After the bright red colours of the Zemmour and Zaiane that we featured in our first article, (see it here) we turn our attention to a distinctly different style - that of the Beni Ouarain. This Berber tribe uses "live wool" - that is wool shorn from a sheep, rather than taken from a sheepskin after the sheep has been killed. The main characteristic of a Beni Ouarain carpet is the "shaggy" pile. This makes them very comfortable under foot and they are much sought after for use in winter.
A particularly fine example of a Beni Ouarain, with a close up of the "shaggy" pile below.
The Beni Ouarain are an important Berber tribe and come from the Middle Atlas region. You can check the tribal areas on the map (see it here).
Our second carpet today is a 100% pure wool example of a Marmoucha. This tribe is from the region close to the Sahara in the northern part of Morocco and is near the frontier with Algeria. Again this is a carpet with a high shaggy pile. (see the detail photograph below)
Where does the wool come from? The wool – mostly live wool from sheep – cut while the sheep is alive. The cotton for embroidery comes from Morocco, Australia, New Zealand, Spain. Today most carpet wool comes from New Zealand, which makes the best colours. The Moroccan wool is 100% like silk, but the colours are a little dirty in comparison.
And the colours? Poppy flower for the red. Saffron for orange, yellow. White – natural fibre (although some sheep have white wool, some have black).Blue – indigo: one of the poppy flowers. Morocco has one of the few natural indigo dyes in the world.
“Moroccan rugs have rich colours – rich with the red colour and the saffron especially."
Some of the modern carpets use synthetic dyes but these here are only Berber traditional carpets, with natural dyes.
The View from Fez would like to thank the Bouzidi-Idrissi family who generously gave of their time and expertise in compiling this series of articles. All the featured rugs are available (or similar styles)and can be freighted anywhere in the world! You will find the shops on the Talaa Kebira in Fez - (phone 0535636946 email firstname.lastname@example.org