Moroccan Rugs and Carpets
Morocco has one of the most interesting rug weaving histories of any one country in the world. Located in northwestern Africa, Morocco boasts a unique range of geography, from snow capped mountains to Mediterranean beaches, from arid desert to a long coast along the Atlantic Ocean.
Over the millennia that people have been living in Morocco a number of distinct cultures and civilizations have developed in the area. Because of the uniquely variegated nature of the country’s climate and physical characteristics, some of these cultures developed in relative isolation from the others, thus enabling them to maintain unique cultural traits and languages that have been largely immune to the influence of dominant cultures.
Perhaps the most interesting such example is the Berber people of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, who have spoken their own language and practiced their own unique crafts for thousands of years. Among the crafts that are most important to Morocco’s Berber people is the weaving of rugs and carpets. Native to the High Atlas Mountains, the Berbers are an excellent example of a culture that has historically woven rugs and carpets for utilitarian purposes.
Because of the freezing temperatures, heavy snows, and generally unfriendly environment of the High Atlas range, the Berber people depended upon their rugs and carpets for warmth, protection, and to help carry belongings from one place to another. Because these weaving were such an essential component of day to day Berber life, it is only natural that, over time, designs and motifs important to the Berbers found their way into their very fibers.
The aesthetics that characterize Berber design are centered firmly in the abstract; rather than depicting individuals, scenes, or even repeating patterns, the Berbers would generally weave splashes of color, brown lines, and irregular geometric figures into their carpets. This aesthetic was developed by the Berbers centuries ago - literally hundreds of years before Minimalism, Abstraction, and Expressionism became important veins in the design world of the west.
This makes Berber carpets unique, and it makes them uniquely well suited to contemporary, Western tastes. As authentic and distinct as any type of weaving style to have developed over the past thousand years, that of the Berber peoples of Morocco is one of the most ancient, and one of the most fascinating.