Most of you will know that we offer a custom made service for the ever popular Beni Ouarain rugs. These rugs have always been woven with a superior quality soft, silky type wool which gives them a smooth appearance. The geometric designs are woven with either black or brown wool and they usually have a short fringe at one end.
However, we are often asked about new, longer (shaggier) pile Beni rugs. There are lots of these around to buy, most of the new rugs are not produced from the best quality wool, and this is of course reflected in the price, but they are still a great addition to a contemporary space if you are on a budget. We have always been able to source this style of rug, but if we can’t find what you’re looking for, it is possible to commission a custom made rug with this type of finish, with a design modelled on the traditional vintage Beni rugs.
We were over the moon yesterday to see a photo of a recently completed custom made rug from Marrakech. This beautiful Beni has been made using a vintage rug as a template, woven using the traditional designs and techniques employed by one specific tribe from the Beni Ouarain region. A new rug with all the history and traditions of an old one….fabulous! If you would like more information on commissioning a custom made Beni rug, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since we introduced Kilim Boucherouite to our collection last year, they have become some of our best sellers. These beautiful kilims are made from recycled textiles, just like Boucherouite rugs, but are flat weaves rather than pile rugs. (The Arabic word ‘Boucherouite’ means a piece or scrap of clothing). Most of them are approximately 20 to 30 years old, and have stylish geometric designs which often have a very retro appearance. They originate from the Azilal region of Morocco. Because of a bit of a rejig of our stock, we now have one of my favourite Kilim Boucherouite available in the UK. I love the muted colours in this one, and the design reminds me very much of Missoni! Like the traditional Boucherouite ‘rag rugs’ they are reasonably priced, easy to wash and look great in contemporary spaces. Keeping this in mind we hope to find some more beautiful examples late Summer time to add to our collection. We’ll keep you updated!
Morocco is the country where most Berber people live today. Their origin is not really known and neither is the origin of the name Berber. Recent research suggests that the Berber people once populated the whole of North Africa until Arab immigration drove them out of the Eastern regions. We now describe all tribal and village carpets from Morocco as Berber even though the tribe may now speak Arabic.
Berber carpets generally have a coarse quality. They are creations of rustic folk art by women living with their families in villages or as nomads. They are woven for their own use, as bedding or blankets, or to decorate their homes for special occasions such as a wedding. They are prized possessions but if cash is needed, a carpet is taken to a local souk to be sold.
Whilst weaving, the lower part of the carpet is rolled and disappears from sight, so the weaver must rely on her creativity to continue her work, using tradition but also her imagination. The symbolism of the Berber carpet is the expression of a primitive fertility cult, originating from remote early cultures. There is no other form of artisan art in which this still survives to this day.
A weaver will not generally be aware of the meanings of the symbols she uses, simply saying that her mother or grandmother used the same ones. However, we do know that the main ‘female’ symbols in Berber carpets are the lozenge, the chevron and the X shape. The eight pointed star, known as ‘Solomon’s Star’ also belongs to the feminine fertility symbols. Maternity is the most important aspect of a Berber woman’s life. ‘Male’ symbols are always long and thin, straight lines or sticks next to one another, sometimes forming a fish-bone pattern. The ‘snake’ also plays an important part in male symbolism and is the only animal which appears in Berber carpets with a symbolic meaning. Male motifs usually frame the female motifs and almost always form a border to the rectangular area of a carpet.
Understanding the meaning of symbols gives a Berber carpet a new dimension other than just aesthetic admiration.
Extracts and images from ‘Berber Carpets of Morocco – the Symbols, Origin and Meaning’ by Bruno Barbatti. A recommended read for anyone interested in exploring the history and style of Moroccan carpets.