Vintage Moroccan rugs have in the near recent past filtered into the mainstream as the glorious object d’art for decoration whether at home or in the office space. These creatively designed pieces add some sort of spontaneity and a bold and powerful statement to modern interiors.
Unfortunately, only one vintage Moroccan rug, the Beni Ouarain, is now getting all the attention for the wide variety of spectacular pieces. Most sellers of vintage Moroccan rugs use the Beni Ouarain as a mainstream term for all the black and white Moroccan rugs while essentially this is just a sub-type of these rugs.
The Moroccan rugs were originally not woven to be used as floor covers. These textiles were made for use as cozy sleeping mats and beds especially for protection in the cold winters. This is actually the reason why vintage Moroccan rugs are long and narrow, loose, thick and flexible.
The Rise and Rise of Fake Vintage Moroccan Rugs
The Beni Ourain has been steadily growing in popularity, and unfortunately, some entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the situation to start creating vintage fakes. The fake vintage Beni Ourain rugs, of course, have no links to the original tribes that first created similar but unique and spectacular carpets.
The Berber tribes of Morocco that live in Morocco’s north-eastern Middle Atlas Mountains together with other neighboring tribes were the first people to be credited for woven carpets. The Beni Ourain, in particular, is a common carpet that almost seventeen Berber tribes wove. It is believed that since the 9th century these tribes have been living in that area, with sheep rearing as their main economic activity.
The Moroccan rugs were originally not woven to be used as floor covers. These textiles were made for use as cozy sleeping mats and beds especially for protection in the cold winters. This is actually the reason why vintage Moroccan rugs are long and narrow, loose, thick and flexible. They were made so comfortable in fact that members of the tribe sometimes used them as blankets for wrapping around their body to get the much-needed warmth during the cruel winter nights.
How to Differentiate a Vintage Beni Ourain Rug from a Fake One
While there are a lot of fake vintage tribal rugs on the market today, perhaps the most notorious culprit for fake rugs is the Beni Ourain. The oldest (original) Beni Ourain rugs were very decorative and with a rich design. Their classic counterparts of today usually feature lozenges on natural cream base with simple yet powerful graphics or different diamond combinations.
There are other tribes in the Atlas Mountains whose carpets were also cream and black, but these are not Beni Ourain as commonly projected. Many factories today are paying women cheaply to produce fake vintage tribal carpets. The wool and dyes used in these carpets are of poor quality and loaded with lots of chemicals.
How to Determine and Authentic Vintage Tribal Carpet
Old and original pieces of Beni Ourain are mostly 4m plus and relatively narrow. It is also very rare to find a vintage tribal carpet that is in perfect condition, so this should be a red sign for you. A rug that has been used in a Berber home will also have limitations of its past life such as little parches where candle wax dripped, areas of marks, restoration or low pile. Berber tribes often use wool from a particular sheep breed and had a unique knotting technique such as an archaic lozenge-based design. Please notice all our Beni Ouarain rugs are woven by different Beni Ouarain tribes. We only buy rugs in the Beni Ouarain area to be sure the rugs are original and have the right to be called a Beni Ouarain.