The beginnings of the Moroccan Berber rug, its origins and the significance of its motifs go back a long way. It does not come down from the oriental carpets of the Islamic era but the similarity of the technique of knotting and certain patterns indicates common roots.
Away from the great civilizations of Antiquity and far from the cultural exchanges of the Silk Road, the Moroccan Berber rug has retained its originality in the mountainous regions of the Atlas and the Atlantic plains.
When the motives of the Moroccan Berber rugs are brought together with the signs of parietal art and the artifacts of the first cultures of man, the same principles are found in the use of signs and forms, and there are surprising similarities or Correspondences, even with the phenomena of the Upper Paleolithic of Europe, the Neolithic of the East and the Mediterranean basin. Thus, the Moroccan Berber rug may perhaps be considered the last testimony of this archaic world.
The abstract and geometric language of the Moroccan Berber rug is derived from the body, the form and the functions of the human sexual organs. Based on the duality and the meeting of the two sexes, it becomes the expression of a magic of universal fertility, including all nature.
As an artistic creation of the Berber woman, her carpet mainly reflects the phases of her life and the experience of her sexual life: as a virgin, as a new bride, union with man, pregnancy, and childbirth.
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the beauty of carpets and wall hangings, as well as the place this production occupied in Morocco, was already emphasized.
In the Middle Ages, Moroccan Berber rugs were among the gifts offered to the foreigner ambassadors and were an important component of the trading caravans where camels were seen in silk and golden thread.
Among the different meanings of the term “rug” in the Arab origin, we can retain the term of “flower bed” or “which is stretched on the ground used as support”.
The Moroccan Berber rug is a luxury gift, and in the 19th century, the Moroccan Berber rug was one of the most exported products to Europe. It was very present in France during the universal exhibitions of 1867, 1878 and 1889. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, carpet weaving was very present in almost all Moroccan cities.
The Moroccan Berber rug is an art based on the knowledge of ancestral civilization of people who have, throughout history, expressed their knowledge through decorative means, sculptures, poems, drawings, colors, etc.
A Moroccan Berber rug is, therefore, an artistic object made in families of great pastoral tradition and who relied generally on the breeding and the agriculture for their living. The manufacture of traditional carpets, in all their forms, requires the presence of certain conditions, basic tools, and equipment, including:
– Pure and healthy wool, as a raw material which will be transformed into yarns of different sizes and properties, natural dyes.
– A suitable material of different shapes, depending on the intended use
– Competent staff who master traditional weaving techniques and decorative patterns.
The Moroccan Berber rug weaving is an essential activity in some regions, as it plays an important economic role for the livelihood of families. It then follows a traditional mode of marketing, based on barter. In a household, men and women work cooperatively. The woman is in charge of carpet weaving and modeling, and the husband takes care of marketing in the weekly markets and buys the food and other products they need to live.
From an artistic point of view, the best Moroccan Berber 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 originated. These motifs relate the spirit of coexistence that has always existed in these tribes since a distant history with people of different convictions and different civilizations
Mastery of the art of weaving carpets is passed on from mother to daughter, which is a tradition of learning in rural areas.
The traditional common visual language of the community, as well as techniques for tying the weaving yarns with fingering, are also learned on the job.
The decorative patterns on the different weaves are very significant and differ from one tribe to another. The carpet is a Berber-speaking tradition because it was in southern Morocco, in the Upper and Middle Atlas.
Rugs of Berber tradition are the most important and most representative category in the world of Moroccan carpets.