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Moroccan Rug Culture

The Berbers are indigenous to North Africa. Morocco has always been and remains home to one the largest populations. Berber rugs are of several tribal and regional varieties, namely the Beni Ouaraine, Zayan, Zemmour, Tazenakht and Boujaad. With the exception of the Beni Ouaraine, they are characterized by their weave and design.

The weaves include the Hanbel, Akhnif, Bouchrouit, knot and loop. Learn more about “The Knot Weave”. Note that the Beni Ouaraine rug is not a weave, but a style with motifs that vary according to the many Beni Ouaraine tribes that are scattered northeast of Fez. Authentic Beni Ouaraines are made from especially fine sheep wool from the Atlas Mountains. Beni Ouaraines were popularized by the West in the 1960s as they incorporate seamlessly into mid-century modern décor.

Berber women are the guardians of their heritage. Symbolic language is inherited from previous generations and the motifs represent the weaver’s daily life, tribe, and region. Traditional motifs are important, but women are free to alter them or design their own. Their craft is an emancipation of sorts. 

Three regularly used motifs are the triangle, lozenge, and damier. The triangle is the most important and represents a home’s foyer and the home itself. It is the image of faith, the soul, and the lifeblood (See Mary on left). The lozenge motif holds a special place in Berber weaving and represents fertility (See Irene in center). The damier resembles a honeycomb as well as the uterus, making it the motif of life (See Henrietta on right). 

Weavers make use of their own rugs and also sell them for income. They sell at local and regional markets, craft centers, cooperatives, and national and international craft fairs.

The craft centers are funded and managed by the Moroccan government, which has made efforts to provide artisans with channels to commercialize their products. The craft centers are dispersed throughout the country and only sell handicrafts specific to their region.

Additionally, the Moroccan government has built ateliers for regional weaving cooperatives. They are operated by the weavers and free of government management. The women weave both independently and together. Rugs are also sold at the cooperatives.

Lastly, some weavers submit requests to participate in national and international craft fairs. If selected, they have a unique opportunity to sell alongside other top artisans. 

Not only does weaving require great technical skill and artistic ability, but it is the centerpiece of the female community. It is a time to socialize, collaborate, and be free of other responsibilities.

Every single rug we sell is woven by hand, of the highest quality, and individually selected by the Oum Team. Each is 100% ethically sourced with the utmost respect for its weaver.

We hope an Oum rug finds its way into your home and heart.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any help in choosing your Oum rug.


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