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A Small Guide To Real Moroccan Rugs

types of moroccan rugs

A Small Guide To Real Moroccan Rugs

I grew up in a family of rug artisans. The little me grew up watching the women of our Riad weave colorful and beautiful rugs daily and sell them to local carpet dealers. This certainly defined who I am. My favorite thing to do to this day is to browse the Souk and search for handmade gems even though I’ve done it a thousand times. The artisans’ world and creations are fascinating and there is always room to learn more even for experts. And Moroccan rugs are no exception. Moroccan rugs are one of the richest and most exciting fields of Moroccan craftsmanship.

What influences a rug design depends heavily on the artisan, the tribe he belonged to, and the time frame during which the rug was made. Traditional rug artisans choose between replicating their tribe’s traditional design to carry their legacy or mixing the traditional design with personal inspiration and engaging in artistic woven conversations.

Moroccan Tribes
Berber Tribes by Rug Making

For every type of Moroccan rug the materials used will most of the time hint at the quality of the rug and whether it will stand the test of time or not. A Moroccan rug can either be handmade from scratch – and that includes hand-making the yarn from natural wool and dying it with herbs and fruit peels -, semi handmade or manufactured.

Beni Ourain rugs are definitely a classic, popular, and trendy choice in the U.S. But the beauty of Moroccan rugs is that they come in dozens of designs and colors. There is a Moroccan rug for almost every interior design style, meaning everyone can find their perfect rug.

A Small Guide To Moroccan Carpets

The Beni Ourain Rug

The Beni Ouarain rugs are very sought after by designers and interior decor enthusiasts attracted by their minimalism. These rugs are distinguished by geometric black or brown diamond motifs laid on a natural cream or ivory wool background.

Beni Ourain rug carpet

Without a doubt, the Beni Ouarain rugs are currently one of the most famous Moroccan rugs. Authentic Beni Ouarain rugs are made by the Beni Ourain tribes, a confederation of seventeen Amazigh tribes. Located in the area sitting between Fes, Mermoucha, and Taza in the lower Middle Atlas Mountains, these previously nomadic tribes started settling down in Jebel Bouiblane (south and southeast of the range of mountains) around the 9th century AD, bringing with them their flat weaving tradition of the Beni Ourain carpets. They made the soft and warm Beni Ourain rugs to insulate the floors and protect them from the glacial winters in the Atlas mountains of Morocco.

Vintage Beni Ourain Rug 1920
© Berber-arts

Traditional Beni Ourain rug features geometric lines of mainly X-shapes (cross) and/or lozenges. The cross in the Berber culture is a male motif and a symbol of metal workers who are highly respected by Berbers as metal is believed to ward off evil energy. On the other hand, the lozenge shape represents feminine attributes and fertility.

Le Corbusier used the Beni Ourain carpets when he designed Villa La Roche in Paris in 1923–25. As a big fan of these functional and geometric Berber rugs, he regularly commissioned them from artisans in the Beni Ourain tribes to use in his modern spaces.

le corbusier villa la roche berber rug beni ourain
Berber Rug in Le Corbusier’s Villa La Roche Library | © Photo Fred Boissonnas, 1926 – FLC L2 (12)109

Similarly, Alvar Aalto used the Beni Ourain rugs in his Finnish rural retreat place, Villa Mairea.

Alvar Aalto Villa Mairea Berber Rug
Alvar Aalto’s Villa Mairea Beni Ourain Rug | © Photo Mairea Foundation

Azilal Rugs

Moroccan Azilal rugs are the second most known Moroccan rugs behind the Beni Ourain rugs. These rugs are made by the Azilali Berber tribes in the High Atlas Mountains, about 100 miles from Marrakech.

Interestingly, Azilal carpets remained unknown to the market until the late 20th century. But these all-naturally tinted wool-and-cotton rugs and their geometric lines and wide range of bold colors became particularly attractive to creatives and modern art enthusiasts.

Traditional Azilal rug
Vintage azilal rug carpet morocco
Vintage Azilal Rug, years 1990/2000 © Berber-arts

Traditionally, Azilal rugs were made by the matriarch of the family following an ancestral process passed down from mother to daughter for millennia. Like the Beni Ourain rugs, these family-handcrafted rugs were meant to protect against the cold Atlas mountains winter and were only for personal use. Each piece would take weeks if not months to finish depending on the size and complexity of the motif and color palette. When you visit a traditional Azilal house, you can still witness how each rug is personal and unique, a true fingerprint of the family energy and life values.

Similar to the Beni Ourain rugs, the design-rich Azilal rugs use an intricate combination of symbols to tell a story, that of the female artisan. Marriage, birth, protection, and love, are some of the themes that are represented in these beautiful rugs. Colors are also an essential part of the storytelling as each color has a different significance in the Berber culture.

Boujad Rugs

Boujad Rugs, or Boujaad rugs, are a great choice to bring color to any room. They feature beautiful Moroccan motifs and lozenges and a mix of lines and other shapes. Traditional Boujaad rugs are made of soft, high-quality wool and believe it to not, natural dyes. Yes, those bright, bold colors are all-natural and come from 100% natural dyes and no artificial chemicals (like most authentic Moroccan rugs). Boujaad rugs usually come in hues of pink, red, orange, and purple. The real, authentic Boujad rugs are handcrafted by Moroccan women in Haouz, Morocco.

Boujad rug
Boujad rug

Boucherouite Rugs

For my clients who are environmentally savvy and gravitate towards furniture made with recycled materials, I always recommend Traditional Moroccan Boucherouite Rugs. Boucherouite is a Moroccan word that stands for ”the one with used fabrics”, and that is literally what these rugs represent.

Traditional Boucherouite rugs are made from used and old fabric that are knotted together to create beautiful colorful rugs. They are eco-friendly, heavy, and easier to wash than the standard woolen Moroccan rugs. Each of these rugs is different, so they are ideal if you want a unique decor in your room.

boucherouite rug
Boucherouite rug

Moroccan Kilim Rugs

Women of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco make beautiful flat-woven kilims using fantastic colors and designs. They are not as soft and thick as other wool rugs because the nomadic tribes that make them need rugs that are easy to pack and carry. These rugs are incredibly durable and resistant to high sun exposure, making them perfect for use indoors, and outdoors.

kilim rug
kilim rug

Taznakht Rugs

There’s a wide range of Taznakht rug styles. They come in different designs – simple or complex – and colors – neutral or bold. Whatever your interior design preference is, you will most probably find a Taznakht rug that will fit your style. One of the most popular styles for these Moroccan rugs incorporates a 3-dimensional design: a combination of three separate weaving styles – embroidery, knotting, and flat weaving, which creates a raised rug pattern. The most common design includes shapes such as triangles and diamonds.

Taznakht rug
Taznakht rug

Moroccan rugs are fun to play with and will, undoubtfully add a unique charm to your interior design, no matter which of these Moroccan rug types you go for.

Safa moroccanzest

I'm Safa, a Moroccan Native who used to spend her childhood afternoons exploring Medina streets and embroidering in her aunt's little Moroccan sewing shop. Years later and thousands of miles away from Morocco, here I am, reconnecting with my passions: Morocco, Moroccan food and Moroccan fashion and design. I hope you enjoy this little Moroccan bubble