As an interior designer and someone who’s dating a Moroccan who is equally addicted to textiles, my love affair with Moroccan rugs came naturally- the colors, the textures, the slight imperfections of these handwoven, one-of-a-kind treasures, what’s not to love? More than that though, there’s a true artistry behind Moroccan rugs- most of them woven by women in Berber villages during their spare time. They work on the rugs sometimes a couple of hours a day, weaving in their own artistic expressions and symbols that are used to communicate events that have taken place (like a marriage or a birth of a child), as well as their hopes and dreams (unity, peace, happiness).
Moroccan rug styles are as varied as the landscape of Morocco. There are 45 different Berber tribes throughout Morocco, residing in climates ranging from the Sahara desert to the snowy caps of the Atlas Mountains. Each tribe has their own distinct style of rug making that is not only stylistically different but provides for different needs – thick, furry rugs in colder climates to keep warm, thinner flat weaves in desert regions etc. Here, an introduction to the two main categories of Moroccan rugs:
A Berber-style desert camp made up of kilims
Kilims are flat-woven rugs that do not have a pile. They are often colorful, featuring intricate geometric designs, although different regions have their own distinctive styles and weaving techniques. The threads in kilims are traditionally colored using natural dyes like indigo (blue), saffron (yellow) and henna (red), which is why these colors feature prominently in most styles of kilims.
The most popular type of Berber carpet here in the US is probably the Beni Ourain – the thick, white, fluffy rug style with brown lines, criss-cross, and diamonds. They are super soft underfoot and are used by the Berbers to keep warm in the cold winters. Their simplistic patterns make them a classic that blends into various styles of interior design, contributing to its popularity.
Other styles that are finding its way into design and home décor are the Azilal and Boujad styles. Opposite from the Beni Ourain, Azilals and Boujads are bright, usually a kaleidoscope of colors, and feature irregular or abstract designs.
Want to learn more about the different styles of Moroccan rugs? Stay tuned, I’ll be doing a series where I get more in depth about each rug style.