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Types of Berber Rugs

Moroccan Rug Beni Ouraian

Pay respect to the ultimate tribal artists of North Africa. Beni Ourain is the most famous of the Amazigh rugs. It is the simplest, the thickest and of course the symbol of Moroccan weaving in the western interior design scene. It is 100% natural Moroccan Atlas wool and it is made of white and black or brown undyed wool with a diamond like pattern.

They originated actually from the Middle Atlas Mountains where sheep that raise in very high altitude give a dense wool that protects them from the harsh of the snowy winters. They are made by Amazigh women of all classes as they were not used as centerpieces for the decor, but they were used as flooring cover, bedding and piece of clothing Beni Ouarain Moroccan rug.

Nowadays, with the huge demand on Moroccan rugs generally and Beni Ouarain rugs in particular, many small factories gather women in small towns to make Beni Ouarain Like rugs using different wool, different weaving techniques. In the U.S. the case is even worse many websites and stores claim to have Moroccan rugs, However, They sell machine-made Indian rugs. In Morocco production is still largely artisanal, either in rural houses or small workshops in towns around the Middle Atlas.


Azilal Rug

The rugs of Azilal are works of art by women of the Azilal region depict the main events of the life. The themes are all inspired by tribal life such as birth, motherhood, marriage, beliefs, oral tradition and even agriculture.

Azilal succeeds in bringing together the colors of the Boucherouite and the first shearing wool of the Beni Ouarain. The weaving technique is different from the one used for the Beni Ouarain, giving a shorter but equally soft and comfortable coat that invites lying down to read for hours and hours.


Boucherouite Rug

Boucherouite Rugs are using a universal weaving technique, the same as Rag rugs, families with low income or high consciousness of waste management were the first to create Boucherouite weaving kilim and rugs, they used tiny pieces of old clothes and fabrics to simulate the regular rugs making processing. 

Women making Boucherouite are known to be free-souled thanks to their unlimited ability of creation with a limited set of texture and colors, hence they always succeed in making the best of what they have.

The Boucherouite rugs are known for their flashy colors and close-to-perfect geometrical patterns.

In an article entitled: "Wild, Not Woolly, Berber Rugs", written by Holland Cotter and published by The New York Times, the journalist describes Boucherouite Amazigh rugs in the following terms

"The style in question is called Boucherouite, a word derived from a Moroccan-Arab expression for torn and reused clothing. The rugs he describes, made by women for domestic use, are essentially variations of the humble rag rug, without the humility. With their wacky patterns and bright colors, these household items seem to have been designed for partying; they seem more suitable for framing than trampling.

This style has developed quite recently, following socio-economic changes. Since the mid-twentieth century, nomadic life in Morocco has seriously declined and wool production from sheep farming has been greatly reduced. However, during the same period, Berber culture has attracted the attention of the world market and Berber rugs have been increasingly in demand. “

He goes on to describe this wacky and innovative style as follows:

"Beautiful isn't exactly the word for these things; I'm not sure what it is. Some are gaudy and weird, but their exuberance is irresistible. Much more resistant is part of the promotional discourse surrounding them, a sort of high-end version of the hard sell souk, most of them deriving from a slim catalog produced by Austrian dealer Gebhart Blazek, who was the first to put butchery on the map, and with whom Cavin-Morris collaborated on the show. “


Moroccan Rug Kilim

The Moroccan rugs Kilim or Hanbel as Known in Morocco, are flatweaved used for many purposes, such as, floor covers, saddle covers, capes and grain bags.

These flatwoven pieces reflect the rich cultural variety of Morocco, each tribe has its own style, major colors, signs and embroideries. They are made out of natural wool, coton and sometimes silk. The last ones are made to be high value presents in the main ceremonies and they are made to be the pride of the whole tribe, only la creme de la creme of weavers who gather a long experience are capable of producing it.

The Moroccan kilims are a perfect fit for hot regions, there are light and easy clean, dry and shake.
You can place them in a Hallway, on deck, on the bedside and in the balconies.

There are many other kilims on the international market, mainly from Asia, they can look similar, but they’re actually very different, starting from their weaving techniques, the type of the wool, the natural dyes and the symbols.



Rugs of Marrakech region

The Haouz region is where the city of Marrakech in located, it is also a very important rug production area where couple of tribes both Arab and Berber meet to give some of the best creations, Rhamna rugs for example are well known in the rugs collection scene, but they are no longer being made, due a very big wave of rural migration in the early 90s due to a long drought period. Rhamna rugs were very exceptional because they were made by Arabs who were making Berber-like patterns using an Arab type of knots.

The Moroccan rugs of Chichaoua, easily known for the red color, Chichaoua tribe are famous for their use of Madder “Rubia tinctorum” to dye their wool, which gives a wide range of red shades in their rugs.

Middle Atlas Moroccan Rugs

The Middle Atlas is the region with highest density tribe-wise in Moroccan, it is a historical, cultural and ethical mosaic that shares the same language, however each tribe has it specific designs, favorite colors, styles and techniques.

Nowadays with the boom of interest in Berber rugs, everybody who visits Morocco once or twice to source rugs for the American or European market, is considered as a rug connoisseur.
It is good to have Moroccan rug ambassadors all over the world, but the majority of them are unable to make differences between the Middle Atlas rugs, sometimes they’re called boujaad, Azilal or even colored Beni Ouarain.

It is unfair to delete those tribes from the map, just because we don’t know. I’ll try to make it as simple as I can to give you hind so you can recognize each one of the major Middle Atlas tribal rugs existing on the market.

Zemmour Rugs
Red background with white or yellow straight squares or rectangles, and a Berber symbol inside each one of the four-headed shapes.

Beni Mguild
They come in many background colors (red, blue, purple, green), they have a main relatively wide diamond-shaped frame that is filled with little diamonds that sometimes are having the same center.
They come in medium and big sizes

Ait Youssi
They also have a diamond-shaped frame, but this time the size of the frame is very small, they are filled with little straight squares, Amazigh symbols.
They also have medium-width horizontal zig zags.
They come in narrow sizes, they are more long than wide with a ratio above 2:1.


With I mentioned above, I hope that I remove some of the ambiguity around Moroccan rugs, to help you understand what you’ll find online, if you still need some extra info, please feel free to contact us on hello@moroccanboho.com


Conclusion

The Moroccan Amazigh rugs seem to conquer the Bohemian chic interiors of a growing number of people who have not all, one day, set foot on Moroccan soil. It is more poetic, when it comes from the deep High Atlas, it makes the adventurous fiber vibrate.

Moroccan Amazigh rugs are coveted for several reasons: their unique earthy character and lack of symmetry; their abstract impact; their soft and often silky hand-spun wool pile; the creativity of their weavers; and their astonishing patterns and symbols, combined to create complex messages and stories rooted in Amazigh rural life.

The patterns and their meanings are part of a tradition that has remained largely independent, as the many different Amazigh tribes preferred to remain isolated in their sedentary or semi-nomadic communities.

But what do these beautiful motifs mean and how are we to understand them? In general, the patterns are related to fertility, sexuality, survival, protection, and the natural and agricultural world - most rugs are hand-woven by the women of the family in close-knit communities with strong cultural traditions.

For example, the main "feminine" symbol (alone or in a network), the diamond, is probably the most important motif in Amazigh rugs. The chevron, the M-shape and the X-shape are the other important feminine symbols. If a large simple diamond can be a vigilant guardian who protects from evil, it can also be used to represent feminine attributes as well as fertility. An X could be seen as a body with arms and legs extended.

The meaning of many symbols has been lost over time, and although mothers and grandmothers have passed on specific patterns and designs through the generations, weavers might say that they simply weave what they have learned and cannot clearly express what it means.

Amazigh designs, even when they reflect certain tribal traditions and beliefs, are intensely personal and, to that end, they must be interpreted carefully, as we simply do not know what certain designs were intended for or how to translate them. And to do this, we also need to understand the songs, cultures and legends of the different tribes. For example, Berber symbols are used in tattoos as well as in rugs.

It is amazing to know that some of the simple basic shapes used in Amazigh rugs - the rhombus, the chevron, the X-shape, the straight line with hatching, etc. - are not used in the Amazigh rugs. - are also found as abstract signs in European rock art and in horn or bone, dating from 30,000 to 10,000 BC. Contrary to any other rug, the Amazigh rug has preserved these forms of original patterns since the most ancient times.

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