May 6, 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Moroccan Style Rugs - From the Experts

Like any interest, the world of rugs may be a little too intimidating and vast for a novice. Granted, rug connoisseurs started somewhere themselves but it’s quite agreeable that there should be guides⁠—especially for styles.

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Buyers Insight

You've probably heard or seen fine Moroccan rugs used to give an impressive appeal for homes, resorts, hotels, restaurants, and office spaces. But, do you have any idea why they are so desirable, their origin, and how they are made?

The world of rugs can feel a bit intimidating and comprehensive for a beginner. Rug enthusiasts started specializing in this industry somewhere sometimes back. Therefore, there must be practical guides, especially when it comes to luxury styles.

Regardless of the category of rug style you choose, what its purpose serves (transitional rug, area rug, outdoor rug, as a coverlet), where it goes (kitchen, dining room, entryway, living room), a significant amount of information still needs to be clearly understood before dealing with the style. 

What is Moroccan Style Rug? 

In essence, a Moroccan style rug refers to textile floor coverings woven by Morocco’s indigenous traditional people. The rug's prominent role in Morocco is to allow utmost utility, tons of people worldwide like collecting and using this rug style for pure decoration.

Its primary material make-up constitutes wool. So, you'll find it super soft, comfy, and comes with high piles. The unique orderly patterns with relaxing colors are what makes it different from the Moroccan hand-knotted wool rugs.

History of Moroccan Rugs 

Moroccan rugs are a one-of-a-kind option that can give your space the highest degree of luxury and culture. They were first woven in Morocco by the Berber women in Northern Africa and Sahara back in 622AD. These rugs were greatly valued and primarily used in palaces and sacred places.

The daughters and granddaughters of Berber women watched and learned the art of weaving the Moroccan rugs since childhood. For that reason, they crafted these tribal rugs for specifically domestic uses such as bedding and flooring. In fact, the designs of the rugs have been handed down by generations of weavers.

After some time, the Eastern tribes like Beni Ourain started to make these Beni rugs professionally and used them as gifts or awards for high-class families. These nomadic crafters obtained wool from the Atlas mountain sheep and wove it to form yarn. The camel’s hair also served as a perfect option for the sheep wool.

These artists could sometimes dye the wool or leave them in their original undyed plain color. And for sure, this neutral Moroccan rug looked very beautiful during those days.

Interestingly, the crafters had a superstitious belief that the rug's elegance could attract evil spirits. In order to keep the rugs safe from the evil spirits, the architects burnt the edges of the Moroccan rugs. 

To date, the accessibility of these highly desired rugs is at an all-time high. Here are some characteristics that we look for when making a selection.

Characteristics of Moroccan Rugs

From Moroccan rugs comes the great inspiration for the history and culture of the traditional people. Typically, the rugs are differentiable using their colors and patterns. This makes it easier for you to know which tribes made which rugs.

Moreover, every tribe boasted a distinct culture that their usage would portray. Let's look at some of the common characteristics to note.

Thickness

With Morocco's distinct climate, thicker rugs were made for colder places at high elevations like the mountains. Besides, thinner and flat-weave cloaks were used in hotter places found at low elevations like the Sahara desert.

For instance, the Beni Ourain tribe used sheep wool to weave a thicker Moroccan rug. This distinct rug was made to keep them warm while in the chilly climate of the Atlas Mountains. Lighter and thinner Moroccan rugs are made to help cope up with the Sahara Desert’s hot climate.

Size

The movement of Moroccan tribes from one place to another largely influenced the sizes of woven rugs. Rug sizes usually ranged from 5-7 feet in width and from 3-10 meters in length to ensure ease and comfort of traveling, but they can usually be customized if you have a small space for example that you need to fit a particular piece into. 

Colors and patterns

Moroccan-style rugs are incredibly unique – no two rugs are looking alike. They are hand-woven by expert women of the tribe who use their hands to incorporate symbolic languages and personal experiences in the rugs. The ultimate aim is to narrate the maker's stories.

Additionally, the tribe forms a vital detail of these rugs. And these tribes deliver various types of Moroccan-style rugs. 

Common Moroccan Rug Designs 

Antique Moroccan rugs are one of the commonest and most captivating art pieces across the world. Their thickness, weaving styles, and design patterns mainly intend to give essential varieties in the world of rugs. Some of the most famous types of vintage Moroccan rugs include:

Beni Ourain 

These rugs are made from pure wool in the middle Atlas Mountains with 17 different Berber tribes known as the Beni Ourain. Usually, these rugs have simple and orderly patterns yet elegant. 

A genuine old-fashioned Beni Ourain rug should have a cream color, not snow white. The rug contains hints of henna-black or brown hues and many symbols associated with the tribe. More importantly, you'll find this type of rug soft and fluffy to feel.

Azilal

These rugs originate from the high Atlas Mountains and boast bold and bright colors with irregular patterns. They are tangled, thinly peeled rugs created from the natural wool fiber. What's more, the rugs maintain a natural wool color. However, you can make colorful abstract designs from either dyed wool fibers.

Moreover, these rugs are true inspirations from the lives of women living in the Azilal region. The most common themes for this rug include marriage, maternity, birth, and farming. Even though they use a different weaving technique, these rugs are still elegant, soft, and very comfortable.

Boucherouite

The Boucherouite is the most unique and impressive type of Moroccan rug available. That's because of the materials used to make them. Since wool was declining and hard to obtain, other scraps of fabric materials like cotton, nylon, and lurex were used.

Their main aim was to provide excellent warmth in cold places that lack wool or where the people couldn't afford it.  Additionally, this rug’s style doesn’t have a specific pattern meaning that they can be symmetrical or geometric. Still, they are exceptionally soft and feel cozy while giving a vibrant color.

Boujad

Boujad rugs from the Central Plains areas are identical with their deep red, purple, pink, and orange tints. The Berber tribes practice typical knotting by using a tighter knot that requires less wool.

The wide array of geometric patterns with colors crafted from natural dyes of leaves, flowers, berries, and henna. Therefore, these rugs are very colorful and trendy that will impress every eye.

Beni Mguild

These rugs are made using fluffy, thicker weave, making them an excellent choice for use during colder periods in the western parts of the Atlas Mountains. Besides that, these rugs are knotted on a vertical loom with deep tints of brown, red, purple, and blue.

Depending on the season, these rugs are often flipped to use the fluffy side for colder seasons and the flat surface during warmer periods. With this versatility, the Beni Mguild rug is quite a blessing for you.

What materials are Moroccan rugs made from?

Typically, the ancient Moroccan rugs were made from pure sheep wool in different piles and thickness depending on the region. The rugs made from thicker piles of wool were made for the colder and snowy Atlas Mountains. On the other side, lighter flatweave rugs are made to suit the Sahara desert’s hot climate.

Nowadays, most kinds of Moroccan rugs are produced in large quantities using various materials like nylon, cotton, and olefin together with wool.

Why are Moroccan rugs popular?

With varying intricacies like tassels, minimalist appeal, multicolor, it is the dynamic color, art designs, and bold geometric patterns are the most features that make these rugs so popular. They have been passed down for many generations now and continue to be the hottest trends in decoration for many interior designers.

Furthermore, many collectors like them for their incredible striking beauty, ease, and distinct primitivism give a childish-like appeal. More importantly, they blend with any room décor in an elite curated style. You'll also find them pretty soft and cozy materials that give a comfortable feel on your skin.

Perfectly blending a Moroccan rug into your space is a true artform. A particular designer will ensure that in a certain room that their rug matches fine details like the placemats, tablecloths, table linens, shower curtains (if in a bathroom), poufs, outdoor furniture, dining furniture, duvet, chandeliers, wall art, and everything in between. 

How to clean a Moroccan rug

Like any other fabric material, keeping a Moroccan rug is pretty essential. When it comes to cleaning your hand-woven traditional rugs, the process is very effortless, and you can do it in just a few easy steps. 

Step 1: Find a cleaner place where you’ll wash the rug. 

Step 2: For better cleaning results, hang the rug on a close line and vacuum it to remove any dirt or dust particles.

Step 3: After that, lay the rug on a clean surface and pour water on it. Sprinkle a laundry or mild detergent soap on the Moroccan rug and wash it gently using your hands to create foam on the surface. This will make cleaning easier and ensure that your rug stays in good shape for long.

Step 4: With clean water, rinse the rug thoroughly.

Step 5: Hang the Moroccan rug on a line outside your house and let it dry in the sun to retain freshness. Make sure you don't dry it in a dryer machine as it may cause wrinkles or damage to the rug.

Tips for keeping your Moroccan rug clean 

•    Regular vacuuming of the rug to keep it shiny and dust-free

•    Dusting a little baking soda to remove any odors

•    Spray a tiny amount of vinegar on the rug to prevent damage from your feline friends

How are Moroccan rugs made? 

In Morocco, the hand-spun rug makers are named after their tribes. A loop pile construction is what the current mass-producing Berbers use to make these rugs. The outcome of the hand-knotting process provides something similar in appearance to the traditional way of tying and weaving rugs.

The process starts by acquiring the wool from the sheep from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Then the wool from the sheep gets cleaned and scoured as it may contain natural oils.

After that, the wool is spun using the hands. This process transforms the wool, twisting the fibers together to form yarn. The wool is then spun to form fibers that are excellent for weaving.

The next part involves knotting the rug. Here, you’ll get to see the talented and experts weave and knot the fibers to make incredible rugs. And before finishing the knotting, natural dyes are used to color the pattern formed.

Are you wondering how long does it take to make the Moroccan rugs? Well, the making process involves different tasks until the final product comes out. It takes multiple busy weavers many days, specifically 2 to 3 weeks, to thread the wool and tie every pile of knots. In the end, the outcome is a beautiful piece of art.

How to tell a Moroccan rug is authentic

Moroccan rugs can be extremely high-end and one of the most expensive pieces of art for home decorations and fashion. So, it is essential to know tell-tell signs that the rug design you’re about to buy is authentic to avoid any future disappointments. Learn how to authenticate a Moroccan rug using the following tricks:

•    The rug should be made from 100% sheep wool or cotton threads; say no to any rug made from synthetic materials.

•    Check for softness; make sure it is incredibly soft to touch

•    Good quality wool must have a sheen

•    Understand the city or tribe that make the Moroccan rug

•    Look for uniquely handmade rugs, not machine made

•    Try to burn the rug’s string. If it ignites, it’s fake. Please don't buy it!

•    What about the price? Authentic Moroccan Berber rugs are often expensive for a small size. Therefore, be wary of cheaper rugs and do your own due diligence.

Moroccan Rug Price Range 

Many people tend to ask this, what is the price range for an authentic Moroccan rug? Well, the answer may not that easy as you may think. Similar to their Persian and Turkish counterparts, the reason is that there are plenty of variables that generally influences the price. Some of these variables include style, design, the material used, age, and place of making.

We here at Lawrence of La Brea have a wide selection of Moroccan rugs available, which may give you a better idea of the price range for the highest quality rugs on the market.

Final Words 

Whether you are looking to give your property a minimalistic look, create that new-aged boho look, or take on a thrilling new interior design project, getting a premier quality Moroccan rug is the best way to go. You'll find them handcrafted and super elegant and comfy to suit any expensive modern homes.

Boasting impressive historical and culture art, these are one of a kind piece of art that does a lot than just acting as unique counter pieces for your home. Their pattern, designs, and colors are incredible. To this end, we believe that the above guide will help you find solutions to your concerns about Moroccan style rugs.

David Nourafshan

Passionate reader | People person | The one behind Lawrence of La Brea
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