The Berber Moroccan rugs remains one of the most authentic expressions of folk art in Morocco; and, as the carpet makers are primarily women, rug-making is a genuine means of self-realization for the woman in Moroccan society. Through her carpet designs she expresses her problems, misfortunes, passions and aspirations.
Her choice of decorative elements, motifs and colours are the fruit of real creative endeavor, for the carpet-maker rarely works from pre-established patterns. Each Berber Moroccan rug is an adventure into the unknown as new elements are introduced, spontaneously and harmoniously, into the familiar environment.
Where are Moroccan rugs made?
The work of many artisans in Morocco is intricate, beautifully finished and full of symbolism. Second to none, but rarely claiming any credit for her artistry is the modest Moroccan carpet maker.
If, in the past, Berber Moroccan rugs were produced exclusively by mountain dwellers, today their production as both functional and art objects is shared by town and country.
Rugs cooperatives, a relatively recent development in Morocco, encourage the reproduction of the classic designs, promote the trade and encourage artistic creativity.
In terms of both their organisation and goals! Carpet cooperatives contribute to the improvement of the socio-économic condition of their artisans and, for this reason, have become the places where the rug-maker can most successfully affirm herself in her career.
This podcast presents a sample of the different types of Moroccan rugs produced in these cooperatives. It does not, however, pretend to be an exhaustive survey of the whole range of carpets produced in Morocco; but only a sort of window onto a rich and varied world which, we hope, those who are interested will come and visit for themselves.
We have also included a number of guide-lines for judging the quality of a rug and Prices indication.
Are Moroccan rugs good quality?
The evaluation of a Moroccan rugs is largely a matter of very personal and independent judgment. The choice of a Berber carpet is both a rational and an emotional process, for the work of one artisan is never really comparable to that of another.
Nevertheless, the technical quality of Moroccan carpets is above all determined by the number of knots to the square meter, the nature of the raw material, the delicacy and combination of the colors, and of course the Berber style rug.
Together these variables determine the price of a Moroccan carpet.
What are the different types of Moroccan rugs?
The very wide range of Moroccan carpets have been studied and, as a result, classified into two large groups :
— The Moroccan urban rugs.
— The berber “tribal” Moroccan rugs.
The Moroccan urban rugs
This category includes two types of rug (The Rabat & Mediouna rug). Apparently of the same origin, each type has achieved over the years its special identity. Both types can be classified as fine-quality Moroccan carpets. Of purely eastern (Arabo-Persian) origin, each has undergone profound transformations and taken on its own stamp. New designs and juxtapositions of colors have added to enrich a very diverse «language».
Except for the extra high quality carpet, wich is one hundred percent wool, these carpets are made of wool knotted on a warp and west of cotton yarn.
What is a Rabat rug?
Introduced by the Gharnatis who were expelled from Andalusia these carpets recall that region in their floral and animal motifs. The «Rbati» “from Rabat” carpet is identifiable by its wide ornate border around a rather free red central field containing either a medallion and grain motifs or a large cartouche, the «Koubba». The execution and selection of colors are carried out with particular care.
These traditional Moroccan rugs exist in 4 qualities Standard, Medium, High Quality and Extra High quality, wich has at least 40/40 knots per dm² or 160,000 knots to the m². The average size of these carpets is 3 x 2 m.
What is a Mediouna rug?
Also of Eastern origin, this carpet is noted for the attention given to its central field, which, unlike the Rbati carpet, often contains several medallions, leaving very little space for the border.
This type of Moroccan handmade rug is marufactured in 4 qualities: Standard, Medium, High quality and Extra-High quality, wich has at least 40/40 knots/dm2 or 160,000 knots/m². The average size of size of these carpets is 2,10 x 1,70 m.
What is a Berber style rug?
Berber rug, primarily a very functional rug, a taste for ornamentation is still evident.
The patterns and motifs range from the very simplest, even naive, to the most intricate. The diamond, for example, characterizes all the Middle Atlas Moroccan Beni Ourain rug, with the frequency of repetition varying from one tribe to another.
The Berber rugs can be sub-divided into three large families.
– The High Atlas Mountain rug.
– The Middle Atlas “Beni Ourain” rug.
– The Haouz rug.
All carpets in this category are stamped for 2 qualities: Standard and High quality.
Carpets of the Hight Atlas
These Berber carpets are created primarily by the Glaoua and Ait Ouaouzguite tribes. Each type of tribal Moroccan rug carries the name of the tribe with which it originated. The motifs are geometric – most often triangles, squares, diamonds repeated singly or in combination according to the rhythm established by the carpet-maker. It is not unusual to find human or animal representations among the motifs.
There is a tendancy today to create more oriental designs. These, however, are not particularly faithful to the original patterns.
These Moroccan handmade rug are fairly carefully executed by means of Gheordés -knots around two warp yarns, giving the carpet an average of 20 x 20 knots per dm². or 40,000 knots per m². Another type of carpet made in the same region combines flat and long piles. Such carpets have been attributed to the Glaoua tribe from whom they get their name.
These are all-wool carpets (knots, warp and weft).
The average size is 3 x 2 m, and the pile is 1 cm high.
What is Beni Ourain rug? “Middle Atlas”
Apparently, these are the only Berber style rug whose designs have remained unchanged since they first appeared. Nevertheless; the execution and design vary from one tribe to another. The principal centres of production are Zemmour, Zaër, Zaïane, Béni-M’guild, Ait-Youssi and Béni-Ouraine. These carpets present strong geometric patterns without being at all monotonous. They vary from the predominantly white carpets of the Aits-Youssi to the exuberant colors of the Béni-M’guild.
The knots used in execution vary. One finds:
– The Ghéordès knot;
– The Senneh knot (unknown in the rest of Africa);
– The Soumak knot – and, finally, a knot specific to those regions called «Toughenyiyi» by the Béni-M’guild and formed around 4 warp yarns. The number of knots rarely exceeds 20 x 20 per dm² ; that is, there are fewer than 40,000 knots per m².
This family of Berber carpets represents a wide variety of designs. They are all 100% wool and their average size is 2 m x 1,50 m.
The Haouz carpets of Marrakech
It has been generally agreed that the tribes in the region of the Tensift River “Marrakech” who are involved in the production of these tribal Moroccan rugs include the Chiadma, Rehamna, H’mar and Ouled Bou Sbaâ. These are the only Arab tribes known for a type of carpet which reflects practically-no Oriental influence.
The warp of their Berber carpets is a mixture of wool and goat hair or is entirely goat hair.
The pile is around 1 cm high and the carpets are 2,50 x 1,40 m in size.
The designs are extremely free and assymmetrical. They are, perhaps, the type of Berber area rugs where the widest latitude is given to individual expression.
The carpet is executed with a Ghéordès knot to a density of 15 to 20 knots per dm², or 20,000 to 40,000 knots per m².
In the category of rural carpets one could also include those made in the East of Morocco by the Béni-Bou-Yahi and Béni-Bou-Zeggou. These are always very large and contain around 15 x 15 knots per dm², that is 22,500 knots per m². They are, curiously enough, rather similar to the carpets of the Middle Atlas.
Why are Moroccan rugs so expensive?
Marking and Stamping
In order to prevent speculation and to guarantee the good quality and authenticity of the Moroccan carpet, a group of regulations governing quality control have been in vigour for a number of years. The Dahir of 24 th April 1974 defined not only the quality of each type of carpet, but the conditions under which inspection would be effected, as well as a list of quality-control and marking centers.
Thus Government Stamps are accorded only to Moroccan handmade rug produced by artisans, to manufactured carpets of artistic quality and to modern carpets which fulfill certain norms.
Quality norms have been established for each type of carpet
Moroccan Urban rugs
1) Rabat rug:
Ordinary quality 50,000 points per m² minimum
Medium quality 70,000 points per m² minimum
High quality 90,000 points per m² minimum
Extra high quality 160,000 pointsper m² minimum
2) Médiouna rug:
Ordinary quality 40,000 points per m² minimum
Medium quality 60,000 points per m² minimum
High quality 80,000 points per m² minimum
Extra high quality : 160,000 points per m² minimum.
Berber Moroccan Rugs
Ordinary quality: from 25,000 to 40,000 points per m²
High quality: 40,000 points per m² minimum.
In addition the Government Stamp is accorded to carpets possessing the following general characteristics:
– Moroccan handmade rugs woven or knotted entirely by hand and made of completely devolved, or degreased, wool in the weft.
The wool used must be only that spun from fleece.
– The colors must be from color fast dyes.
The Stamp consists of a color-coded label:
– Light grey for ordinary quality: O.Q.
– Yellow for medium quality: M.Q.
– Light blue for high quality: H.Q.
– Pink for Extra high quality E.H.Q.
How much should a rug cost in Morocco?
In order to provide some guide-lines for the prospective buyer of Moroccan carpets, we have established the following price-list to give some indication of the range of prices to be expected for each type of rug. These prices are in no way fixed, however, as the Moroccan market operates freely, and any enquiries should be directed to the regional artisan delegation.
Thus, for all traditional Moroccan rugs, the price varies according to the quality-the most commonly found being:
– Medium quality : 600 to 900 dirhams/m²
– High quality : 800 to 1500 dirhams/m²
– Extra-high quality : 1600 to 2000 dirhams/m²
– Medium quality : 600 to 900 dirhams/m²
– High quality : 900 to 1600 dirhams/m²
– Extra high-quality : 1700 to 2200 dirhams/m²
– Medium quality : 500 to 700 dirhams/m²
– High quality : 650 to 800 dirhams/m²
– Standard quality : 600 to 900 dirhams/m²
– Standard quality : 700 to 1000 dirhams/m².