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Our Founder’s Guide for Buying Moroccan Rugs

moroccan rugs carpets

Our Founder’s Guide for Buying Moroccan Rugs

I grew up in a family of rug artisans. I used to watch the women of our riad weave colorful and beautiful rugs daily to sell to local carpet dealers. This certainly defined who I am. My favorite thing to do to this day is to browse the Souk market, find new products and talk with artisans. The artisan world of creations is fascinating; there is always room to learn more – even for experts. Moroccan rugs are no exception. They are among 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 of creation. Traditional rug artisans choose between replicating their tribe’s traditional design to carry on their legacy or mixing the traditional design with personal inspiration, engaging in conversations woven with artistry.

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. A Moroccan rug can either be manufactured, semi-handmade or handmade from scratch which includes hand-spinning natural wool to make yarn, and dyeing it with natural minerals, herbs and fruit peels.

Beni Ourain rugs are definitely a classic Moroccan rug 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.

Detailed Guide To Moroccan Carpets

The Beni Ourain Rug

Without a doubt, Beni Ouarain rugs are currently one of the most trendy Moroccan rugs, attracting designers and interior decor enthusiasts with their elegant 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

Authentic Beni Ouarain rugs are made by the Beni Ourain tribes, a confederation of seventeen Amazigh tribes located in the area sitting between Fez, 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 used to make the soft and warm Beni Ourain rugs to insulate the floors from the glacial winters in the Atlas mountains of Morocco.

Vintage Beni Ourain Rug 1920
© Berber-arts

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

Le Corbusier used 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. These all natural 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 | moroccanzest archives
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 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 upon 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’s energy and life values.

Similar to 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 represented in these beautiful rugs. Colors are also an essential part of the storytelling as each color has a special significance in the Berber culture.

Boujad Rugs

Boujad, also called Boujaad rugs, are a great choice to bring color to any room. They feature beautiful Moroccan motifs and lozenges along with a mix of lines and other shapes. Traditional Boujaad rugs are made of soft, high-quality wool and, believe it or not, natural dyes. Yes, those bright, bold colors are all-natural that come from 100% natural dyes and no artificial chemicals – like all 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 clients who are environmentally savvy and gravitate toward 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”, which is literally what these rugs represent.

Traditional Boucherouite rugs are made from used old fabric knotted together to create beautiful colorful rugs. They are eco-friendly, heavy, and easier to wash than standard woolen Moroccan rugs.

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 the 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 both indoor and outdoor use.

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 either neutral or bold. Whatever your interior design preference, you will most probably find a Taznakht rug that fits your style. One of the most popular styles for these Moroccan rugs incorporates a three-dimensional design. It is combination of three separate weaving styles: embroidery, knotting, and flat weaving to create a raised pattern. The most common design includes shapes such as triangles and diamonds.

Taznakht rug
Taznakht rug

 

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Safaa, founder of moroccanzest

From design and decor to food and travel, moroccanzest is the space where I share what I loved growing up in Morocco, and more. It’s your destination for everything beautiful, artistic, and made the Moroccan way with love. Learn more about me here.