27 Nov Carpet shopping in Marrakech
It may be one of the most sought-after souvenirs from a trip to Morocco. With former riads turned carpet shops and an entire souk dedicated to carpets, never mind the various styles from the many regions of Morocco, selecting the perfect piece can be overwhelming.
To help you with your decision-making, we invite you to sit back with an (imaginary) mint tea, Moroccan carpet shop style, while we share our favourite styles and purchasing tips.
A popular design trend, the boucherouite has made appearances on leading interior blogs and Instagram accounts the world over in recent years. Recycling at its finest, boucherouite rugs are made from old clothing and bits of leftover textiles; hence it is often referred to as the rag rug.
Traditionally these rugs were found only in the home or functioned as a saddle basket cover on a donkey or camel back. But in recent years, given the design community’s increased interest, they’ve made their way in to the carpet souks. The abstract designs often feature geometric shapes – diamonds, zigzags -, or just a mash up of various textile bits.
To see some of the finest boucherouite carpets and learn more about the history of the carpets, head over to the Musee Boucherouite in the Marrakech medina.
Taking its name from the tribe of the same name that traditionally produced the thick wool carpets in the Atlas Mountains; the Beni Ourain carpet is identifiable by its black or brown triangular shapes on a natural background. Woven on a loom by women, the shapes may appear decorative, but in fact the carpets are steeped in symbols, often revealing personal stories of birth, loss, fertility and daily life as well as those believe to provide protection.
Typically woven using natural dyes including henna and indigo, the rugs were traditionally produced for use as bedspreads and covers. Frank Lloyd Wright, Alvar Aalto, and Le Corbusier began incorporating the carpets into their modern designs in the 1930s, increasing the rise in popularity which remains today amongst designers looking to add texture and warmth to a room without the riotous colours other Moroccan rug styles are known for.
Given the demand for this style, new versions are often readily available in the souks. To know if your carpet is a truly vintage piece, look for areas of low pile where the textile would have experienced some wear, any areas that may have been repaired with time, special touches that are personal to the woman weaving the piece, and any inevitable stains or marks.
Hailing from the Azilal region of the High Atlas Mountains, the carpets produced here are each one of a kind, abstract works of art. Often compared to Ourika carpets, produced in the nearby valley tucked in the Atlas Mountains, both carpets feature colourful symbols that tell a story, as each symbol represents an expression of emotions – childbirth, motherhood, family ancestry, natural surroundings. As for the history, little is known. But the increased interest in these colourful, warm carpets has lead to an explosion of roadside stalls through the Atlas Mountains selling the new flat-weave rugs produced in nearby villages.
For the best selection, we recommend sitting back with a mint tea while the staff at nearby Mustapha Blaoui pull out rug after rug in the hopes that one may be of interest (we rarely leave with only one).
For more contemporary and unique designs, visit Soufaine Zarib’s showroom next to Café des Epices or at 16 Rue Riad Larrouss near 72 Riad Living. He’s also opening a showroom across from the new musee Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech.