Moroccan Rugs

Vintage Moroccan RugWhat are Moroccan Rugs?

Moroccan Rugs are decorative textiles made in the territory of Morocco. There are four main types of Moroccan rug – flat-woven kilims, shaggy Beni Ourains, knotted pile rugs, and rag rugs. Moroccan rugs are distinguished by bold coloration and tribal aesthetics. They carry geometric rather than figurative designs. Moroccan rugs have been very popular since the mid-20th century due to their naïve charm and unique appearance that fits perfectly into contemporary décor trends.

The Characteristic of Vintage Moroccan Rugs

Moroccan rugs are made in five regions of Morocco:

– the Middle Atlas
– the High Atlas
– Rabat
– Eastern Morocco
– the Atlantic plains

Woven by Berber tribes living much as they did centuries ago, they retain the authentic indigenous character. Vintage Moroccan flat-woven and knotted-pile rugs are remarkably diverse in style. They may carry bold colors, naive yet charming motifs and lively patterns of geometric elements.

Each tribe has its own distinct repertoire of designs and colors. These reflect both the ceremonial and day to day life of the group. The vivacious oranges and sunny yellows reign in Moroccan vintage rugs of the High Atlas. Dramatic light blue and camel tones appear in the Rabat vintage Moroccan carpets. In turn, the ivory background and charcoal motifs are characteristic of Beni Ourain rugs. All types of Moroccan rugs are ideal for the chic contemporary interiors of the 20th century.

Moroccan Rugs – North African Weavings in a Nutshell

A land of vast deserts and of emerald oases shaded by ancient palms, of jagged mountains and of broad valleys blanketed by drifts of narcissus, Morocco stirs the soul, and her poetry has not been lost to those who bring life to her looms. Moroccan rugs reflect the sheer beauty of their motherland. According to beliefs, they constitute talismans protecting from harm and bringing good fortune.

To a contemporary consumer, a Moroccan rug is mainly a chic decorative item. Indeed, both urban and tribal creations can literally enthrall any onlooker with their imaginative patterns and striking colors. However, there is much more to these North African wonders than meets the eye. Here we present some of the most important and interesting facts on Moroccan rugs and Moroccan Berber rugs.

Moroccan RugsThe Origins of Moroccan Rugs

Legend tells us that the turbaned swordsmen of Islam met their westernmost limit when the Arabian leader Uqba ben Nafi plunged his stallion into Morocco’s Atlantic surf and cried, “Lord, I take you to witness that there is no ford here. If there were, I would go farther.” Twelve years later, the Islamic world continues to refer to Morocco as Al Maghrib Al Aqsa, “the land of the farthest west.”

As is typical of all the “frontier” regions, Morocco combines adopted ways of weaving Moroccan rugs with her own ready individualism. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the magnificent rugs woven amid the cedar forests and icy peaks of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, the red crenelated towers of her pre-Saharan citadels, and the twisting white walls and arched ways of her urban medinas. Though fundamentally the product of an Islamic society, these rugs radiate sunshine and exuberance of their own, quite different from their more formally patterned and symmetrical cousins of the Middle East and Central Asia.

Perhaps this is only to be expected. During its long history, Morocco has been visited by numerous outsiders, and yet no group has been able to permanently subdue her or declare a monopoly of imported culture. Through Phoenician colonization, Roman dominance, the penetration of Islam, and much later, the Spanish and French “protectorates,” the age-old way of weaving Moroccan Berber rugs has endured. Indeed, the Berber refer to themselves as the Imazighen, “the free and noble people.” These qualities are as evident in the bold hand-woven rugs, tents, saddlebags, and pillows that form the material architecture of their lives as in their centuries of resistance to outside domination.

Moroccan Berber Rugs

The practical and symbolic worlds of the hundreds of Berber tribes scattered about Morocco are touched to an extraordinary degree by the products of their looms. Eligibility for marriage is determined in part by the ability to weave beautifully. Wedding ceremonies are held upon Moroccan Berber rugs infused with the palette of wild sorrel, madder, indigo and the shells of the cochineal. Social status can depend on the quality of these weavings. Moreover, the wool from which they are fashioned even provides a talisman considered powerful against demons and evil spells.

Not just objects of status and good fortune, Moroccan Berber rugs serve at once as the furnishings of the tent and village residences and as the principal means of artistic expression. The thick pile Moroccan rugs that provide bedding for the Zaiane, and the boldly patterned flat-woven hanbel rugs that warm the Zemour, do more than ease the severity of winter. They represent the continuity of ancestral decorative tradition and the highly individual creative identities of their weavers.

Moroccan Rugs from Urban Weaving Centers

It is said that elegant urban rugs first appeared in Morocco when a stork, returning to its nest on the ramparts of the Oudaias, circled the Kasbah and dropped a fragment of carpet from its long beak. A weaver retrieved it, and, believing it to be an omen, vowed to reproduce its hitherto unknown patterns. In fact, these rugs, introduced by the Turks in the 18th century, soon became known as “king’s rugs,” and ever since have graced the princely apartments of the rulers of Morocco.

Moroccan rugs from urban weaving centers, like Mediouna or Rabat, are of a more formal nature than simple and honest tribal creations. They usually have precise centers and well-developed frames and borders. As such, they bear resemblance to rugs originating in Asia Minor.

Moroccan Berber Rugs – Design Wonders From North Africa

Moroccan Berber rugs are presently one of the most sought-after decorative items around the globe. Although derived strictly from the Arabic tradition, they constitute a separate and complete category filled with sunshine and exuberance. Innumerable outsiders tried to dominate this sun-scorched land yet none were able to completely subjugate its rugged beauty. Where do the honesty and whimsical appeal of Moroccan rugs come from? Let us take you on a fascinating journey tracing the steps of the nomadic Berbers to unravel the secrets of North African tribal weavings.

Cultural Significance of Moroccan Berber Rugs

Before talking about the purely external aspects of Moroccan rugs, it is essential to mention the crucial role they play in the everyday life of nomads. Through the ages, wandering tribes have used carpets in various ways, floor covering being the least significant among them. Thus, looking at a vintage Moroccan rug you may in fact be seeing something completely different. That “rug” may actually be part of a tent, bedding, saddling or a coverlet.

These weavings were both a centerpiece and a reflection of the roaming lifestyle. The weaving craft passed down through the generations has a distinct tradition and history. All the more so because it was such an integral part of every Berber’s life. A sturdy weave that provided shelter, warmth and perhaps the closest thing to home.

Next to serving utilitarian purposes, Moroccan Berber rugs perform a plethora of cultural and social functions. Because of time and labor that go into making rugs, they are a symbol of social status. The richer the materials, patterns, and colors of a carpet, the more value it represents. No wonder a rug is an indispensable component of every Berber dowry. What is more, the very ability to weave is one of the major prerequisites for a woman to become a bride.

Moroccan Rugs as a Form of Artistic Self-Expression

Moroccan Berber rugs also carry more symbolism than meets the eye. Apparently, not only the patterns have something to say but also the material of which a Moroccan rug is made. The wool itself is believed to act as a talisman, protecting families from demons and evil spirits. Göz (eye), Çengel (hook), Haç (cross) are among the design motifs considered to offer protection. Others, like Koçboynuzu (ram’s horn), symbolize masculinity, fertility, and power, or a plethora of other values.

Indeed, these motifs form an intimate language that expresses every facet of nomadic life. For these wandering people, Moroccan rugs were one of the only means of artistic expression in a way of life fraught with hardships. Through rugs, illiterate people were able to share their ideas with the rest of their community and pass down a cohesive tradition to the next generation. Every Moroccan rug has a deep, personal connection to its maker.

Moroccan Berber rugs are distinct from their urban cousins, like the Rabat and Mediouna designs. Above all, they have freer designs and less rigid borders and frames. For example, the Beni Ourain tribes are famous for the subtle imperfections in their weavings. Maybe the pattern is irregular or off-center, maybe some outlines appear unfinished. According to them, only God is perfect, and these eye-pleasing flaws are their way of showing humility.

Designs of Moroccan Berber Rugs

There are two major groups of Moroccan rugs: flat-woven Kilims and pile-woven Beni Ourain rugs. The latter, in particular, are characteristic for Moroccan Berber tribes. Usually featuring a simple geometric pattern on an off-white background, Beni Ourains are held in high regard by interior designers. Simplicity is also central in these weaves, although newer products may be decidedly more colorful.

Moroccan Berber rugs are infused with the palette of wild sorrel, madder, indigo and the shells of the cochineal, among others. All of these ingredients came directly from the Berbers’ environment. Rugs may contain brilliant shades of ochre, crimson, beryl, and saffron but also softer earth tones.

Typical patterns are arrayed into simple, rectilinear bands or crisscrossing hatchworks filled with Kilim motifs, some of which represent stylized animals. Designs don’t necessarily have to be regular either. They may be off-center, and their borders and frames might be weaker, with less substance than in urban carpets.

Vintage Moroccan Berber Rug

Traditionally, the Berber people lived a nomadic, wandering life. They used to lead their herds up or down the mountains depending on the seasons. Weaving has long been part of their existence -Berber designs trace back to the very first manifestations of human culture. Surprisingly enough, early versions of the motifs appeared on rock and cave paintings.

Today we use Moroccan Rugs to bring tactile comfort and aesthetic appeal to interiors. However, their original purpose was to provide warmth and insulation. The vintage Moroccan Rugs of the Atlas Mountains were hand-woven using sheep’s wool. Thus, they provided thick bedding, crucial in the inhospitable climate. The cream, neutral colors common to Beni Ourain rugs (sold en mass today) hark back to a time when dyes were a scarce resource.

In modern times, the Berber weaving tradition has evolved to suit the contemporary market. Thus, it incorporates a wider mix of materials. Today, Berbers weave rich and robust rag rugs that carry many bright colors. Nonetheless, there is something beyond the craft of the Berber tribes. Moroccan rugs also come in an array of styles and patterns developed in different cities throughout the country. The designs found in Moroccan rugs from urban centers have their unique character. Why? The weavers living in the cities traditionally had more exposure to foreign influences thanks to, inter alia, trade. In places like Fez, Rabat, Tangier, and Marrakesh, the weavers were more likely to incorporate designs of other cultures. Therefore, Moroccan rugs may carry floral designs, patterned borders, diamonds, etc.

Moroccan rugs contain a sense of vivaciousness and heartiness that takes roots in their rich heritage. They offer up a combination of textural sensuality and bold, simple visual pleasure. It makes them simultaneously powerful and versatile choices for state-of-the-art interiors.

How Do Moroccan Rugs Energize and Amplify Interiors?

Moroccan rugs exhibit particular beauty and ethnic authenticity which stems directly from the distinctive history of the country’s textiles.

The Moroccan weaving tradition is not monolithic. Many of the Moroccan rug designs get lumped together under the Moroccan label. However, in fact, they are the inheritance of distinctive tribes and ethnicities.

The vast majority of Moroccan designs, such as the cross-hatch pattern of Beni Ourain rugs, comes from the tribes of the Atlas Mountains. They occupy the range wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and the Sahara Desert. These nomadic groups are collectively known as the Berber tribes. Their presence in North Africa preceded the Arab migration. Nonetheless, one may find them not only in Morocco but also in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Algeria.

Finding the Perfect Moroccan Rug

People struggle to get real Moroccan rugs. They seek in various places, often to no avail. The ideal option would be to go to Africa yourself and get the Moroccan rug straight from an artisan. However, even then, the buyer must be confident in his ability to judge the craftsman’s work. Besides, as tourists, we usually have an opportunity to make a purchase only at a local market. There is a threat that the seller has poor quality local goods or, what’s worse, deals with some imported, mass-scale items. After all, not all textiles that are in Morocco are from Morocco. If you want an authentic Moroccan rug, you have to pay attention to several crucial matters.

First and foremost, put your trust in the hands of a reliable dealer. Especially when shopping online, we may come across many purveyors pretending to have the original thing. Sadly, the carpet that later arrives at our door appears to be neither qualitative nor beautiful. Presently, you have to be careful with fakes. A Moroccan rug of your dreams should be hand-made of natural materials, no matter if high-pile or flat-weave. Only then will you be certain that it can withstand years of usage in excellent condition. Not to mention uniqueness! Machine-made carpets are repetitive, the hand-crafted ones are always one-of-a-kind.

What is the correct name? Moraccan, morocan, morrocan or maybe morrocan rugs?

During online browsing, remember to type in the name of the category correctly. Some people, instead of Moroccan rugs, use the phrase “Morocan rug”, “Morrocan rugs” or even “Moraccan rug.” It seems to be the same but a dishonest purveyor may be selling a completely different item under a very similar name. Be careful not to get cheated!

DLB as a Trusted Dealer of Moroccan Rugs

DLB knows all about rugs. We guarantee that every piece in our collection, custom or vintage, is a real, best quality rug. Moroccan rugs, custom rugs, and other DLB carpets are the essence of refined workmanship and utmost artistry. We established our position among the world’s best purveyors of rugs only through hard work and commitment. Browse our website for vintage carpets from Morocco or contact us to get a new one, custom-made one. Your satisfaction is our top priority.

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