A Moroccan rug is the only piece of art you can eat, sleep and step on. Have you ever wondered how the rug was weaved? What are the differences between piloe knot, loom and flatweave? In this article, we peel back the mystery and focus on the major types of weaving techniques used to make the Moroccan rugs.
Before we begin, we need to review some rug terminology.
Warp: The vertical yarn attached to the upper and bottom beam. The warp is the foundation of the rug.
Weft: The horizontal yarn passed through the rug. These are the building blocks to the rugs structure.
Pile: Pile is the thickness of the rug from the base.
To talk about Beni Ourain rugs, we first have to sort out the difference between flatweave and pile knot rugs. Flatweaves and pile-knot refer to the way the women weave the rug on the warp. The warp is the foundation for every rug and consists of the strings (often white cotton) that run the length of a rug. With the warp set up, the weavers can begin to complete the rug with the weft. Rugs that are solely woven with the warp and weft are flatweave rugs (local dialect: hanbel).
However, not all rugs in Morocco are woven this way, nor is it the most common weaving technique. The most common technique is the pile knot, which has little similarity with flatweave. On a flatweave, and artisan threads the weft back and forth through the warp continuously until the rug is complete. On a pile knot however, the weft is separated with rows of knots tied around the warp.
So where does a Beni Ourain fit within all of this? Technically, it doesn’t. A Beni Ourain is not a weaving technique. In fact, a Beni Ourain is always a pile knot weave as described above. What separates Beni Ourain’s from every other rug is where it was woven, who wove it, and its design.
These are done on a loom and the process takes 1-4 people depending on the size of the rug. On the loom, the yarn or weft is thrown through the middle of the bottom and top warp. The weaver then compacts the rug with the beater and the weft and warp are woven together. This alone is considered a flat weave.
A pile is the difference between a flat weave and a loomed rug. To make the pile, the weaver uses the same technique as discussed above but, instead of yarn, the weaver places a rod or pipe through the middle of the warp. This lifts the yarn and creates a pile. The weaver will use both techniques interchangeably throughout the rug. To finish, the loops created by the pipe are either left or cut to have a fuller finish.
Finding the perfect rug for you is all about understanding the technique of weaving. Next time you visit our store, ask to see the difference of a hand knotted and hand loomed rug. Solving the rug mystery will become more clear.