So you have your eye on a rug. The website says this wonderful rug is a "Moroccan styled rug" with stunning "Moroccan patterning" and transports you instantly to the pages of "Vogue Living" magazine where stylish interiors are littered with rugs like these. However…(inserts long pause) reading on in the description, the small print tells you it’s made in China.
Hold on there, made in China, India, Vietnam... How can it be a "Moroccan rug" if its made in China?
Precisely! If it’s not from there, then it’s really not from there.
It may look like a "pattern" that is Moroccan, but if you've ever experienced the splendour of a genuine Berber wool rug under your feet, then you know exactly what I mean when I say, there is no comparison to the real thing. Moroccan rugs have an aura and intrinsic value that reproduced imitations can not replicate. Quite simply, a Moroccan rug is a Moroccan rug – it’s not a style – it’s a point of origin that lets you say a rug is a Moroccan rug.
In my travels I have found that the taste of Cadbury’s chocolate varies depending on where it is made. Chocolate made in the UK is similar, but different to that made in Australia, less similar to that made in Egypt and even less similar to that made in Malaysia and India. Yes, it’s the same brand, but the ingredients that have gone into it are different. The cows, for example, feed off different pastures that define the taste of the milk. And I have a definite preference for the UK made chocolate.
And the same can be said about rugs. A true Moroccan rug is made using the wool from Berber herds in the Atlas Mountains, who feed on the unique vegetation there and have a nomadic, organic existence. This all helps to make the wool what it is. The same applies for the plants that make the dyes and the culture that values the craft of rug making. The combination of all these things only exist in Morocco – it is not something that can be replicated elsewhere, and the replicas just don’t feel right, in the same way Malaysian Cadbury’s chocolate just doesn’t taste right.
So how do we ensure we get a genuine Moroccan Rug? I recommend Benisouk, who a specialised artisan to Consumer co-operative. They cut out the price gouging of the rug dealers who are famous in Marrakesh and Fez, and provide a platform for artisans to sell their rugs at a fair price. Benisouk will travel to the artisans in the Atlas Mountains, sometimes even by mule for the most remote, to collect the rugs to then sell through the Benisouk website. They pay the artisans directly, either in money or with manufactured goods from the city which will make their nomadic lives easier. Either way, this allows them to collect their fair pay for their fair work, while also giving the women some economic independence in a culture where the man is the one expected to earn the family’s keep. You can learn more about the Benisouk Story here.
It is this connection that allows Benisouk to also offer made-to-order rugs where you can specify a size or design style. Benisouk have built the bridges to many rural communities in a mission to share their culture with the world and also find a way to better the lives of these rural and nomadic tribes so that the traditions and culture will continue.
So, if you want a real Moroccan rug – then buy Moroccan. Benisouk has a whole treasure trove of wonderful rugs for you to look at, all waiting for you.