You’ve no doubt noticed an increased amount of interest in Moroccan rugs, particularly those with elements of the traditional Berber style. Indeed, big-box stores now proffer nylon approximations of them, with rough versions of the motifs that have made the North African craftworks so popular. Whatever little you pay for one, it’s still too much.
There’s an art to making true Moroccan rugs, one that demands certain wool from certain sheep in the Atlas mountains, a certain number of washes in certain streams to get the right color, a certain number of hours drying in the sun. Knots should be done by hand by trained Berbers using wooden dowels, and colors should be delivered through natural, local dyes. Yes, it’s all very exacting and, as you might guess, exclusive and difficult to access—heritage comes with certain standards.
But with e-commerce transforming so much of the sourcing, that window of access has expanded, particularly through the new online upstart Beni Rugs. Working with Berber collectives in the Atlases, Beni delivers pieces made of wool that has been, yes, sheared from the right sheep and dyed, woven, washed, and dried in all the right ways—true pieces of craft.
Intriguingly, Beni is forwarding a bit more than this respect for craft: off-the-rack offerings, customization and more modern styles can be found here. While the product is as traditional as what you might find deep in a souk, this ability to have Berber artisans craft their work to your desired style and size from half a world away is absolutely a welcome development in an art form older than Morocco itself.
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(Photos Courtesy of Beni Rugs)