Discover The Berber Traditions of Carpet Weaving in Morocco

Since time immemorial, the tradition of trade and craftsmanship has played an important role in Moroccan society.
Whether it is gastronomy, leather goods or ceramics, Morocco still has many small manufacturers who use the methods of yesteryear and who will offer you a unique souvenir of your trip.
The production of carpets is one of the symbols of Moroccan technology and craftsmanship in the world. However, before becoming the favorite pieces of interior designers and being used as decoration, they originally had a completely different function and have a long history.
Indeed, this art goes back several centuries and the first carpets were made in Antiquity in the north-east of the country and, more precisely, in the Middle Atlas region, known for its peaks.
These carpets were made by Berber tribes to protect the population from the cold during the harsh winters of this region.
Over the years, it has been discovered that the manufacture of Berber carpets was not only practiced in the Middle Atlas region but also in several other regions of Morocco, making it a widespread art throughout the country.
Each Berber clan or tribe has its own carpet pattern and sometimes a different method of making it. In fact, the ornaments, but also the geometric figures of the carpets, make it possible to identify a particular village or tribe at the origin of their manufacture.
Thus, there are many variations of carpets, ranging from the soberest, with one or two colors and simple shapes, to the most extravagant and colorful, sometimes even with a different composition of wool or cotton patterns.
This diversity has made them very popular all over the world because today there are carpets for every taste and for every interior. Kulim carpets are made of 100% natural wool, usually in ecru with diamonds or black triangles.

Moroccan carpets are often a must for design enthusiasts, as they are unique pieces that add a special touch to any room. Their shades range from extraordinarily vivid to neutral, from defined patterns to more flowing designs.
These handmade works of art, often with motifs symbolizing fertility, survival, and the natural world, are much more complex than the average carpet.
Due to their discreet elegance and infinite variety, they fit into contemporary maximalist interiors as well as eclectic and casual settings. Moroccan carpets are famous all over the world.
In the West, tightly woven Berber carpets can be found in modern homes, cafés, and offices. Fashion and housing companies such as West Elm, Pottery Barn, Anthropology, and Restoration Hardware offer original Berber carpets imported from Morocco as well as machine-made replicas.
Hundreds of traditional patterns and colors are available in Morocco. One of the most popular carpets in the West is the so-called Beni Ourain carpet, which is usually made of sheep’s wool and comes from the Middle Atlas region between Khenifra and Taza, where the many variations of carpets can be found.
Beni is an Arabic word translated as “son of” or village/tribe/skin, and the closeness with which these tribes live means that their carpets are somewhat similar with subtle differences in design elements and colors.

Traditional Berber carpets have distinctive patterns and colors and are woven from sheep’s wool or camel hair (nylon and olefin are also available). The materials are hand washed and naturally dyed, from saffron yellow to wild mint green, pomegranate, and henna. These carpets are known for their strong geometric patterns and have been dated to the Merinid period. The carpets of the Middle Atlas generally have a traditional lozenge weave.
Moroccan Berber tribes have developed a variety of weaves to adapt to different climates. Carpets from the mountainous regions of Morocco have wider loops and are loosely knotted to protect them from the cold, while those from urban areas have a finer weave. Carpets from Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains are used as sleeping mats, but in mild climates, the knots are usually 2 cm high.

Berber weaving is largely dependent on women’s culture and is traditionally transmitted within the home. The young apprentice is expected to learn the different weaving techniques, patterns, color ranges, and designs.
Historically, women wove carpets for their families, and men traditionally produced more specialized carpets as professional master weavers. These inspired patterns were the motivation for the production of more modern carpets.
In the imperial cities of Morocco and many developing countries, carpets were historically a favored gift for people belonging to the elite social classes and were also used to adorn palaces and other sacred spaces. The more urban carpets were also used as prayer mats and in the hammam.
Travelers interested in the weaving of Berber carpets can visit a Moroccan weavers’ cooperative and watch a demonstration of Berber carpets or consider taking a private tour of Morocco to Berber villages where they can see first-hand woven carpets.
Some old Berber carpets are also kept in museums such as Dar Batha. These intricate carpets can be purchased in the souks of Fez, Marrakech, and Rabat.

Berber carpets from the hills and plains of the Haouz region do not generally follow traditional rules or patterns. In this region, the weavers emphasize the freedom of the individual in the whole composition.
The carpets have a special style and are often captivating works of art. The carpets of the Haouz tribes are made by those who live in the province of Tahanout, on the outskirts of the rural region of Marrakech, in the valleys of the Ourika, Asni, and Amizmiz rivers.
Berber carpets from the Haouz can be bought locally or in the Moroccan souks.
Form of art
The bright colors, deep patterns, and weaving techniques of the different regions have their style. Each tribe has a particular pattern and often represents a history, revealing ceremonial acts or motifs often related to fertility and protection.
Like any other type of abstract art, interpretations can best be guided by additional knowledge of the culture, songs, and legends.