The Story of Carpets in Morocco: The Magic Behind Berber Rugs

Walking in the alleyways of the old Souk of Marrakech, your senses may feel overwhelmed by the vibrancy of the surroundings, the magical entertainment in every corner, and the smell of rich spices. In the middle of this enchanting euphoria, you'll notice bright, colorful fabrics handing around every corner. Take a closer look at these rugs, and you'll realize you've met the Berber rug, or better known as the Moroccan Berber Rug.
The remote location of Morocco in the Mediterranean has contributed to preserving the uniqueness of the Berber carpet. While other rugs, like the Orient or Rabat carpet, are related in some respects, it is not comparable to the quality and style of the Berber Carpet. Each Berber rug possesses intricacy in its creation and provides a wide variety of colors available, making it a truly unique buy.  

How are Moroccan Rugs Created?

To understand Moroccan Berber carpets' uniqueness, it's essential to understand the process behind each rug. Unlike Persian and Orient rugs, Berber rugs are home-made and designed from the imaginations of each artisan. There are no set designs or patterns used to create the rugs unless it's a tribal pattern passed down through generations.
Compared to traditional Orient rugs that used to set the standard, Berber carpets lacked symmetry and did not follow classical aesthetic rules. At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a newfound appreciation for abstract art, and Berber carpets stood apart in this respect because they never abandoned their originality.  
Moroccan rugs take two artisans to make, usually a combination of mother and daughters, neighbors, or pairs of males working together to create a carpet based on the image and memory in their head. The freedom in design and patterns in each rug allows the artisans to unleash their full creativity in the Moroccan carpet-making process. Each rug maker will design rugs based on their intuition, feelings, and signature designs, allowing for a large diversity of colors, designs, and sizes.

Moroccan Berber Carpets Possess Unique Features

Moroccan rugs are available in many different styles. Their uniqueness and special features stem from the history of Morocco. From the Phoenicians and Carthaginians to the Romans and the Arabs in the 7th century AD, Morocco is a melting point for civilizations across history. This blended history has played a considerable role in Moroccan's culture and has created uniqueness in the Berber rug features. Some distinct differences of the Moroccan rugs include:
  • Knotting Techniques: Moroccan rugs use the Berber knot, which distinguishes the carpets of the Middle Atlas, the region that has preserved the complete authenticity of the Berber carpets. No other rug processes this unique knot. Different rug varieties like the Rabat use a symmetrical knot known as the Gördes knot.
  • Unique Tribal Patterns: Unlike any other rug of its kind, Berber carpets are tribal and spontaneous. Morocco includes over 400 tribes, many of which have developed their textile "savoir-faire" by leveraging local fabrics and dyeing techniques. This diversity is at the origin of the myriad styles that compose the Moroccan Berber carpets. With three weaving techniques and 400 tribal groups, the sky is the limit in terms of potential designs for your Moroccan Berber rug. You will never find the same carpet created twice, adding uniqueness and individuality to your carpet choice.
  • Complexity: Creating a Moroccan Rug is no easy feat. It can take up to a year to complete each rug because they are created meticulously by hand using the Berber knot style. This is a complex and lengthy process that is very different from factory-manufactured rugs that you so commonly find.
  • Embedded Symbolism: Berber rugs integrate so many parts of the weaver's life and heritage, from symbols and patterns to spirituality and stories. Similar to abstract art, the true meaning of each symbol embedded in the Berber carpets remains a secret with the artisan who made it; nevertheless, many researchers have tried to interpret some of these codes. 

Different Types of Moroccan Berber Rugs

There are tons of Moroccan Berber carpet styles to choose from, so it's essential to understand the significant classifications of Moroccan Berber rugs. It's important to note that this list is not exhaustive. While it might represent the main streams, we need to remember that there's always more to discover the further you dig into the ancestral culture of rug making in Morocco. Zarabe is consistently exploring regions in Morocco to bring exclusivities to our customers and connoisseurs.
The main differences between Moroccan Berber rugs' classifications relate to the weaving technique, the region, or the tribal group creating the carpet. This classification is not fixed. Many traits of one or the other area could migrate and get incorporated into rugs style as more artisans find inspiration by looking towards popular trends. While we can find some purists looking for original and unaltered designs, we have also seen an increasing number of people looking for new variations. Simplifying the Berber rug classification, you can cluster these rugs into seven main categories, including:
  1. Beni Ouarain Berber Rugs

One of the most famous Berber rugs, the Beni Ouarain, refers to a region in the middle Atlas. These Moroccan rugs are made of local wool from the artisan's own herds. These carpets' significant characteristics are the beige color derived from the natural wool color and the minimalistic lozenge-shaped design. A closer look at each Beni Ouarain rug will reveal its uniqueness. No two rugs are alike. 
The spontaneity in their making and the imagination of each artisan provide a singular signature for each rug. The Beni Ouarain Moroccan rugs convey a true feeling of comfort and coziness to any décor. Each carpet contains a unique story and is usually made by a mother (sometimes grandma) and daughter in a gathering setting where the two are intimately reunited and share a magical intergenerational moment. Beni Ouarain Moroccan rugs are high-quality and made to be thick. Their uniqueness can be felt when walking over these vintage carpets.
  1. Azilal Berber Rugs

Another tribal region, known as Azilal, is landlocked in the Atlas Mountains, just south of the beautiful Ouzoud Falls. Azilal Moroccan carpets are also made of natural beige sheep wool. They differ from the Beni Ouarain rugs in few aspects: Azilal rugs are much softer as the wool in this region has a different consistency and is much more colorful. These Moroccan carpets provide a greater variety of designs and shapes incorporated into each rug. They offer a unique cachet and bring a festive mood to your space. 

  1. Boujad Berber Rugs

One of the oldest cities in Morocco, Boujad, is in the Khouribga Provence. Boujad Moroccan rugs are characterized by their colorful and artistic designs consisting of Berber symbols or abstract illustrations. They come consistently in natural dyes of soft red, pink, ochre, and pale orange. Boujad Berber Rugs give a natural vintage look to any room. 

  1. Boucherouite Berber Rugs

As opposed to the other categories, the name Boucherouite doesn't relate to a region. Instead, it relates to the style and the composition of the rug. Indeed, Boucherouite is a Moroccan-Arabic term used for torn and reused clothing or fabrics. We can say that these Moroccan rugs are an incarnation of the sustainable style of the tribes in Morocco. Their exuberance and unpredictable colors characterize them. Boucherouite Berber Rugs combine practicality and boldness in design which is shown through their bright colors.

  1. Tazenakht Berber Rugs

Tazenakht Berber Rugs are created in the South of Morocco from the Tazenakht area. Tazenakht Berber Rugs are durable, unique, and full of intricate designs and patterns. Tazenakht Morrocan rugs are known for their high-quality and wide range of colors, including reds, ochres, and earthy yellows. These gorgeous vintage rugs will complete any room with their character and history.

  1. Ait Ouaouzguite Berber Rugs

Ait Ouaouzguite Moroccan rugs are made by the tribes of Ait Ouaouzguite confederations. Their rugs are made of silky, high-quality wool that is sourced from their own herd. Ait Ouaouzguite rugs are full of life, often found in vivid, bright colors. The carpets often tell strong traditional stories of their culture and are full of symbolism about the weaver's life and history. These rugs are unique because they tend to bounce light off the surface, giving it a lovely sheen.

  1. Marmoucha Berber Rugs

Marmoucha Berber Rugs are created in the Middle Atlas Mountains in the South of Morocco. The style of Beni Ouarain carpets highly influences Marmoucha Berber Rugs. The Marmoucha rugs can be found in bright patterns with a beige or white background. These rugs are unique, durable, and contain minimalistic designs. 

In conclusion

Moroccan Berber rugs are stylish, unusual and tell a remarkable story through their design. Adding one of these vintage rugs to your home will add a unique flair to your décor, regardless of your style. Understanding the various types of rugs will help you choose what kind of carpet works for your home. However, you can't go wrong with the type of rug you choose, as all are unique and made with a ton of heart.
 

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Good rugs make a hard surface look better and soften it up. It completes the room.

Raquel Framsey