Few home accessories make a bolder statement than authentic Berber rugs. Each one tells a unique story. Weavers knot centuries of tradition and years of expertise into their work.
The Moroccan Middle Atlas‘ remoteness can prove isolating. In this environment, Berber women enjoy few opportunities for self-expression. But artisanal handicrafts, such as rugs, invite communicative artistry.
In each rug, you’ll find a window into its creator’s personality and experiences. Outgoing women make rugs that vary from those of shyer craftswomen. But both finished products represent vibrant slices of Moroccan culture.
Rugs are the canvases upon which Berber women paint life experiences and cultural beliefs. Keep reading to learn about the symbolism found in these incredible works of art.
Symbolism in Berber Rugs
Grandmothers and mothers pass specific motifs down through the generations. Vintage Moroccan rugs bear witness to these cultural exchanges.
Despite universal significance, the symbols used by Berber women also prove personal. For this reason, interpreting the meanings written into rugs requires great cultural sensitivity.
How can you gain a full picture of what each rug means? It requires understanding of the cultures, legends, and songs of the various tribes.
You should also recognize that many of the symbols employed in rugs are found in Berber tattooing traditions. The act of tattooing certain symbols marks womanhood and cultural identity. For example, symbols may denote fertility, marriage, or a tribe.
Today, tattooing among indigenous women is a disappearing tradition. But the facial and body tattoos of the Amazigh (another name for Berbers) continue to connect generations of women. Each tattoo mistress has a unique take on the designs native to a given region.
Like tattoos, rugs have both regional and personal cultural significance. With this in mind, let’s explore some of these designs in greater detail.
Color Symbolism in Moroccan Rugs
Ultimately, handmade Moroccan rugs are a form of storytelling. Teasing out the personal stories conveyed through these rugs would require interviewing individual craftswomen. But we can provide insight into some of the more universal designs.
Fundamentally, each rug has dual purposes. They include sheltering the body from the elements and shielding the human spirit. Besides the symbols, examining the colors chosen for each rug can glean additional meaning.
For example, yellow symbolizes eternity, and green exudes peace. Red is a sign of protection and strength, and blue means wisdom. The symbols in each carpet add more layers of meaning to these color elements.
Universal Patterns in Rugs from Morocco
A light-and-dark checkered pattern denotes fertility. It’s referred to as a barley pattern.
There’s also the bird pattern. This motif features a cross of intersecting rectangles.
This avian symbology carries baraka. Baraka represents divine power. It’s said to bring auspicious tidings, heal sickness, and guard against misfortune.
What if you see a rug featuring concentric diamonds? It evokes protection against the evil eye.
With this design, look for a cross design centered between arrows at the edge of the rug. This added touch ensures evil gets scattered in four directions.
A rug with motifs resembling tic-tac-toe boards and hashtags is known as the finger pattern. It provides the owner of the rug with protection.
There are also so-called snake and fish skeletons. These look like vertical lines intersecting a column of chevrons.
Pattern variations include a series of diamonds or triangles. These motifs reference the magical or medicinal skills embodied in a holy person.
You may also see an x-shaped symbol. This design signifies metalworkers. It also shows respect to metal, thereby warding off Djorn.
Beni Ourain Rugs
What else do you need to know before you start looking for Moroccan rugs for sale? You should consider the materials and methods used to create each rug. Examples include Beni Ourain rugs.
Made from 100 percent undyed sheep wool, these are some of the most luxurious rugs you’ll ever find. Think of them as heirloom pieces to be passed down through your family for generations.
The epitome of sophistication, they feature signature styles with geometric designs like those described above. Best of all, these rugs fit in with a wide variety of decorating styles. From a global vibe to a primitive feel and even mid-century fashioning, there’s a carpet for your home.
Learn more about America’s richest source of genuine Moroccan rugs.
Moroccan Azilal Rugs
You should also consider the distinctive characteristics of Moroccan Azilal rugs. Azilal rugs are a type of Berber rug originating in the Azilal province.
Nearly unknown to the Western world until the latter part of the 20th century, these carpets perfectly embody the vibrant culture of the Amizagh. What makes rugs from this region so unique? Weavers’ cultural traditions in this region prove slightly different from those of Beni Ourain rug makers.
This fact translates into hand-knotted carpets showcasing bold-colored cotton, all-natural cream or white, and undyed wool hues.
Find Authentic Berber Rugs
Today, Berber rugs have skyrocketed in popularity and with good reason. These beautiful expressions of a cherished culture add cultural vibrancy to any home or interior decorating theme.
Unfortunately, the popularity of Moroccan rugs has given rise to many counterfeit options. These are copied or mass-produced. In the process, pieces lose their value, pleasing esthetics, inherent quality, and cultural relevance.
When it comes to decorating your home, office, or other space, don’t fall for duplicate rugs. You’ll get disappointed every time. What’s more, these poor copies won’t stand the test of time, becoming treasured family heirlooms.
Instead, choose genuine Moroccan rugs that bear a piece of their maker’s culture, story, and heart. Shop our wide selection of authentic Berber rugs now.