Moroccan Rugs have been around for millennia, standing the test of time in the unassuming yet strong and confident manner only a Moroccan Berber knows. These days they’re becoming an increasingly popular staple in modern, chic homes. They add softness and warmth while making a bold and beautiful centrepiece. With so many options on the market, it’s hard to know which tribe to go for and how to spot a good one.
Here are some tips on how to find that perfect Moroccan Rug for your home.
Moroccan Rugs are works of art, individually crafted by a Berber tribeswoman who inscribe their unique message to the world. For time immemorial the abstract patterns and symbols on the rug acted as a message to the world around them – inviting good health, fertility and prosperity or scaring away evil spirits. In stark contrast to manufactured rugs, authentic Moroccan Rugs have an in-exactitude about them the invites the viewer into the mysterious world of the Berber, where the connection between the land, Gaia and the nomadic tribes are strong.
Azilal rugs are made with wool adorned with colourful motifs on a neutral base. Boujad rugs have bold base colours, usually red, with their motifs adorned. Boucherouite rugs, literally translated as “rag tips”, have striking colours and designs simply not seem on other Moroccan rugs, owing to the fact they use machine dyed “rags” from other fabrics, while other Moroccan Rugs are dyed using the vegetable dyes available locally.
Look for symbols and patterns.
The Berber Artisans who craft these rugs are usually illiterate – in that they do not read a scribed language. Instead, they craft messages using ancient symbols whose meaning has been passed from generation to generation for time immemorial in the same way the rug making processes were also passed down. Often these symbols relate to fertility, prosperity and health, which are always close to the mind of nomadic tribespeople where the size of a herd dictates wealth and the size of the family dictates the tribe’s strength. Often patterns are made up of repeating symbols or variations of those symbols to create a theme, magnifying the charm of the rug. In some ways it can be seen as a prayer to the divine, where the rug is sending a message of what they really need.
We wrote a short blog about Berber Symbology here.
Know what you want
Different types of Moroccan rugs have different features and prices. Vintage Moroccan Rugs are more expensive due to their rarity and natural softening of the colours into pastel tones, caused by the aging process. The nomadic Berber families who made these vintage rugs (perhaps several decades ago) would have done so on a transportable loom, which limits its size. If you are looking to buy a fairly large rug you would have to buy a made-to-order rug where Berber Artisans would use a larger loom available in a co-operative workshop.
You may also want to consider whether you want a flatweave rug with low or no pile or a rug that has pile (this is the height of the rug – so all those fibres sticking up), and if so how much. The rugs made in the more mountainous regions tend to have higher pile in response to the colder climates there, whereas the lowland and desert tribes tend to have flatweave rugs because these are more breathable in the day but warm in the night.
Where to find them
Online sellers are able to bring a wide variety of Moroccan Rugs to the market direct from the Artisans and cut out the various middle-traders. This means that the Artisans can get more money for their work, while also allowing for the “made-to-order” market. It is important to research the online shop before buying to make sure that you are buying from an authentic dealer. Key traits of an authentic online dealer is one who has made the time to write a blog, who has contact details in Morocco and who is well reviewed. You can also contact them to ask them more about a particular rug and see if their answers are what you would expect (for example about the symbols on a particular rug). Also, if a rug seller is able to make “made to order” rugs of a particular design or size, this means that they know artisans who can make them specifically and indicates good ties with the community.
Benisouk is our favourite leading Online Souk for Moroccan Rugs If you have any questions you will find a knowledgeable Berber on the other end at email@example.com who can answer all your rug related queries. They have strong ties with the Artisan community and can accommodate custom made rugs as well as sourcing those that were made through usual domestic production. Their website has a wonderful library of authentic Moroccan Rugs to help familiarize you with the symbols, styles and features of each tribe.