The weaving of beautiful rugs for the home is a staple of Moroccan culture and stems from the many traditions from the various Berber and Arab tribes. Each has its own unique traditions, techniques, and ancestral influences. As such, these pieces can differ from region to region, from tribe to tribe, and family to family in their usage of dyes, weaves, loops, knots, and patterns.
Because of their beauty, Moroccan rugs have seen great popularity for use outside Morocco in the last hundred years. Unfortunately, it can make it difficult to determine which carpets are authentically handwoven, and which are mass-produced.
When choosing a carpet for your home, it is important to familiarise yourself with how they are made to avoid buying overpriced fakes that have no true value compared to an authentically-woven piece. Here are four tips in determining the authenticity of a Moroccan rug:
- Watch out for the “vintage” rugs
The word is loosely used to describe many Moroccan rugs, but it is highly unlikely that all the pieces on the market today are vintage. The original purpose of many of these carpets was not to mass-produce them for profit but to decorate one’s home.
Many of them are washed, chemically treated, or sun-faded to give them the look and feel of a truly vintage or mid-century product. It is not uncommon for new carpets to be beaten and mistreated to give them that vintage feel that puts them in such high demand.
- Figure out if the rug you’re buying is a copy
It is not uncommon for mass-produced copies of a truly rare Moroccan rug to appear on the market after it is featured in a book, magazine, or museum. If you are not sure about the reliability of the vendor to which you are speaking, it will be best to do a reverse Google image search of the piece that’s being sold to you.
- Ask about its history, and be aware of the little nuances in culture
There has been a rise in carpets marketed by dealers as coming from the Beni Mrit tribe, which actually does not exist. Mrit is just a trading town in the Middle Atlas mountains where women come to sell their woven wares, and “beni” is a word meaning “sons of.”
Sellers tried to capitalise on the name of the actual tribe Beni Quarain to give the rugs from Mrit a more exotic appeal. In reality, none of these carpets was truly authentic and was all likely made recently or mass-produced.
While it is difficult to understand all the little nuances in Moroccan culture to tell if your rug is authentic, it is best to familiarise yourself with the market so that you know what you receive is the product you actually wanted.
- Mind the ethics of the seller
The mass production of these counterfeit Moroccan rugs has caused a rise in river pollution from the harmful chemicals used in the fake ageing process. As such, it is important that your seller actually sources their rugs from the Berber people.
A good seller will tell you when the carpet was obtained and about the family that they obtained it from. This not only ensures environmentally ethical practices were used in the creation of the carpet, but it also ensures that the Berber people are properly compensated for the cultural artefacts for which they are responsible.
Morrocan rugs are a beautiful addition to any home. When they are authentically made, they are handcrafted with the weaver’s personal language of weaving, containing symbols and patterns deeply rooted in the family’s ancestral history. Most importantly, such pieces are created with love, which is why it is important to make sure that the products you buy are authentic.
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