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The Moroccan Rug - The Handwoven Berber Rug

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The History of Moroccan Rugs

Berber Rug

Most people think of art in terms of paintings or sculptures that only exist to look beautiful, but that's a relatively modern innovation. Historically, most art took the form of decorations on useful objects. Textile art was especially common, and rugs were one of the most popular forms. That ancient tradition of textile art still survives with the traditional Moroccan rugs that are woven by the Berber people in the modern day.

What Do They Look Like?

A Berber rug can be distinguished from other carpets by their distinctive knot, which is unique to the region. Like most traditional crafts, they tend to feature relatively simple geometric patterns as decorations, many of which are culturally significant to the people of Morocco. It is rare for a single rug to use more than a couple of colours in its design, which gives them a simple and understated elegance that is rare in mass-produced goods.

How Are They Made?

Imitation Moroccan Rugs are often produced with machines in factories, but the genuine article is still made by hand with traditional methods. A Berber rug begins as a pile of wool that is carded and spun. Traditional weavers insist that this wool is sheared from a live sheep rather than from a sheepskin. The sheep naturally produce both dark and light wool, which allows Berber artisans to create patterned rugs without adding artificial dyes should they wish to do so. Some artisans do prefer to dye their wool, but many others rely on the wool's natural colours. The use of natural colours is particularly common among the Beni Ourain people, whose traditional patterns and motifs have become some of the most popular among Moroccan weavers.

The wool then goes to the weaver, who creates the carpet by hand. The artisans rely on traditional knotting techniques to create the carpets. Those techniques give the carpets their characteristic appearance, texture, and durability. Historically, many homes produced their own carpets for private use or for trade with outsiders, with children learning the art from their parents. Master artisans would produce rugs of higher quality for profit or for use as gifts to important people. That is sometimes the case in the modern world, especially in rural regions, but household production has long since taken a back seat in favor of master craftsmen.

How Are They Used?

Moroccan carpets have been popular for hundreds of years. Ancient Moroccans valued them so highly that they became one of the preferred gifts for the upper ranks of society. They valued the rugs not only for their beauty, but also for their practical value. The traditional crafting methods create rugs that are very durable. That made them especially useful for people who maintained a rugged lifestyle in the desert, but it also makes them a decent choice for relatively high-traffic areas in modern homes. Those traits have ensured that they remain popular as practical decorations, just as they have been for hundreds of years in the past.

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