Originally from North Africa, the Berber carpet has become a trendy decorative object that gives a touch of originality to any interior. From its origins to its incursion into our daily lives in the 21st century, a look back at a success story full of sweetness that began several millennia ago...
The origins of the Berber carpet remain unclear, even if we know that its patterns are inspired by those painted on rocks of the Neolithic era. On the other hand, we can date the beginnings of their confection. It would go back to more than 10 000 years, in Morocco, when the shepherds of the north-east of the Atlas massif, and more particularly the Beni Ouaraintribe, recovered the wool of an ancient breed of sheep - different from those we know today - they were less big and more vigorous.
Thanks to the large quantity of wool produced, the Moroccan Berbers had decided to use it to replace their traditional skin clothes. Known to be very insulating and, therefore, to keep warm, this material was also used to make clothes and to manufacture all sorts of everyday objects, such as the famous carpets, which were then used to cover the floor of Berber tents in Morocco. Of great use, especially with the coolness of the Moroccan nights, they made it possible to better preserve the heat within these dwellings. The Beni Ouarain tribe even used them to sleep, lying on them as if on a mattress, or even rolling up in them, as if in a big cosy blanket.
At the time, the manufacture of these Berber carpets was not simple. Designed by women, they are the result of an ancestral expertise was transmitted from mother to daughter. At first, it was necessary to choose the wool well, by shearing the sheep which produced the most beautiful variety. The wool was then washed in the rivers, to get rid of all its residues, in order to facilitate its use.
Then, they colored it with natural pigments from the plants, before proceeding to the weaving. The texture of the wool was transformed thanks to the process of spinning, which made it possible to obtain threads made entirely of wool. Then came the actual weaving, thanks to a loom, handed down from generation to generation. Made entirely by hand and dried in the sun, each carpet is unique, charged with all the symbolism that the weaver wanted to give it.
Originally designed by Moroccan weavers, with an art transmitted from mother to daughter, the Berber carpet had a crucial place in the lives of women. It is not for nothing if they were even integrated into the dowry during weddings. Indeed, to have such an object at home was then synonymous with prosperity.
Moreover, the different patterns drawn on these Berber carpets are often full of meaning. Originally, these signs and symbols reflected the imagination of the time, evoking all sorts of rites and beliefs - some can be seen as real lucky charms, in particular. These motifs could symbolize strong themes, such as birth, religion, or nature.
To each tribe its carpet! Depending on the region where it was designed, the Berber carpet will have different characteristics. Its patterns, colors and the weaving method used (with threads more or less tightly woven) will allow us to know where it was made. More commonly, there are two main types of wool carpets: the "Beni Ouarains" (the term means "king carpet" in Moroccan), very thick carpets, made of white wool, dyed with black geometric shapes (diamonds, triangles, straight lines), and the "Azilal", thinner models, with a thinner wool and much more colorful patterns.
In all cases, an expert eye in Berber carpets can easily discern the real from the fake. Each carpet being unique and above all, entirely handmade, it must present imperfections, which are the guarantee of its authenticity.
Thanks to their wool which can reach up to 3 centimeters thick and their extreme density, Berber carpets are real handcrafted jewels. Made to measure, they are all unique models, messengers of a history and an ancestral Moroccan know-how. A rigorous craftsmanship that makes these products exceptional, with a great softness thanks to their natural fiber, and a great resistance. Investing in a Berber carpet is to ensure a decorative object of great utility and that you will keep for many years.
Forming a bridge between the past and the present, the Berber carpet is the bearer of a history, a know-how and an ancestral symbolism. As a messenger of the Atlas, this object rich in meaning has made a place of choice in our contemporary interiors. For many years, more and more individuals have been investing in this exceptional product, for its great beauty, its softness and its incomparable and inimitable style, which gives character to any type of interior - bohemian, contemporary, kinfolk, ethnic, design or even Scandinavian! Berber rugs have the advantage of giving a cozy air to your cozy nest. But for it to blend in perfectly with the decor, you still need to know which model to choose...
Some Berber carpets have their own special features. Some are machine washable, while others are reversible. Aesthetically, some models have bangs while others do not; some are thicker, while others have short hair - a parameter to consider when buying, if you have pets!
Kilim" rugs, another trendy style
Other trendy models, the "Kilim" rugs, originating from Turkey or Iran, are not part of the Berber carpet family, although they look like them. More colorful, lighter, with their more ethnic style, resembling patchwork, they are made from recycled textiles (wool, cotton or goat hair).
First of all, choose the room in which you will place your Berber carpet. This decorative object will be more highlighted in a living room, a dining room, a bedroom or a playroom. On the other hand, because of its great thickness and the length of its wool, often dense, avoid placing it in a kitchen or a room with a lot of traffic, at the risk of having to clean it very often. As for kilim rugs, they are made of recycled materials and are easier to maintain. So invest in one if you intend to install it in your hallway or in a child's room, for example.
The second criterion is its size and shape. Once you've decided on a location, take measurements to see what size rug will work best for the space. For the living room, choose a very large model, depending on the length of your sofa and the surface you want to cover.
Smaller rugs can also be placed in corners of the room, underneath an armchair for example, or in a bedroom, as a bedside rug. In a hallway, on the other hand, you will need a model that is longer than it is wide. Another option is to place your Berber carpet in a bathroom, to give a warm and discreet style to this humid room.
Once you've decided on the location and size of your rug, consider its color. Determine the key shades for your room, keeping in mind the rule of three: three main tones, and touches of color on accessories or decorative objects to bring in light. With these principles in mind, choose the model that will best suit your interior.
If you prefer a minimalist style, opt for a Berber carpet of "Beni Ouarains" style, with black and white shapes. On the contrary, if your interior is bright, warm and colorful, you can opt for a model of type "Azilal". With its bright colors, it will also wonderfully suit the most sober rooms, which need a shot of pep.
Take into account that the price of an authentic Berber carpet varies between 60 and 200€ for a good quality carpet, even if the cost of some high-end models can exceed 1000 euros. This price difference is justified by the size of the product, its origin and its various characteristics. However, don't hesitate to pay the price: buying a beautiful Berber carpet is a long-term investment!
Berber rugs have become a real decoration trend for several years now, but they are victims of their own success. So much so that you can find cheap carpets wrongly stamped "Berber carpets", when they only have the name! To ensure its authenticity, check its knotting: entirely hand-made, Berber carpets usually have irregularities in the corners. Also make sure that it is only made of sheep's wool from the Middle Atlas.
Multiplying Berber carpets can be useful and aesthetic to furnish the most spacious rooms. Similarly, you can segment a very large space by placing carpets in different corners that you want to separate. The rugs have the advantage of giving relief and highlighting your furniture, so do not hesitate to collect them for a better look!
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