Beni Ourain Rugs and the Women Who Make Them

It is our belief at Souks du Monde that much good can come out of shopping with consciousness. For one thing, a beautiful new handbag or pair of shoes can put you in a good mood, or a new lamp can make a somber room brighter. Even more than that, however, buying something handmade from someone who depends on your purchase to feed their family, send their daughter to school, or gain their own independence through the work that they do, brings about more good in the world. It was with this reality that Souks du Monde reached out to artisans in Morocco: to see how we could help each other bring about more good.


We would like to share with you some of the experiences we have had with our artisans in Morocco. It is common knowledge that the women in the Berber tribes of the Atlas mountains are the rug weavers. What is perhaps not so common knowledge is how these women create these unique, one-of-a-kind rugs. We went to a Berber village in the Atlas mountains to check out some Beni Ourain rugs and had the chance of seeing a group of women relatives working together on one of the rugs.

 

The women work on one rug at a time, in between their household duties and taking care of their children. It can take weeks or months to complete a rug, given the size of the rug and the amount of time the women can dedicate to weaving. For these women, rug weaving is a time to be with their family members, a means of passing down a generational tradition, a lucrative hobby, and a break from chores.

Rug weaving is indeed a technical task, one that has been passed down from mother to daughter. Common motifs and themes emerge in Beni Ourain rugs, as each piece is indeed a work of art and an expression of the artisans who create it. Themes such as birth, nature, femininity, and rural life, as well as symbols of luck or barriers of evil, are common in Beni Ourain rugs.

The process of rug weaving starts with shearing sheep wool, traditionally from the sheep herding amongst the nomadic tribes, many of which still exist today. Berber rugs are woven from natural wool, considered to be the highest quality in all of Morocco. The wool is cleaned and scoured before being hand spun into yarn. A true Beni Ourain rug with pass the test when the flame of a match or lighter does not set fire to the 100% natural wool.

 

 

As the knotting process can take months, and the wool can become dirty, the finished rug is washed two or three more times and dried outside in the sun until the rug is soft. The work that the weavers put into each rug makes for a gorgeous piece of art at its finished product. 

Check out the Beni Ourain treasures that we found in our Beni Ourain collection of traditional Diamond motifs on cream-colored backgrounds, polka dots, runners, and flatweave styles. If you do not see what you are looking for, please get in touch with us at hello@souksdumonde.com to let us know. Beni Ourain rugs are not made to order, but we would love to try and find something that suits you!

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