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The Berber are a tribe indigenous to North Africa and the Sahara. The name, when associated to carpets and/or rugs specifically refers to the distinctive style of weaving applied by the Berber women, that of loops and knots. Although the question of authenticity falls under a grey area as mass production, while retaining the layout, do not really follow the traditional style which was limited to the use of very few colours that would occur naturally. Also, differences can be found in the type of materials used, both due to the rising demand of the rugs and, of course, there is the question of maintenance as well.
The various types of Berber style rugs include the Boucherouite, the Beni Ourain and, the Azilal. The last is characteristic of the Azilal province of central Morocco. Multiple colours from vegetable dyes and geometric shapes are typical of this type. The Beni Ourain is the Berber style rug that has been popularised by their use by certain famous interior decorators. Made from sheepskin wool, these rugs are highly popular for their minimalistic designs that add a unique kind of sophistication to homes. The Boucheroite is one made from recycled items.
A distinct line can be drawn between the traditional Berber style rugs and the modern or urban ones even though the design and style is mostly derivative and overlapping. Traditional Berber carpets have cultural and regional designs incorporated into them while those produced industrially (while they do give similar inputs as those by the Berber women) only give a ‘semblance’ of the natural dyed versions. The style of the knot had, originally, been incorporated to counter the severe climatic conditions of the mountainous regions of Middle Atlas.
Berber style rugs are dirt resistant and durable. Foot prints do not leave a mark on these rugs as they would on a normal carpet made out of thread. They are also cost effective when compared to luxurious carpets. Berber rugs (industrially produced and made from nylon, olefin, etc.) are much cheaper than those made of wool. They are easy to clean and the design that is distinctive of the Berber style rugs, that of loops and knots, make them much durable as well.
Vintage 1960 Beni Ouarain