often made using a double knot. They generally have wool foundation yarns, but can come with cotton and silk foundation yarns. The Afghan Bukharas can be made on both vertical and horizontal looms using mostly rust and red colors from synthetic dyes. These Afghan Bukharas are similar to Central Asian Bukharas in that they are also known for their quality, beauty, and for how durable they are.

Baluchi Bukhara are typically made from memory rather than following a set pattern and are more random in colors and design because of that. Baluch tribes live in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. These rugs generally use a wool that is coarse in texture for the pile and will always have wool as the foundation yarns. The Baluchi Bukharas are made on horizontal, transportable looms and mainly come in red, rust, and brown shades. These rugs can be made from yarns dyed by both vegetable and synthetic dyes. These rugs are known for their unique patterns, durability, and how affordable they are.