From The Heart Of The Atlas Mountains – The Beni Ourain Rug

Stemming from a rich history of weaving textiles, Beni Ourain rugs have a unique organic look and feel. They have become a popular item in modern décor as their simple geometric patterns bring handmade imperfection to minimalistic design.

Tradition and Excellence

Weaving rugs is a long held traditional in the Atlas Mountains with each tribe having their own design and patterns that are passed down from mother to daughter. Each tribe adds small details to make their rugs distinguishable from one another.
The tribal people use mostly undyed wool they take from their own flocks of sheep and goats. The breed and care of the animals is a contributing factor to the high quality of the wool produced. To create their characteristic designs, some dye is used but the type and how it is made varies depending on the tribe.

Symbolism
Because weaving is a strong family tradition in this region, many of the rugs have representations of the most powerful events in the human experience such as birth, death, nature, and religious beliefs. These decorative elements provide an opportunity for the weavers to tell a story in an art form that can last for generations.
Weavers use religious symbols as a way to ward off evil or provide protection for the family. Each tribe develops symbols of their own and the rugs become a way of recording tribal history.

Geographical Influence

Mountain regions can have a wide variety of climate conditions. The Beni Ourain tribes developed looser weave patterns with larger loops that are used in the higher mountain regions. This loose weave traps warm air that helps to fight the cold of high altitudes. In fact, traditionally, the Beni Ourain used the rugs as blankets or bedspreads because a loose weave allows them to conform to the human body making them warm, comfortable, and durable.
For tribes location in the lower regions, a tighter weave with thinner strands is used. Rugs with a tight, thin weave are often used as a sleeping mat rather than a blanket or rug.

Handwoven vs. Mass-Produced

Today, most Beni Ourain rugs are replicas of the traditional handmade pieces. Mass produced pieces may not have the one-of-a-kind designs of a handwoven rug but they are inspired by the designs and effectively provide the same look and feel when used in home décor. They allow the beauty created in this unique part of the Morroco to be shared throughout the world. Mass produced rugs are also much more affordable than a handwoven piece.

The wool in a handwoven rug is not as refined as that used in mass produced pieces. This makes the manufactured rugs softer and more supple, while a handwoven rug would take years of use to get the same feel as the replicas. Replicas are not created in lengths longer than seven feet, while the tribe weavers will make the rugs as large or long as is necessary for practical use.

The continued popularity of this primitive art form helps support the idea that a Beni Ourain rug is a purchase worth investing in as it can be handed down and will hold its value as long as it is cared for properly. Simple colors and shapes make them an ideal piece to fit in with any modern décor. Click here for more information about these rugs.