Rug Origins: African and Moroccan Rugs

Image by Richard Mcall from Pixabay

African and Moroccan rugs are popular for having quirky designs and a utilitarian vibe that is hard to find in any other style of rug. While most people think these rugs are only made in Morocco, the highly sought after patterns and colors are actually shared by other carpets originating from the same region – North Africa. This is why rug experts are so particular when it comes to distinguishing between a ‘Moroccan rug design’ and a rug of ‘Moroccan origin.’

Collectively referred to as African rugs, there are three countries in North Africa that play a prominent role in the history and production of these beautiful rugs; Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Why They Are Called Moroccan Rugs

Moroccan design or Moroccan origin? This beautiful Moroccan design rug is handwoven in Turkey.

According to historical records, Moroccan rugs were first made by the Berber tribe of North Africa. Originally thought of as nomadic people, it was later established they were able to settle and form communities in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, and other parts of the region. Like other ancient man-made creations, the Berber people purposely created the rugs to protect them from the harsh mountain and desert conditions they have to endure while traveling. This would explain why these carpets are rarely made in big sizes – they had to be easily movable and lightweight.

Real Berber woven Moroccan rugs are identifiable by its simple and often uneven patterns which point to the nature of why they were made – out of necessity. These rugs were not meant to be used as decor and its designs were inspired by everyday things weavers saw or experienced. Apart from its Moroccan roots, the Berber has also established a presence in Egypt and Tunisia where many rugs of the same designs are being made even today. African rugs have become as trendy as their Persian counterparts thanks largely to the design trend sparked by Moroccan rugs. 

Author: Carlo Vincent Mollenido

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