History and Lore of Moroccan Rugs
Moroccan Rugs have various origins that still reverberate both in today’s rural weaving culture and contemporary commercial Rug production alike.
The main ones are:
- An urban Arab manufacture that was influenced by the Ottoman Empire.
- A nomadic Arab tradition in the plains around Marrakech.
- The Berber tribes of Morocco that followed regional cultural traditions.
- There is also significant evidence for the influence of the Moorish and Jewish migrants.
Especially in the urban centers as seen in embroideries of the 18th and 19th century. Additionally, there was a mutual influence of the weavings from the urban centers of Rabat and Salé and the ones from the Ait Ouaouzguite due to the cultural relations between the Jewish populations among the Ait Ouaouzguite and in the capital of Rabat.
The Jewish migrants were highly skilled in crafts.
They were responsible for the dyeing of wool and were especially known for the indigo dye, as well as for the refined weaving techniques that were predominantly performed in southern Morocco.
Since there was no real demand for Moroccan rugs before the 20th century, they were mainly produced for the weaver’s own households and for the domestic market.
Though some were produced for export in manufactures set up by the French protectorate in the 1930s. Pile rugs are almost exclusively made with a Berber knot and a symmetrical knot.
The Berber knot makes a denser and more robust rug while the symmetrical knot creates a soft, elegant surface.
A trend for upcycled rag boucherouite rugs with a wild, colorful aesthetic started in the 1960s and 1970s in the plains around the towns of Beni Mellal and Boujad (mainly settled by Arabs) and spread to other Berber regions in the 1990s due to the increased decline of nomadic lifestyles and the resulting lack of available wool.
Rather than having access to wool as a byproduct of shepherding, weavers used waste fabrics to knot exuberant, artistic designs that have come to be greatly admired for their artistic freedom of expression.
The classic ‘minimalist’ vocabulary of geometric shapes with the triangle as the basic form, and its derivatives (diamonds, zigzag lines, scatter motifs in a diamond lattice), was extended in an innovative way in accordance with new living conditions and weavers’ personal experiences.
Boucherouite rugs were the subject of the ‘Desert Design’ exhibition at Musée Yves Saint Laurent in 2019.
“historic context p6 Marrakech carpet Week 2022”