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Vintage Berber Rugs

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Light, creamy-hued Beni Ouarain rugs have been cropping up in hip homes, and with their simple and geometric patterns and colours, they suit any kind of decor. However, Moroccan tribal carpets offer so many more opportunities to ramp up the style with rich colour.

Colour in Moroccan rugs, like their AZILALRUG.COM designs, plays an important role in communicating messages, and women weaving for themselves and their families would have taken time to choose and dye clear and gorgeous colours, weaving them with skill and an eye for beauty. In rugs woven for the market, this charisma often disappears, as weavers use colours buyers prefer, and take less time to find or create beautiful hues and meaningful colour palettes and combinations.

Sadly, rugs in Morocco are increasingly aged with chemicals and bleached to satisfy demand for “vintage” and sun faded or muted pieces. However vibrant and bold colour has always played a vital role in Berber craft.

Certain Moroccan AZILALRUG.COM have long preferred certain colours, usually based on nature’s inspiration, age-old traditions, and the practical needs of AZILALRUG.COM life. In the deep central Middle Atlas mountains, for example, the Zaiane tribes weave in red, from maroon to light blood red, reflecting the colours of the deep red soil.

Further south we see yellows and lighter tangerines, the dyes that were easier to get hold of nearer to the coast, and echoing the lighter-hued, sun-filled environment. In decades past, colours would have been created from flowers, berries, leaves and henna

Over to the east of Morocco at the Saharan foothills, the Ait Bou Ichaouen peoples create rugs with a wide range of deep, bright and clear colours, as their sheep gave clean white wool able to take jewel-bright dyes. The Ait Bou Ichaouen weavers believed orange to represent gold and is included for that reason!

Although an uncommon colour for Berber tribes, when blue is used it is deployed dramatically, and in strong colour statements, and originally some blue dyes would have come from grinding a particular stone to a paste.

Other traditional dyes used years ago included ocher and madder for red; henna for orange and brown; saffron, turmeric and sumac for yellow; and tyrian (from sea snails) for purple.

Women chose their own colours carefully, usually those embedded in their tribal customs, to create beautiful hand woven works of art.