Moroccan carpets & rugs: everything you require to know

The greatest rugs and carpets at lower costs

Moroccan carpets and rugs: All the information

The Berber tribes of Morocco have a long-standing tradition of making superior-quality Moroccan carpets, also known as Moroccan rugs. These woolen carpets are handwoven and appreciated for their unique designs usually feature striking geometric shapes and vivid colors. The carpets are crafted using the “Berber knot” technique, which involves hand-knotting and results in a dense and durable pile. The wool used in these carpets is obtained from local sheep and is highly valued for its softness and strength. Moroccan carpets are a symbol of Berber craftsmanship and are highly coveted worldwide. They are available in various sizes, designs, and colors to suit any preference or decor. Moroccan carpets add warmth, texture, and color to any room.

An overview of Moroccan carpets and rugs

Rugs and carpets have been an essential part of human existence for a very long time, not only in Morocco but all around the world. Wool has been used for thousands of years, and it is believed that China and Persia are where it all began. The knotted carpet was first discovered in Siberia in the fifth century BCE, where it was created as a winter blanket and a floor decoration. Though it took time for this sheepskin floor covering to become an everyday item, it never lost the refined and proud cultural differences of its creators. As a result, the carpet has become a form of art in Morocco that can be compared to the major weaving traditions of Europe, Persia, Asia, and the East, both in the imperial centers and the Berber lands.

The evolution of Moroccan carpets and rugs

This carpet from Morocco is a blend of two distinct weaving traditions. The rugs produced in cities such as Rabat, Fes, and Mediouna are clear examples of their eastern origins, which date back to the end of the prosperous Andalusian era. In the 15th century, Muslim artists from Spain were forced to migrate to Morocco. The traditional Berber carpet has a long history, with many ancient rock carvings in the southeast of Morocco matching the typical patterns.

One of the forty-five Berber tribes in Morocco is responsible for the majority of the carpets and rugs sold in stores. Each Moroccan Berber rug is hand-woven on a loom and features a unique pattern created by women during their leisure time. Depending on the size, complexity, and time available, the rugs can take anywhere from 10 days to six months to complete. Rugs are typically used in homes or for special events before being traded or sold as goods.

Moroccan Berber carpets and rugs

The Berber carpet is predominantly produced by Berber women living in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and rural areas. They use weaving techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation, including weaving patterns that intertwine enigmatic geometry and Tifinaghe, the traditional script of the Amazigh people, as well as universal iconography depicting scenes from daily life such as animals, birds, and camels. Carpet weaving is a crucial occupation for these Berber families, who have traditionally lived a nomadic and pastoral lifestyle, providing them with a significant source of income. The Berber carpet is a reflection of the places that have welcomed these people for thousands of years, evolving over time and becoming a mirror of their identity. The art of Berber carpets is distinct from the numerous Moroccan provinces found in the Atlas Mountain region.

Colors of the Moroccan carpets

In ancient times, Berber women utilized a variety of herbs and minerals to infuse a spectrum of vibrant colors into their wool. However, the dyeing process was not a simple task. Before embarking on the intricate process, the weaver would perform a sacred cleansing ritual which involved taking a ceremonial bath. This ritual was considered essential to purify the weaver’s spirit and ensure that the wool would be imbued with powerful positive energy.

1. Yellow

The Siroua massif is home to a type of broom called Achfoud, which grows naturally and produces a bright yellow color. These yellow blooms are gathered and dried in the sun to create a yellow dye. To preserve the color of the woolen fiber, a substance called mordant is applied, which is made of alum, also known locally as Zarif, a mineral that is abundant in the Siroua region.

2. The red

Taroubia, a type of wild madder that grows in the area, is used to make red. To make a dye, this plant’s roots are harvested and sun-dried. Even now, alum is employed as a mordant.

3. The blue

The blue color is derived from the Nila indigo tree, which has an 80 cm tall stem. To improve the dyeing process, auxiliary ingredients were used. These included henna grown in the Draa Valley, crushed bark from apple trees, dried date pulp, turnips, dried figs, forge slag, lampblack, and slaked lime.

Berber carpets and rugs symbols

The decorative themes used in the craftswomen’s work represent the culture of their tribe. These motifs and symbols are connected to the spirit of coexistence that has always been a part of Amazigh tribes. This coexistence is evident in their interactions with people of different cultures and religious beliefs, including Muslims, Jews, Berbers, and Christians. The Berber carpets are a prime example of this spirit of cohabitation and tolerance.

Ouaouzguite rugs are known for featuring a wide range of patterns and symbols in their decorative designs. These can include floral or animal patterns, representations of the natural world, as well as the sun, moon, and stars. Many of the designs found on Moroccan rugs and carpets have sexual symbolism embedded in them. These designs represent various aspects of human sexuality such as the union of sexes, marriage, love, pregnancy, childbirth, and life.

How to deal for Moroccan carpets?

If you find yourself wandering the old city and get caught up in the sights and sounds of a market, neighborhood, or even a carpet store, you may realize that you simply can’t leave without purchasing one of the stunning Moroccan carpets on offer. But don’t worry, here are some tips to help you navigate the process of discussing the purchase with the carpet dealer. Remember, carpet shopping is meant to be enjoyable, so try to have fun with it. Avoid being anxious, fidgety, or overly concerned with the details as this may negatively impact the transaction since the seller is fully aware of their responsibilities.

Where to buy carpets in Morocco?

It’s not recommended to buy carpets in tourist hotspots like Marrakech as they can be overcrowded. Instead, it’s better to buy from small communities located in the Atlas Mountains. You can find shops with fixed prices or “artists’ syndicates” that offer high-quality products at average prices. However, if you’re good at haggling, you can get what you want for a lesser price in regular carpet stores. If you’re short on time, it’s best to visit a store with fixed pricing as they offer fair prices, but you may miss out on the unique experience of bargaining, which is one of the reasons you came to Morocco in the first place.

The customary method for making carpets

The art of carpet weaving is steeped in a variety of customs and traditions. The wool is treated with great care and processed according to a ritual that has been passed down from generation to generation, from shearing to warping. After shearing, the wool is kept in a secret part of the house. To ward off evil spirits, the women expose the wool to starlight the day before the dyeing process. The weaver purifies herself, just as she would for daily prayer, by fumigating the wool that is ready to be dyed and hiding it from view.

The following morning at dawn, the weaver returns to the loom to begin the weaving process, saying “Bismillah” (In the name of God). Once the carpet is complete on the loom, the warp threads that support it are cut, which initiates some rituals. Since the door must remain closed until the carpet is finished, the weaver is often the only one who can complete this task.

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