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The Moroccan Berber Rug

The "Berber Rug" or "Tribal Rug "

Moroccan berber rug post img

The rug is an object of art based on ancestral knowledge of the peoples who have, throughout history, expressed their knowledge through decorative means, sculptures, poems, drawings, colors, etc. ... The rug is therefore an artistic object made in families of great pastoral tradition and who live in general of the breeding and the agriculture,thus of the rural families.The manufacture of traditional rugs, in all their forms, requires the presence of certain conditions, means and basic material including, in particular:

      - pure and healthy wool, as a raw material that will be transformed into yarns of various sizes and properties, natural dyes .
      - a suitable material (loom) of different shapes, depending on the desired use .
     - Knowledgeable staff mastering traditional weaving techniques and decorative patterns.

Rug weaving is an essential activity in some settings because it plays a vital economic role in the livelihoods of families. It is then part of a traditional marketing mode, based on barter. In a household, men and women work in cooperation. The woman takes care of the weaving and modeling of the carpets and the husband takes care of the marketing in the weekly markets, and makes, on the other hand, the purchase of the food products and other products which they need to live.

Negotiation around a Berber carpet


From an artistic point of view, the best rug is still made in some Berber regions based on local natural products (dyes). The decorative motifs used are the expression of the culture of the tribe from which the product originates. These reasons relate the spirit of cohabitation that has always existed in these tribes since a distant history with people of different convictions and different civilizations (Muslims, Jews, Berbers, Christians). Mastering the art of weaving rugs is passed from mother to daughter, which is a tradition of learning in rural areas.


The common traditional visual language of the community as well as the techniques for skillfully knitting the threads of a weave are also learned on the job.


The decorative motifs on the various weavings are very significant, and differ from one tribe to another. The rug is a Berber-speaking tradition because it is in southern Morocco, in the Upper and Middle Atlas, that it has flourished (under the name "Tazarbit"). The Ait Ouaouzguit Center, in the province of Ouarzazate, is one of the main cradles of this artisanal production. This world-renowned center is located in the High Atlas, where carpet making predominates. The Aït Ouaouzguite rug from the tribe of the Taznakht region is the rug of the High Atlas par excellence with the wool of the better worked sheep, bright colors and well-ordered geometric patterns.


The Berber carpets are the largest and most representative category of Moroccan berber rugs worldwide. It is a typically Atlas production with exceptional decoration and motifs, specific to each tribe. It can be subdivided as follows: - The berber rugs of the Middle Atlas (Meknes - Rabat region), Zemmour-Zaer-Zain-Bani Mtir-Ait Sgougou-Beni M'guil tribe. The Middle Atlas is home to most tribes weaving rugs. These berber rugs are known for their silky white velvet. Nodes have a height that sometimes reaches 10 cm or more. These berber rugs serve as mattresses, blankets and show a simple decoration made of diamonds. They are called "achdif". The carpets of the Middle Atlas are woven according to techniques that vary somewhat from one tribe to another.



The Zemmour berber rug from the Middle Atlas is one of those frameless berber rugs that have red or orange red backgrounds alternating with yellow, white and brown patterns.


-Tribe of Beni M’guil-

The carpets of the Middle Atlas (region of Fes - Taza)

: Beni Ouarain Tribes - Ait Ighezzrane - Beni Alaham - Ait Halli - Ait Youssi - Ait Seghrouchéne - Marmoucha - Ait Youb - Ait Izdeg - Ait Yaâcoub.

The Beni Ouarain rug of the Middle Atlas is traditionally woven in the form of a large carpet with a white background and brown drawing; thick to cope with the rigors of the climate, it is able to retain heat and provide more comfort.



Rugs of the region of Mrirt (Middle Atlas)


The carpets of the High Atlas:

The berber rugs of the High Atlas are woven using a technique similar to that of the urban carpet. They are also called the rugs of Aït Ouaouzguites, a tribe that inhabits the territory between Ouarzazate and Taznakht. Glaoua carpets from the High Atlas combine three textile production techniques: knotted stitches, tapestry and flatweave structured in symmetrical windows. Hand woven, knotted, it represents a unique style of its own, combining in itself all the arts of rugs weaving since it is woven, knotted and embroidered at the same time; the Berbers tend threads on the sides, fold them in two and tie them together to get a bag for their travels. Colors like wool are of natural origin.

Glaoui-Berber-Rug-Moroccan 1Glaoui-Berber-Rug-Moroccan 2

Glaoui-Berber-Rug-Moroccan 3Glaoui-Berber-Rug-Moroccan 4

Haouz carpets from Marrakech:

The Haouz rugs of Marrakesh are part of the rural rugs. The gnarled carpet tribes that surround Marrakesh are almost all of Arab origin (Rehamna rugs, H'mar carpets, Oulades Bousebaâ carpets). The rugs of the High Atlas are different in their size, their chromium and the arrangement of their motifs. There are 4 categories of quality officially classified by color: current (green), average (yellow), superior (blue) and extra superior (orange). Rehamna is an Arab village located a few kilometers from Marrakesh; his rugs are dressed in a very particular style; the patterns sometimes associate insects or characters in broken line.

Rhamna-Haouz-Moroccan-rug 1Rhamna-Haouz-Moroccan-rug 2

Rhamna-Haouz-Moroccan-rug 3Rhamna-Haouz-Moroccan-rug 4

Rugs of  Rehamna


In these three tribes, the node used is the symmetric node. The symmetrical knot is also called Turkish knot or Ghiordes knot, from the name of the place where it was originally used, in Turkey. It is still sometimes called turkbaff.  In the symmetrical knot, the velvet thread (in red in the illustration) is wrapped around each of the two warp threads that it surrounds (in light yellow). Between each row of nodes, insert the weft thread (marked in blue) on one or more rows.  The symmetrical knot gives the berber rug a slightly stronger consistency and is often used for thicker rugs.


The warp threads are made of goat hair or a mixture of goat hair and black wool, the rows of knots are separated by four to twelve weft threads, the weft is often of red wool, the weaving of these carpets is loose, we find the same number of nodes in length and width. One of the characteristics of the Haouz carpets is their sawtooth edge, which penetrates the knotted velvet. These edges are woven into goat hair.

The Chichaouas of the Haouz region of Marrakech, between the High and the Middle Atlas, are large format carpets with red wool to orange knotted on the son of chains of goat hair.


Red-Chichaoua-Moroccan-berber-rug 1Red-Chichaoua-Moroccan-berber-rug 3

Red-Chichaoua-Moroccan-berber-rug 2Red-Chichaoua-Moroccan-berber-rug 4


The Zanafi Rug from the region west of Ouarzazate and composed of black and white bands can be folded and assembled to form a grain bag or to serve as a blanket.

Zanafi-Berber-Rug-High-Atlas 1Zanafi-Berber-Rug-High-Atlas 2

Zanafi-Berber-Rug-High-Atlas 3

In general, the artistic composition uses simple patterns that take all possible forms: rhombus, square, triangle, zigzag line, etc.

The Berber kilim rug is associated with the art of weaving, embroidery, but also nomadic Berber art, the art of the Atlas Mountains. Embroidery patterns come from the meaning and tattoos of each tribe and family. Kilims can be wool or silk; the patterns, transmitted from one generation to the next, vary according to regions, such as colors.

Moroccan-Berber-Kilim-Rug 1Moroccan-Berber-Kilim-Rug 2

 A good rug can count up to 480'000 knots per square meter and can require up to nine months of work, for example a Taznakht carpet, a Berber lockstitched model with natural colors such as saffron, henna, mint and others.

Moroccan-berber-Taznakht-Rug 1

Rugs of Taznakht

Moroccan-berber-Taznakht-Rug 2


  Rug of Zayane


Renowned among the oldest rugs made in Morocco, Taznakht carpets and those of Zayane, with the hanbal of the same region, are now the pride of Moroccan craftsmanship. 


Originating from the High Atlas, the Taznakht rug is made of knots on two lines; their background is yellow, their designs are geometric, dense with red, dark green and off-white colors. The hanbel is a woven piece, lighter and less thick than the carpet. Its use differs from one region to another: It is used as a blanket, as a sofa or as a decoration during national or private holidays. He sometimes replaces the rug.

hanbel middle atlas Moroccan Rugs

The raw materials used in this kind of rugs are pure wool or good quality cotton. The yarns are distinguished by their sophisticated spinning and their cleanliness. The "hanbel" is predominantly red with yellow of green, black, and brown. These colors are obtained from existing plant in the region that produces it. Berber of origin, the hanbal necessarily carries patterns sometimes borrowing from nature its shapes and features, sometimes to the Amazigh alphabet as to its contours.


Author : K.G

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