Moroccan rugs have taken the furnishing world by storm over the last few decades, but they’ve actually been in existence for centuries. They’ve gotten so popular that big-name homeware companies have begun producing their own Moroccan rugs by employing local craftsmen and the Berber tribes who reside in the Moroccan Atlas. However, these have strayed considerably far from the original rugs.
These carpets are rich with Moroccan art, craftsmanship, and culture. It tells the story of its weavers and its people, and the patterns are representative of symbols that are integral to its history. Here are a few things you should know about Moroccan rugs:
The Origins of Moroccan Rugs
These colorful carpets date all the way back to the 2nd century, BC. They were first found in the High and Middle Atlas mountains that run through the country and were originally crafted out of virgin sheep’s wool by the women of nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes. These rugs did more than cover their floors—they also served as blankets, mattresses, and seats. Each rug is weaved with the story and experiences of its crafter, and are replete with the symbolism of its respective regions.
One of the most famous Moroccan rugs are the Berber-style carpets. These are weaved with the distinct Berber knot and feature symbols that were found in Moroccan parietal art. Zigzag lines are a prominent characteristic of these rugs, and these refer to serpent symbolism that is widely present in their culture. Other symbols, such as the diamond, the fish, and the trellis, are reminiscent of femininity and fertility.
Where to Get Authentic Moroccan Rugs
The most reliable way to find authentic Moroccan rugs is to contact a trusted seller who directly sources carpets from Morocco. Most homeware brands carry synthetic rugs that are similarly priced to the actual handcrafted carpet, which can make it even more difficult to discern real from fake.
The best way to get genuine Moroccan rugs is to go directly to Morocco where there are plenty of carpet peddlers. However, these sellers may inflate the prices, so you may need sharp bargaining skills. Conversely, there are hawkers or curbside sellers who will try to sell you rugs at a very low price. These tend to be rugs that were made in different countries and out of artificial materials.
How to Tell a Moroccan Rug from an Imitation Rug
Sometimes, it can be difficult to identify real Moroccan Berber rugs from imitation ones. However, one of the easiest ways to tell is to scrutinize the details of the knots. Real Berber rugs are handmade, so some asymmetry is to be expected. The knotting on the other side of the carpet should be crooked.
Additionally, if the reverse side of the rug is made of hard plastic, that’s a clear sign that the rug is made of synthetic material.
Authentic Berber rugs usually have fringes or tassels on one side as these are used to finish off the carpet. However, Berber artisans have begun to put tassels on both sides given its popularity among its customers.
Genuine Moroccan rugs are always handmade and are weaved with 100% undyed virgin wool. This gives it a yellowish tinge. Fake Moroccan rugs often mix materials together, like wool and synthetic. If you have an allergic reaction to the carpet, it may be fake; pure wool has hypoallergenic properties.
Moroccan rugs are stunning additions to your home that are abundant in color and culture. If they are properly taken care of, these rugs will not only endure the test of time—they can easily become a family heirloom to pass onto future generations, too!
Looking for authentic Moroccan rugs of all kinds, from Azilal rugs to Beni Ourain? Check out our catalog at Atlas Weavers, a fair trade project where we offer carpets in various designs and sizes that are beautiful and long-lasting. Pass on the Moroccan tradition by visiting our website and adding one to your home today!