The Complete Guide to Traditional Moroccan Rugs

Moroccan Handmade

We have highlighted several distinct features inherent to Tuareg mats, kilims, Beni Ourains, Boucherouite rag rugs & Beni Mguilds, and Azilals.

Moroccan Rugs And Modern Design

Western societies have been fascinated with traditional Moroccan rugs, dating all the way back to the 20th century. During this period, designers utilized bold geometric shapes and patterns and bold color palettes to enable wonderful function-over-form interiors. Famous Designers such as Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, and Frank Wright utilized such natural, rustic rugs for offsetting austere interior designs.

As eco, global, and bohemian styles gain popularity, Moroccan rugs see a spike in demand. Vintage, well-crafted products tend to cost around 6-figure sums. However, Double Knot’s owner and antique-rug expert Murat Kupcu advise buyers to be cautious. He states that with Moroccan rugs hitting an unprecedented level of popularity with no supply problems at the moment, people must distinguish between rugs made for export or market purpose and designed-for-home, authentic Berber rugs.

It’s an irony that Moroccan rugs, which were produced economically without any plans to sell them in the market, are the ones that cost the most. Both consumers and rug experts agree that the highest value is often paid for textile products that were created as a work of art by the weavers, whose only intention was to emulate their ancestors and traditions. Below is a picture of one of the vintage rugs that were made by Berber women to keep their traditions alive in an artwork.

Women usually made Moroccan tribal rugs and weavings for personal purposes alone. Such dense rugs were used for various purposes, including floor covering or blankets during the winter, seating, and mattresses. Every woman who weaves a rug conveys her story via her work of art. These rugs carry much symbolism and are likely to vary depending on where the rugs were made.

Moroccan Rugs have a wide range of colors, from monochrome to graphically dense images, and incorporate saturated, bright shades along with muted, natural tones. These dynamic gestural shapes remind one of the leading contemporary paintings and reflect the time-intensive, tedious process of manufacturing them.

As we examine several elements, which endow a sense of uniqueness to Moroccan rugs, here are some highly popular and famous tribal weaving rug traditions: Tuareg mats, kilim, Boucheourite, Beni Ourain, Beni Mguild, and Azilal.

Azilal Rugs

Bold and attractive geometric designs tend to be woven by many rural weavers in Morocco, from the Sahara to the Atlas Mountains. However, the Azilal, which extends from the Middle Atlas’ southern foothills to the High Atlas’ northern side, provides many highly-coveted, heavily decorated rugs and carpets. Ali Esmaili, who owns Esmaili Rugs, states that as Berber weaves lacked a common written language, they would use archaic symbols and images in their textiles to depict ancestral myths.

As we examine several elements, which endow a sense of uniqueness to Moroccan rugs, here are some highly popular and famous tribal weaving rug traditions: Tuareg mats, kilim, Boucheourite, Beni Ourain, Beni Mguild, and Azilal.

However, not all Moroccan rugs sport exquisite patterns. The most attractive designs often tend to have monochrome colors. However, such rugs come with subtle variations and brilliant color schemes that make up for their lack of complexity. Traditional dyes are used, which are obtained from minerals or local vegetation. Some of them, like cochineal’s rich red and the Tyran purple, is obtained from shells. Others like the Beni Mguild use indigo to create deep purple and blue shades in their designs.

While they don’t always contain rich symbolic imagery, these colors come with their brand of symbolism. Esmaili states that red colors are used to symbolize protection and strength in traditional Berber culture, green for peace, yellow for eternity, and blue for wisdom.

Boucherouite Rugs

Did you know that these fun-loving carpets emerged due to several economic and social changes? Yes, Boucherouite, which is derived from an Arabic word Busherwit, or ‘piece taken from a used clothing material,’ was created as people transitioned from nomadic herds to more modern employment types. This reduced the supply of wool. Started by the Boujad and Beni Mellal, who live in the Moroccan Central Plains, this practice gained acceptance by remote tribes spread throughout the High and the Middle Atlas regions, especially the Ourika tribe.

Boucherouite rugs tend to be similar since there isn’t much distinction between these rugs. Since it’s a near-impossible task to understand the tribal difference between the rugs, they often get mislabeled as Boujads in the market.

Tina Busck, founder and designer at the Apartment, located in Copenhagen, states that rugs are similar to paintings for the floor. Therefore, she approaches it, just like one might approach installing or hanging paintings on their walls. That can be understood from the image given above, where a colorful, attractive Boucherouite rug reflects the color variations and geometry of the items contained in the Seindenfaden Busck’s bookshelves.

Beni Ourain Rugs

have a more stripped-down, elegant geometry and neutral tones, making them highly preferred by most modern interior designers. Some innumerable contemporary spinoffs and products draw inspiration from the Beni Ourain, a 2-dozen strong individual tribe network located in the Moroccan Middle Atlas area. FJ Hakimian adds that these rugs are woven using natural, undyed wool with a largely cream field. The decoration tends to have a henna-brown color arranged in several delicate lines. These stylish textiles are usually made using undyed wool sourced from a black sheep, thus lending their distinctive dark tone.

While nothing stands out particularly about Beni Ourain rugs and carpets, Summer Thornton holds that they contain little details, which give these pieces character, soul, and depth, which can’t be seen in a mass-manufactured machined carpet. Tiny variations in line thickness, color imperfections, and geometric design asymmetry are why Thornton and other designers are so drawn to these rugs.

Kilim Rugs

Kilim, a Turkish word, refers to a pileless and flatwoven textile. It comes in many different variations with a common origin & happens to be available throughout the Arabian world, the Balkans & Turkey. As this weave tends to produce lightweight results, the rugs happen to be ideal for usage during the summer, making it highly popular among Moroccan weaves.

Kilim Rugs

Hakimian adds that although vintage traditional Moroccan kilims are usually limited in their size, it has a simple geometry, allowing people to use them in ways and dimensions that are well-suited to modern interior designs. The image presented above shows a Gardens Idea House and Hamptons Cottage by Groves and Co that makes use of an oversized traditional carpet made using smaller kilims of a traditional nature.

Want a Moroccan-style rug? Here are a few things you ought to remember:

  • Tribal-made Moroccan rugs are different from urban-style Rabat carpets. The latter have Arab influences on them.
  • Before purchasing, ask whether your traditional Moroccan rug has been produced for the market or a house.
  • Azilal is famous for its densely decorated attractive geometric tribal rug designs.
  • Several tribes residing in the Middle Atlas region, called the Beni Ourain, have neutral rugs and use undyed wool.
  • Most tribal rugs were intended to serve multiple functions.
  • Traditional dyes incorporate natural solutions: Tyrian for a purple color, indigo for a blue color, sumac, saffron, and turmeric for a yellow color, henna for brown and orange colors, and madder ocher for a red color.
  • Abrash refers to a dramatic, sudden change in color.
  • Nomadic Tuaregs use leather in their multipurpose outdoor-indoor reed mats.
  • Boucherouite is derived from the Arabic word Busherwit, which means rag. It isn’t a tribe or region.
  • Kilims are flatwoven, lightweight rugs.