Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

14 08 2013

Something you cannot and do not want to miss in Morocco are Berber carpets and rugs. They are everywhere; they come from everywhere, and each one of them tells a story. It may well be one of the oldest and finest crafts in the country.


The word Berber also Imazighen or Amazigh is said to mean “free people”. Berbers are farmers, shepherds or goatherds who live in the mountains. Traditionally, the men take care of livestock and their farming. Animal husbandry provides them wool, while cotton and plants are used for dyeing. Women have a prominent role in the household; they look after the family and make handicraft for their personal use, and to sell sale in the local souqs.

The nomadic and semi-nomadic lifestyle of the Berbers in earlier times was very suitable for weaving kilims. The tapestry maintains the traditional appearance and distinctiveness of the region of origin of their tribe, which has in effect its own repertoire of design for ages. The plain weave is represented by a wide variety of stripes, and by geometrical patterns such as triangles and diamonds. Additional decorations such as sequins or fringes, are typical of Berber weave in Morocco. The customs and traditions differ from one region to another. The social structure of the Berbers is tribal and it is not unusual for women to be leading the tribe.


The carpets and rugs the women weave, knot and embroider are traditionally made from ‘eco’ wool meaning “live wool” (that is wool shorn from a sheep, rather than taken from a sheepskin after the sheep has been killed), organic cotton, linen and sometimes even silk, leather and reed, and old textiles that have been ripped to pieces.

Getting acquainted with the different type of rugs turns into a major research project where you come across exotic names like Beni OuarainBoujadHendira,ZemmourZaiane AzilalBoucherouiteMrirtTaznakht,Beni MguildAit OuauzguitMarmushaGlaua and Ulad Busba. These names derive from the name of the tribe or the place or region where they are produced. There are approximately 45 different tribal groups, each of which has distinctive designs and sometimes varying weaving, knotting and embroidery styles and their own color palette.


Within all these differences there is one factor that popped up while examining the carpets collection at Le Cadeau Berbere. There was playfulness, imperfection and an abundance of diamonds used as patterns. The idiosyncratic shapes were created according to the whim of the weaver. These design inspired dreams about the free spirit of the women weavers. How they loved their crafts, the joyfulness showed through their work. How they use colors and patterns. I imagined them sitting there doing their job and getting into a trancelike state or meditation making archetypical patterns and choosing colors that suited their mood of the day. Each weaving project is a personal story–a unique piece with a dream of its own.

Most Berber women today don’t remember why they make certain patterns. It has always been like this. The patterns have symbolic and talismanic meanings that the women themselves are not always aware of anymore. The diamond is said to protect you as a watchful guardian, warding of the evil eye. It can, however, depending on its positioning and color represent a vagina a well as fertility, virginity and sexuality.

There are vintage carpets and newly made ones. Architects like Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright of the mid-twentieth century, embraced the graphic beauty of the White and Black Beni Ouarain carpets. Each carpet is different and more appealing then the previous. 

Original Article



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