The origin carpet weaving by the Berber populations dates back several millenia. The hand spun cloth they created was named for the individual tribe, and they used natural fibers to create cloaks, rugs, and other fabrics.
Modern industrialized Berber carpets are distinguished by a loop pile construction type that gives a similar appearance to the distinct knot of traditionally woven Berber carpets. The modern carpets usually contain small flecks of dark color on lighter shades of background colors resembling a natural undyed version of the traditional carpets. They generally consist of a plain color mix with no pattern, and are relatively cheap and durable. Popular for areas with significantly heavy use such as offices. The distinctive knot texture and appearance of traditional hand-woven Berber carpets today are generally woven in brightly colored designs that are different from other oriental rugs.
Handmade and usually homemade Berber carpets are still an active industry in many rural areas of Berber countries. Many Berber families earn their primary income from building-up carpets manually and selling them in local markets, merchants and tourists. Traditional Berber carpets differ from modern mass-produced Berber carpets that are usually found in industrialized markets. They often employ cultural designs and are typically made of natural materials
Today, there are numerous types of modern Berber carpet made from a wide variety of materials, Nylon, Olefin fiber, and wool are the most frequently used materials, Except Tunisian Berber carpets and rugs usually called “Mergoum” which still preserve a know how inherited from ancestral weaving methods. Tunisian authorities are still controlling every piece to guarantee quality and that ‘Berber’ spirit in designs, patterns and symbols knotted so only wool is permitted with a total ban of any synthetic material, then each rug or carpet is sealed with a red wax sign (of Tunisian handicrafts authorities).
In other countries Olefin is the most frequently used and most affordable material, and carpets with blends of the different materials are also available.
Berber carpet is highly durable and is often found in offices, schools, and other high traffic areas. It is stain resistant as well, and is generally more affordable than thicker plush carpets. To care about it is recommended by most professionals that Moroccan Olefin Berber should be cleaned using a low-moisture or dry cleaning process. Traditional steam cleaning with high alkaline detergents can cause potential pH burns in the olefin. These appear as large yellow or brown splotches. Yellow or brown spots also may be tannin bleed from the sugars in natural fiber carpets that are drawn to the top by improper drying usually caused by over wetting. There are carpet chemicals that can remove most of this yellowing or browning but they are very expensive, and it would be better to not get the yellowing or browning. A better, but more difficult, method may be to dry the carpet from the bottom. This method would generally require lifting up some of the carpet to install a carpet fan under the carpet, and using hot air, not just room temperature air. Regrettably, many of these stains can be permanent if not corrected immediately by a professional carpet cleaner. As with all carpets, Berber should be cleaned every 6 to 12 months to prevent permanent wear patterns.
( From Wikipidia)
Moroccan carpets are famous around the world. In the West, the tightly woven beige Berber rugs are found in most modern homes, schools and offices. Although these rugs are stain resistant their dark flecks of brown and tan do not compare to the thousands of intricate designs and colors of the traditional Berber carpets of Morocco.
Traditional Berber carpets contain distinctive patterns and colors and are woven from sheep wool or camel hair (you can also find them made from nylon and olefin material). The materials are hand-washed and naturally dyed from saffron yellow, to wild mint green, and from pomegranate and henna. These carpets are known for their strong geometric designs, and have been dated them as far back as the Merinid era. Carpets in the Middle Atlas generally have a traditional diamond grid.
The Berber tribes developed a variety of weaves to be adaptable to different climates. The rugs in the mountains have larger loops, are more loosely knotted to provide protection against the cold. In warmer climates the rugs are made with a finer weave. The carpets in the Middle Atlas were used as sleeping mats, and in regions with mild climates knots tend to be 2cm high.
Berber weaving is highly dependent on the female culture, and is passed down traditionally within the home. The young apprentice is expected to learn the the different looping techniques, patterns, color ranges and motifs. Historically women wove carpets for their families, and men traditionally produced carpets that were more specialized as professional masterweavers. These inspiring designs have been motivation for more modern carpet fabrication.
Historically carpets where a preferred gift for people in elite social classes and where used to adorn palaces and other sacred places. The more urban carpets have also been used at prayer mats and rugs in the hammam. Travelers who are interested in Berber carpet weaving should check out the Weavers Cooperative, and the Berber Carpet Demonstration, a famous exhibition. Some ancient Haouz rugs are also preserved in museums such as the Dar Batha Museum. These intricate rugs can be purchased from the tribes themselves but also in the winding souks of Fes,Marrakech and Rabat.
Carpets originating in the hills and plains of the Haouz region do not tend to follow traditional designs or rules. In this region, the weavers stress the freedoms of the individual throughout the composition. The carpets have a distinctive style and are often captivating works of art.
The bold colors, in depth patterns and weaving techniques of different regions have their own distinct style. Each tribe has a signature pattern and commonly unfold a story, revealing acts of ceremony, or designs that often relate to fertility and protection. Like any other type of abstract art, interpretations can be better guided with additional knowledge of the culture, songs and legends.