The World-Famous Boucherouite or Berber Rugs from Morocco
Morocco is well-known for its wool carpets created by semi-nomadic Berbers. These indigenous peoples have always avoided metropolitan areas as herders and farmers, and their weaving symbolizes their independence. It is less affected by the traditional symmetry of Middle Eastern models, instead favoring wild, improvisatory forms.
The style in issue is known as boucherouite (pronounced boo-shay-REET), which is derived from a Moroccan-Arabic term for damaged and repurposed garments. The carpets described, created by women for household use, are essentially variants on the modest rags.
These domestic goods appear to be dressed up and ready to party, with their dazzling designs and bright colors; they seem to be more fit for framing than stomping underfoot.
What are Boucherouite Rugs?
It is a French version of the Arabic word for "rag." These rugs are made of recycled cloth dyed many times and worn out many times.
They are big and bold and embellished with vibrantly colored geometric designs and with an allover composition in which no motif is precisely repeated.
Furniture and clothing of this sort are worked out of discarded cloth, using whatever is at hand, and the feel is more utilitarian, reflecting the circumstances of Morocco's Berber mountain people.
Like many Moroccan rugs, Boucherouite were once made at home on a basic loom and sold in small, family-owned shops. In the '60s and '70s, these Berber rugs became famous as folk art. Art collectors and dealers began to visit the remote villages the Berbers had retreated to. Recently, the rugs have been attracting more attention; the prices have been rising. In this time of economic uncertainty, they are selling fast.
The Boucherouite style has become more fashionable, with Moroccan artisans working in factory settings. However, they were initially made by women in the Atlas Mountains and the desert hinterlands.
They are of two types, which are both trapezoidal. The ruggier of the two typically has a field of white or another light color on which the pattern or "story" is presented. The other is dark and has a pattern printed on top of the field.
Their patterns are hard to describe; the vocabulary available for them includes words for decoration and for complexion (think of the difference between "white" and "green"). Boucherouite rugs are piles of overlapping layers of wool and cotton, hand-dyed.
The overlaps at their corners are tucked into tiny knots that serve as a kind of fabric Velcro. The layers of each rug are called plates, and the decorative element is called a "motif."
What Do the Motifs Look Like?
They are varied and often unlike one another; most have symmetrical designs. Some are stylized, geometric, and functional, like the patterns on the rugs, for example, that serve for prayer in mosques.
Others are floral, floral-like, foliate, foliate-like, or representational since actual flowers are used as the dye. There are human and animal figures, plants and trees, geometric shapes, and spaces for naming. Boucherouite rugs are made for domestic use, and men, women, and children all use them in regular life.
What Makes a Boucherouite Rug a Boucherouite Rug?
The appeal is in their energy and verve, their unusual designs and colors. They are at once relaxed and wild, relaxed but full of surprises and impetuousness, reflecting the country's history and its cultures.
They aren’t also something you can buy at your local carpet store. The patterns are often intricate and asymmetrical, varying from dark to light. However, they are not narrative, like tapestries or Persian carpets, with a beginning and an end. Many motifs repeat themselves, but there is a great deal of variety among them, too.
Choose Boucherouite Rugs Today
Boucherouite rugs are not necessarily sophisticated, complex, or subtle, but unique, rough, bright, and beautiful. Moreover, they give you a taste of the traditional Moroccan rug experience in expressive, fun, and functional designs. They are perfect even for today's modern home designs.
If you want to shop for authentic Boucherouite rugs, Atlas Weavers can provide that for you. We are a premier supplier of Moroccan decorative rugs, with each rug unique and of exceptional quality. Aiming to preserve centuries-old traditions, we use the finest grade natural spring wools, native dyes, and herbal washes. It's our mission to bring the rich Moroccan tradition and culture of the Berber people to Western living spaces.