While we specialize in antique Oriental rugs here at Nazmiyal Collection, we also have one of the very best selections of vintage Moroccan rugs anywhere. Sought after by collectors the world over for their unique and exciting design and unmatched quality, Moroccan rugs occupy a special place in the world of rugs. And the story of their genesis and enduring popularity is one of the great stories in all of art history.
An Introduction to Moroccan Rugs
Within the vast and ancient world of artisanal rug-making, the rugs of Morocco are among the most beautiful and the most storied of all. Boasting a rug-making tradition that is more than a thousand years old, Morocco has made tremendous, invaluable contributions to the art, and vintage Moroccan rugs remain among the most desirable pieces to collectors and experts to this day. Since the very first appearance of simple tools, the people of Morocco have been producing rugs, often out of necessity more so than out of a desire to create decorative pieces: motivated by the uniquely varied topography of Morocco, which features both snow-capped mountains as well as blistering desert, the nomadic and Berber tribes of old created rugs that could be utilized as blankets, saddles, or for personal adornment – among many other uses. As a result, Moroccan rugs are among the most variegated and distinctive pieces anywhere.
A Brief History of Moroccan Rugs
Moroccan rugs produced in the High Atlas region – a mountainous area with snow-capped peaks and high winds – are characterized by thick pile bands, borders, and lattice work that surround flat-woven designs. Interestingly, many of the more common motifs utilized in traditional Moroccan rugs from this region bear a profound resemblance to contemporaneous European cave paintings. Meanwhile, the rugs historically produced in the urban centers of old Morocco, which were important trading centers visited by African, Anatolian and Ottoman merchants, tend to boast a cosmopolitan and international aesthetic. Rugs from cities such as Rabat, Medina, and Sale often feature design elements demonstrably inspired by foreign visitors, with rugs produced in Rabat after the eighteenth century bearing a particular resemblance to Turkish rugs, with an emphasis on floral elements on a sparse field.
If there was one center of rug production in old Morocco that was more important than the rest, that center was Fez. Since at least the thirteenth century, Fez was a veritable mecca in the rug world, housing over 100 dye workers and boasting more than 3,000 embroidery studios. In Fez, traditional tribal Moroccan designs combined with international influence to create an aesthetic distinctively Moroccan: tribal and cosmopolitan, traditional and modern. This development, combined with the rug-makers utilization of the finest natural rug-making ingredients, resulted in a product of unparalleled design and quality. Perhaps it is this unique history and synthesis that have made Moroccan rugs as desirable as any other rugs – and perhaps it is what most appealed to the mid-twentieth century designer Le Corbusier, whose passion of Moroccan rugs created a vibrant international market for the pieces that persists to this very day.
Moroccan Rugs and Modern Design Trends
Indeed, it is difficult to talk about the history of Moroccan rugs without talking about the passion of mid-twentieth century designers for these pieces. Along with Le Corbusier, influential designers such as Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer, and Frank Lloyd Wright all appreciated the aesthetics of Moroccan pieces, which complimented the new, sleek style that these designers were working on popularizing. It is one of the most intriguing stories of historical and cultural serendipity that the aesthetics of the Beni Ourain – a group of seventeen Berber tribes living in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains – would so neatly complement the aesthetics of the modernist designers of twentieth century Europe and America.
Shepherds and goatherds, the Beni Ourain people were the most influential and the most important rug-makers of old Morocco, weaving rugs to help protect them from the harsh elements of the craggy, snowy mountains that were their home. The quality wool of their livestock, along with the traditional Berber penchant for geometric design and a neutral palette of creams, blacks, and browns, combined to result in the manufacture of rugs that would – literally centuries later – beautifully complement the minimalistic, modern aesthetic of twentieth century designers, setting off a long-running and passionate love affair between the Western world and Moroccan rugs.
The story of Moroccan rugs is a beautiful, age-old story of tribal life, international commerce, and enduring influence. The superior craftsmanship and innovational design behind Moroccan rugs has made them one of the most desirable artistic commodities in the world for centuries. At Nazmiyal Collection, we take great pride in our selection of Moroccan rugs – which are all 30% off from now through May 26.
Stand-alone works of art the beauty of which echoes loudly across time and space, Moroccan rugs are genuinely magical and unique cultural artifacts. These pieces have brought joy and comfort into the lives of people all over the world for a very long time, and they have inspired and informed some of the most important trends in design. To own a Moroccan rug is to own a piece of culture and a piece of history, the significance of which is difficult to overstate. The level of sophistication and artistry inherent in these beautiful rugs is something truly special, and is sure to only increase into the future: just as Moroccan rugs have increased in desirability over these past centuries, the only indication is that they will continue to be desirable in the centuries to come.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy other content from the Nazmiyal Blog of Design and style! Check out this post about a mid-century Moroccan rug, this piece that describes some of our favorite Moroccan rugs, and this piece all about vintage rugs!
This blog was published by: Nazmiyal Antique Oriental Rugs