Beni Ourain Rugs
The beauty of the Beni Ourain rugs / Berber Tribe carpets
Beni Ourain rugs - The Beni Ourain "tribe" in Morocco is made up of 17 different Berber tribes that live in the Atlas mountains. Some have come to the lowlands to farm, but many still raise sheep at the higher up elevations. The sheep produce excellent high grade wool which goes into the beautiful rugs made by the Beni Ourain tribes.
Certain tribes have preferred colors, and natural dyes were used exclusively until the mid to late 20thcentury. Natural dyes included henna, almond leaves, indigo, iron sulfate, cochineal among others. The true vintage and mid century Beni Ourain rugs are so sophisticated and simplistic, which makes them sought after by the top interior designers and consumers from all over the world.
Women weave the rugs and put something from their personal experience into the designs. Usually, design references were to natural events and aspects of life, like birth, fertility, nature, femininity, rural life, beliefs and/or spirituality. But some of the people who wove these Moroccan rugs, believed that the rugs could even ward off evil spirits.
The traditional style and patterns of the Beni Ourain rugs consists of mostly geometric black or brown lines that create abstract and diamond shapes on a cream or whitish background and most will not have a border. Some have fringe and some do not and some might have fringe on one end only. The rugs are handwoven and can last a lifetime if not more. .
Originally, these Moroccan rugs were used as bedspreads and not decorative floor coverings. They had a "loose structure" to conform to the shape of the body and ward off the cold.
Knots are tied in a very specific way and the pile is deep or shallow according to the purpose of the rug. Other designs include talisman symbols, characters from the Ancient Berber alphabet and geometric patterns reminiscent of the old Native American, Navajo designs.
The vintage Beni Ourain rugs are mostly neutral in coloration and abstract in design. This is why they can be easily incorporated in today's modern decors. Their versatile modernist look, combined with their considerably low price points, makes them an easy choice for people from all walks of life.
The vintage Beni Ourain rugs were not mass produced. No two rugs are alike and all were made to withstand the test of time. There are many websites and dealers who sell these carpets. Some of the carpets are old, some new and some in the middle but these factors are important as far as value is concerned. Many are mid-twentieth century but these vintage ones will be more difficult to find and will cost a bit more than the new ones that are made today (some might not even be produced in Morocco). But it does not take an expert to be able to differentiate between the real McCoy and the more commercial or even new counterparts. The older ones have a softer and more supple texture, far more interesting patterns and they were never produced wider than about 7'. If you come across a Beni Ourain rug that is 12 feet by 18 feet (just an example) then chances are overwhelming that you are looking at a newly produced carpet.
Morocco's magnificent Beni Ourain carpets have a common thread that links Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer and Arne Jacobsen. Shag carpets were the ultimate interior accessory in the mid-20th century, but the sumptuous Beni Ourain rugs from Morocco are even more luxurious and tasteful. Due to their widespread use by the greatest designers of the 20th century, Morocco's Beni Ourain carpets have become definitive representations of an era when the classically modern style was born. These exceptional pieces have rich textures, chic colors and cryptic surface decorations. This combination of traits makes vintage Moroccan rugs the ultimate accessory for highlighting the sleek lines of minimalist decor and proving that less really is more.
It is one of those wonderful and happy accidents of history that the aesthetic values of a group of semi-nomadic tribal people in Morocco would be so admired by mid-twentieth century interior designers in North America and Europe. Indeed, the wonderful series of coincidences that made for such a fascinating development -- the fact that the Beni Ourain were shepherds and goatherds with access to fine wool, their location in the Atlas mountains, their traditional way of life, and the rapid changes in design that occurred in the post-war period in the Western World -- is really one of those things that is stranger than fiction, but very true.
Moroccan rugs in general are beautiful works of folk art. Made by untrained individuals, in secluded locations, these rugs offer us a glimpse into the psyche of the artisan who created them. There is no doubt that they were far more advanced than most people think and it is this anomaly that fascinates art historians and consumers alike.
In the end, the demand for quality Moroccan rugs is higher than it has ever been. Because of the myriad of interesting cultural factors that have given them their unique and fantastic style, Moroccan rugs are admired and sought after all over the world, both by experts and by laypeople intrigued by their timeless and distinctive beauty.
Beni Ourain And Berber Rugs
Morocco has a long history of weaving some of the most beautiful rugs in the world. The ancient weaving started before the 7th Century with the Berber tribe, people of North Africa who settled in Morocco during this period. For thousands of years, the women of the tribe have woven exquisite handknotted wool rugs inspired by tribal ceremony and symbolism. The Berber tribe still exists today, living in the Atlas mountain regions of Morocco, where the ancient weaving techniques are preserved and passed down from mother to daughter.
The Berber tribe is still responsible for producing the majority of handmade Moroccan rugs in our marketplace. Moroccan rugs are unique in their designs, patterns and colors since each rug is woven without any diagram or pattern to follow. The weaver interprets important designs and patterns that are relevant to daily tribal life and reproduces these motifs in the rug.
Rugs often tell a story of tribal ancestors or the weaver’s life combined with tribal superstitions that are a strong part of these remote rural regions. Characterized by geometric patterns that are often asymmetrical and rich vibrant colors reminiscent of church stained glass windows, Moroccan rugs work well to accent contemporary interiors and architecture. Bold colors like reds, oranges, yellows, blues, greens and purples are mixed with naturals, browns and blacks representing colors found in nature, plants and wildlife indigenous to the region of the tribe. The dyes that produce these vivid colors are made from plants and berries like henna, madder root, pomegranate, figs and tea leaves found abundantly in the mountains. The natural and black wools used comes directly from sheep and goats in the area, like the black-haired goats that roam and climb the Atlas mountain areas. Each weaver determines the design, pattern and color as the rug progresses, so no two rugs are ever alike and each rug can take years to weave. A Moroccan rug is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, a work of art, that will provide beauty for a lifetime. With proper care, colors will not fade and wool will not wear out, leaving a rug that can be passed down for generations.