Moroccan Rugs: A Quick Guide to Types from Kilim to Berber Tribal

One of the oldest traditions in Morocco is its weaving of tribal rugs. This art of hand-weaving began as a need for the tribals of this region and only later it assumed decorative proportions. There are 45 different tribes in Morocco, each with its own distinctive style, colors and designs. Over the years, this art has evolved into a style statement today where Moroccan rugs are considered fashionable pieces of home decor.

Moroccan rugs, Photo credit: wildbindi, Flickr

Moroccan rugs, Photo credit: wildbindi, Flickr

Types of Moroccan rugs: Moroccan rugs differ in design and colors and may be very thick with a dense pile, making them apt for use in the winters, or they may be flat-woven and light to suit the hot winds of the Sahara. Typically, Moroccan rugs are geometrical in design and are made with natural dyes like saffron, henna and indigo. Usually, most Moroccan cities have their own distinctive weaving style that distinguishes them from any other. For instance, the capital city Rabat is famous for having rugs in floral and diamond-shaped motifs against a bare background.Moroccan carpet

Essaouira Rugs, Photo credit: Remouille, Flickr

Essaouira Rugs, Photo credit: Remouille, Flickr

These carpets can be classified as Urban Arab, Rural Berber and Zanafi. Urban carpets are heavily influenced by the Middle East in their fine, oriental designs with intricate detailing and came from Rabat, Rural Berber carpets are hand-woven into abstract motifs, designs and symbols that relate to stories of their tribes.Moroccan wedding blanket

Woven Hanbel rugs, Photo by Mohammed Alshubrumi, 2013 AP Peace Fellow. Morocco, Ain Leuh, Flickr

Woven Hanbel rugs, Photo by Mohammed Alshubrumi, 2013 AP Peace Fellow. Morocco, Ain Leuh, Flickr

Rural Berber rugs were woven by the Beni Ourain people from the Rif Mountains. They have colors ranging from neutral colors to bright ones and designs that are sometimes geometrical and at other times free-flowing. Berber carpets, due to their free-flowing designs, are apt in the West and as such have become very popular with North Americans and a symbol of high fashion. In the 20th century, the fashion designer Le Corbusier paired these Berber rugs with sleek furniture and gave them a modern and sophisticated image.

Beni Ourain rugs with a minimalist design are beautifully finished with black stripes, Photo credit: Robert R Gigliotti, Flickr

Beni Ourain rugs with a minimalist design are beautifully finished with black stripes, Photo credit: Robert R Gigliotti, Flickr

Part of the Berber culture of rugs is the famous Moroccan wedding blanket rug or Handira. This is made from cotton, linen and sheep’s wool by the women in the Middle Atlas region. It is worn by a bride after the ceremony as a cape, as she may face the cold in her journey to her new home.

Moroccan wedding blanket, Handira, Photo credit: coco+kelley, Flickr

Moroccan wedding blanket, Handira, Photo credit: coco kelley, Flickr

Rugs or carpets that come from the Middle Atlas region are called Zanafi and are distinguished by their thick woolen pile that helps keep the people warm in winter. They are also distinctive for being long and narrow.Moroccan handira

The High Atlas mountain region produced kilim rugs, known by their intricate lattice work, thick pile bands and ability to use on both sides. They also featured ancient and traditional designs that were passed down the generations.

Moroccan Kilim rugs, Photo credit: Martin and Kathy Dady, Flickr

Moroccan Kilim rugs, Photo credit: Martin and Kathy Dady, Flickr

Moroccan rugs today: These rugs are considered to be high fashion with several internationally renowned interior designers and home decor designers using them to add a touch of understated sophistication to a room. They are popular today as there is a huge variety in their designs, ranging from sober and simple designs to vibrant and colorful. They are highly adaptable to all kinds of homes, and all it needs is a touch of your imagination to help raise an otherwise drab-looking room into one of sophistication and glamour. Let your Moroccan rug help you achieve that.

Cozy den with a moroccan Beni Ourain rug, Photo by Robert R Gigliotti, Flickr

Cozy den with a moroccan Beni Ourain rug, Photo by Robert R Gigliotti, Flickr

Picture taken in a modern model home in Chicago with a moroccan rug, by Robert R Gigliotti

Picture taken in a modern model home in Chicago with a moroccan rug, by
Robert R Gigliotti


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