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Berber Rug: Timeless Beauty of Moroccan Craftsmanship

What are Berber rugs? Are they only made in Morocco? What are replicas of the original model? How can you tell the difference? Find answers in this article. 

Answers to these questions and an overview of the history of wool Berber rugs. Berber rugs have different meanings, but for now, let’s attribute them to rugs made in the Rif and the Western Sahara. 

They originate from North Africa, mainly crafted in the Moroccan Rif region and the Western Sahara. Primarily woven by women, a primary focus at Enchanting Rugs, they’re made mostly from sheep’s wool, occasionally from goat and lamb wool. 

Moroccan rugs often boast colorful or white designs with a Scandinavian style. 

They’re frequently adorned with red, orange, or blue stripes and typically consist of 3 or 4 layers, including an outer layer of wool. 

Criteria for Recognizing a Genuine Wool Berber Rug

Pay attention to its structure, colors, feel, and materials used. 

Various Berber tribes exist, so consider the specific characteristics of each tribe that creates these Moroccan rugs.

Price reflects quality and prestige. Beware of falling for deals from large industrial groups; they compromise the traditional expertise of female rug weavers. 

Identifying a Wool Berber Rug by Tribe A wool Berber rug symbolizes Berber culture and Moroccan heritage. Its history dates back to ancient times, though its exact origin remains unknown. It’s sometimes used as a prayer rug in Berber mosques in Algeria, Morocco, and the Western Sahara. Significant archaeological work on Moroccan rugs led to the establishment of the Berber Rug Museum in Aït-Ben-Haddou. 

Today, Berber rugs represent Moroccan culture and craftsmanship. Various Berber tribes in Marrakech create these rugs:

  • Smara for traditional decoration,
  • Ait Atta and Ait Sidi Slimane for low-pile rugs,
  • Beni M’guild for long-pile rugs,
  • Bni Snous for short-pile rugs. Notably, the Beni Ouarain, Boucherouite, Azilal, or Kilim tribes come to mind.”

The materials used

Berber rugs are made from lamb or sheep wool and woven by hand using a traditional Arabic loom.

The production of a wool Berber rug involves several stages. First, the selection of wool for the rug is crucial, which can come from various sources like sheep or even camels. The wool is then carded to remove impurities, making it softer. Cleaning the wool is also essential. Next, the wool is woven on a traditional loom, and after cleaning, the rug is laid out to let the wool dry.

Sheep raised in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco are known for producing the world’s finest wool due to the favorable climate for sheep farming. The High Atlas region experiences two distinct seasons: the dry season (November to March) and the rainy season (June to October).

Recognizing a Moroccan rug is relatively easy with a keen eye. Secondhand rugs, known for their durability, can last for years in the market.

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