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Tips for buying a Moroccan Handwoven Rug (Part 2)

It’s no doubt that rugs are a big investment. If you missed part one of our rug buying tips, check out the first blog post here where we talked about some common Moroccan Berber rugs. Today we're following up with what to look for before you settle on your handwoven Moroccan rug to ensure that it is exactly what you want.

1. Know the material: cotton, wool, or silk

If you are spending money on a genuine hand-woven rug, it is important to know the material of the rug. Genuine Moroccan Berber handwoven rugs can be made of cotton, natural sheep wool, or cactus silk. Cactus silk, as opposed to the silk thread of a silkworm, is a vegan fiber made from the yucca plant that is natural to Morocco. It is a tough fiber and its rugs will likewise hold up in a high-traffic area.

Sabra Cactus silk flatweave rug

The benefits of a rug made of genuine fibers are its durability and longevity. Whereas a natural fiber rug might naturally shed a little bit throughout its lifetime, a rug made of synthetic fibers will start breaking apart after a few years as the fibers disintegrate. A quick test to make sure your rug is made of natural fibers is to hold a lighter up to the fringe. Wool, cotton, and cactus silk natural fibers will not burn like the synthetic ones you would find in big box stores’ products. If it does not catch fire, you’ve got a genuine fiber rug.

2. Inspect the colors

Color is an important aspect of Berber rugs, and each tribe has certain colors that they use more than others. You will generally only find natural dyes in vintage rugs over fifty years old; however modern dyes also produce beautiful results. It is common for both natural and synthetic dyes to fade. As Berber rugs are aired in the hot sun, fading is a sure thing. You can be certain than vintage rugs have faded as much as they will; whereas the color in newer carpets may lose their brightness with age. In larger pieces, the colors might slightly vary from one end to the other as the wool is dyed in small batches and may have slight variations. These color characteristics are highly sought after in hand-woven rugs as making each piece unique.

3. Is it new or vintage?

If it is new, has the rug been aged to look vintage? Keep in mind that well-made vintage pieces will go for a higher price. New rugs can be made to appear aged by hanging in the sun, but a clear giveaway is looking at the underside, whose colors will likely stay bright if it is newer.

Vintage Boujaad rug

Vintage Boujaad Rug shows fading on both sides

 4. Check the weaving on the backside of the rug

Lift up the back of the carpet at a corner. You want to look for any imperfections, like irregular or uneven knots or even a hole. Perfect carpets do not exist if they have been woven by hand. A uniform carpet with no irregularities screams factory made!

Once you’ve looked at the back of the carpet, double check that the knots, while irregular, are tight and even. If you can fit your finger through the weave, it is too loose.

5. Lay the rug flat to look at the shape

An uneven shape is normal, as these handmade rugs are woven on a non-commercial handloom (as opposed to a factory machine) and will not be a perfect shape. It is common for the rug to be slightly larger at the top where the weavers started the rug and narrower at the bottom, but not so much so that the weave is looser.

6. Inspect the edges and fringe

Uneven edges can also show up in handwoven rugs, as the strings of a loom might loosen or tighten over the length of time that a rug is being woven. As you look at the rug flat, ensure that the edges are not wavy and that there is a good evenly-knotted weave throughout the rug.

Ensure that there is a finished fringe along the top and bottom of the rug to prevent your rug from fraying into the weave.

7. Make sure the rug's size will fit your space

How big is the size of the space where you would like to put your rug? Get a conversion app (We like this one for iphone) and make sure you know the area in centimeters as well if you are buying your rug from a dealer in Morocco!

Rugs are rarely made on demand, and given the size of handlooms, it is sometimes difficult to find the exact size that you are looking for. Focus instead on finding a design and colors that you love. If you find something that is not the exact size you are looking for, you can always layer your handwoven rug on a jute rug to create some depth to your space.


We love this layered look from @beniourainrugs

If a trip to Morocco is not in your foreseeable future, but you are interested in investing in a Berber rug, don’t fret! Beyond the rug collections we have on our website, we also love to help you find your perfect rug. Just send us an email with the size, colors, and style of rug you are looking for and we can help you hunt down the perfect rug. Let us know if we can help!

Feel free to reach out by email if you are looking to invest in the perfect Berber rug.

Don't forget to use the code FALL18RUGS or click here for 25% off of your rug purchase before Sunday, October 28!

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