THE MOROCCAN BERBER CARPET

To have a Moroccan Berber carpet at home is to bring into your home a little glow of this beautiful country that makes your soul grow! It's true, the Moroccan Berber carpet is really full of stories and emotions. The word carpet is defined “ Zarabi a” in Arabic, “ Tazerbyt ” in Berber, and precisely, in Morocco, it is the word “ qtifa ” which is often used. The Berber carpet in general, but more particularly the real Moroccan Berber carpet has a flawless and unparalleled reputation! 

Wool rugs, Berber rugs also called: “ North African rugs”, transmit the name of the region, the ethnic group, the tribe and therefore the country in which they were designed. As such, you should know that true carpet connoisseurs can define precisely:

– The age of a carpet ,
– Its place of manufacture thanks to the patterns, the colors, the method of twisting ( twisting the wool ), the number of weft threads that are visible on the back of the carpet, according to the processes of dye employees.

The ancestral art of Berber weaving has been awarded to Morocco, thanks to the Béni Ouarain carpet whose patterns express the same ones already used in the Neolithic era. We recognize a real Berber carpet of Moroccan wool according to:

– its material : knotted, woven, embroidered in very soft, extra-virgin wool extracted from a breed of sheep from the Middle Atlas;
– its color , natural ivory for the Béni Ouarain rug and/or for other types of rugs often dominating red, orange, black, white, yellow tones;
– its knotting knowing that a craftsmanship must necessarily show small irregularities which will be noticed on the back of the carpet (except on a kilim which is reversible);
– its barn or fringe finish which is located at only one end of it. For the history of the carpet, it is obvious that the domestication of the sheep plays an important role in the art of Berber weaving.
Among the Berbers, the work of wool dates back several millennia, originally and using the soap plant, women washed the wool of sheep in the river.

It is not uncommon in mountainous rural areas that these traditions continue and it is precisely in these specific regions that the most beautiful carpets are found. We distinguish symbolic Berber motifs or signs , ornaments which often have a relationship with rites, beliefs, a way of thinking and therefore all the imaginations also linked to this Berber culture . The know-how of weaving is transmitted from mother to daughter, from generation to generation, the works are often woven on the same looms.

Originally, carpets were mainly intended for domestic use and, in the Berber tradition, they were also integrated into the marriage dowry, similarly, according to the economic vagaries of households, the carpet has always been and still is a value. certain economic.

The Moroccan wool rug is mainly distinguished from the following two models:
– Béni Ouarain rugs which bear the name of a tribe, that of the “ Imazighen” which come from the mountainous regions of the Middle Atlas.
In Berber the name of the tribe means “ free people”.These carpets are made of very thick sheep's wool from a particular breed of sheep; this wool also has a worldwide reputation, which therefore also makes the reputation of this Moroccan wool carpet so popular.

These carpets are woven by women who draw dark brown geometric patterns on a natural ivory background. The shades of brown come from the brown wool of the sheep's head while the natural colored wool comes from the animal's body.

– Azilal carpets come from a region of the High Atlas and are much more colorful. They are also made of sheep's wool but the finish is more cropped with much shorter hairs than for a Béni Ouarain rug.

If the Berber carpets differ from a province of origin, a region or a tribe, if the techniques, the patterns, the colors also vary, we note however between all the Berber carpets similarities and thus, a common shape alphabet.

BERBER WEAVING AND ITS VARIETIES OF KNOTTING

A weft of wool and knots of wool, or a weft of wool and knots of pieces of recycled fabric, definitely make beautiful rugs! Knotting and weaving are the two main techniques for making a rug, but there is also embroidery.

Depending on the technique chosen for making a rug, one will be comfortable, very warm, very soft, while the other will be more fanciful, attractive, colorful and original.

The first will be called “ Béni Ouarain ”, “ M'Guild ”, “ Kilim ”, “ Azilal ” etc…
The second will be called “ Boucherouïte ” a well-chosen term which also means “ from recovery ”!

For a wool rug, it all starts with spinning the wool by hand, which creates the yarns that will be perfect for weaving.
The loom is prepared with the warp threads and the knotting can begin.

Namely : the smaller the weft between the knots, the denser the carpet.

As part of a Boucherouïte rug, a 20th century Moroccan rug, it is a work born of modest families established in rural areas of Morocco. These families could not always afford wool, gave birth to a new form of knot made with strips of recycled and recovered fabrics. The result is surprising, spontaneous and poetic, a veritable rug of the popular art of Moroccan weaving, it is one of the most extravagant rugs!

For the Kilim Berber rug , it originates from the Zemmour and Boujaad regions of the Middle Atlas. This rug does not offer the velvet-like texture of a Béni Ouarain wool rug because it is not only a knotted rug, it is also woven and embroidered. This rug often has rectilinear or geometric patterns, rather small but always very neat designs.
The weaving is done using a fine but robust wool, the colors are shimmering, the kilim ( except the Indian model ) and the real one, offers the advantage of having neither front nor back, it is therefore reversible.

The Berber knot is a precise carpet knotting technique that originated in the Middle Atlas region of Morocco. The native Berbers and especially the women of this region have thus developed a special and particular knot that they use as they please. Thus, Berber women or weaving artisans follow their inspiration and give birth to a creation that is always surprising, exclusive, unique!

A great book covers all his techniques: "  Carpets and weaving, the art of Berber women  " and one of our favorite works: "  Azetta, the art of Berber women  " by Paul Vandenbroeck

CARPETS FROM THE MIDDLE ATLAS

The Middle Atlas is home to most of the carpet weaving tribes. Making a carpet in these regions of Morocco is synonymous with a process that is often accompanied by precise rituals, for the preparation, at the beginning and at the end of the weaving. It all starts with the wool, which must be purified before then being dyed according to the recipes of yesteryear using natural pigments. The wool is exposed to the stars for an entire night, in order to ward off the evil eye.

For the Middle Atlas and the regions of Meknes-Rabat , we count on the tribes Zemmour, Zaer, Zain, Bani Mtir, Ait Sgougou, Beni M'guil d.

For the Middle Atlas and the regions of Fes and Taza , we rely on the tribes Beni Ouarain, Ait Ighezzrane, Beni Alaham, Ait Halli, Ait youssi, Ait Seghrouchéne, Marmoucha, Ait Youb, Ait Izdeg, Aît Yaâcoub .

Thus, Morocco is rich in a variety of carpet styles, the most emblematic of which are:

The Azilal carpet, from the province of Azilal in Tadla in the Beni Mellal region offers a very colorful, shimmering and luminous carpet. The pops of color are representative of the season in which the rug is woven.

The Beni Ouarain carpet , designed by the Bénis Ouarain tribe, in the heart of the Middle Atlas mountains. Very thick and very chic rug, it is made of sheep's wool with natural shades of dark brown and ivory, it has very refined and geometric designs.

The Boujaad rug in its very aged appearance does not appeal to everyone, it is special, it is true. Conversely, in its vintage version, it is more and more popular around the world!

The Beni Mguild carpet always presents an improbable design or color, this carpet is unpredictable. The patterns are daring, the designs are quite simple geometric, it is the irregularity of their position that is essential on this carpet in shades of red, orange, pink, indigo or magenta. Each of these carpets is unique and tells its story.

The Beni M'Rirt rug comes from the mountainous regions of Morocco that are rather prone to cold and snow, which is why it is a very dense, warm and comfortable rug.

The Zayane rugis from the High Atlas, its design highlights a work of knots on two lines. The background of the rug is often yellow and the patterns are geometric in shades of red, green, beige.

The Zemmour rug from the Middle Atlas is strongly dominated by red and shades of orange and yellow, a light or dark weave of white or black and with, very occasionally, a touch of blue.

The Ait Youssi carpet offers a work based on the number 7, this can be seen on the weaving work which presents different diamond lattices which are linked together. It is these contrasts that make this rug special.

The Guerrouane carpet , or Iguerouane in Amazigh, is woven by this population from the tribe of the same name, originally from the region of Tafilalet who then migrated to the vicinity of Ifrane...

The Oulmès carpet with a strong dominance of red, diamond patterns comes from the eponymous region, namely Oulmès and is worked by Berber women from the Oulmès tribe.

RUGS FROM SOUTHERN MOROCCO

The Taznakht rug , originally from the High Atlas, is a Berber rug that often requires up to nine months of work. A good carpet of this type can count up to 480,000 knots per square meter. The natural colors of this wonderful carpet come from saffron, henna, mint and other natural ingredients, the tones are therefore red, green, orange, it is a very chic carpet! It is one of the recognized models among the old carpets made in Morocco. The types of carpets Taznakht, Zayane, Habal, are thus the pride of Moroccan craftsmanship .

The Chichaoua carpet is a carpet that bears the name of the city which is located 70 km from Marrakech. The Chichaouas are from the region of Haouz in Marrakech, located between the high and the middle Atlas. This type of carpet is usually very large and is tied on the warp threads of the loom which are made of goat hair with sheep's wool dyed orange-red. This carpet offers no or very few patterns. It is a region renowned for the art of weaving beautiful wool carpets, a region which is very favorable for breeding.

CARPETS FROM THE HIGH ATLAS

The carpets of the Aït Ouaouzguites , a tribe that inhabits the territory between Ouarzazate and Taznakht, Taznakhet region, are called: the carpets of the High Atlas. These works offer the same weaving technique as that used for city carpets. They can also be called: Glaoua rugs .

There are three specific techniques which are: knotted stitches ( handcrafted work), tapestry and flat weaving structured in symmetrical windows. We thus find all the arts of carpet weaving, this type of carpet is both woven , tied and embroidered, the colors are natural. Some of these specific styles include:

The Glaoui rug which also incorporates the three weaving techniques and which has fairly complex patterns for a spectacular result. The glaoui is made up of strips of embroidered weaves while others are knotted, so we have the softness of knotted rugs and the joy of woven rugs.


Talsint wool rugs are entirely knotted or woven by women from a nomadic tribe. These are very noble rugs.
Their patterns always tell stories related to the direct environment represented according to the inspiration, the imagination, the creativity that the craftswoman wishes.


The world around them is a source of inspiration! Ourika carpets come from the Ourika valley near Marrakech, natural wool carpets from this region generally offer a nice balance in creativity, they do not lack charm!