Posted by Richard_Farber on 12-03-2003 10:15 AM:

Moroccan(?) flat weave and knotted - carpet

Dear Turkotekaroos,

This piece seems to have been woven as a kilim of one color (with some changes in the color according to the batch of the wool) than later knots were added in two shades of red, two of blue-green, orange, tan and brown to form the design. Kind of reminds me of a julkir.

I am rather sure that the colors are natural (?).
1. because of the way the wool reflects light.
2. because the of the way the color is constant through the entire strand and back with no tip fading, and
3. because I washed the piece and there was no color run.

I know next to nothing about North African carpets and would appreciate some help in an attribution.


Richard Farber

thanks to Izhak Mordekhai for the digital images.

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 12-03-2003 10:33 AM:

Hi Richard,

You say "This piece seems to have been woven as a kilim of one color… than later knots were added".
Well, I don’t think that this is possible.
Perhaps this is a knotting on warp-faced ground, like Central Asian tent bands. That’s what it looks like in your third picture.


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 12-03-2003 10:58 AM:

Correction: from Hali # 94, "Moroccan Carpets" page 78

High Atlas Carpets

…Produced in the mountainous region of Djebel Siroua, where the pre-desert climate is much more drier the that of the Middle Atlas, these carpets are made from a long-staple wool as silky and lustrous as he best Middle Eastern wool. This material quality is further emphasized by the high number of weft, usually at least ten, between each row of knots. Thus these carpets are more like flatwoven cloths decorated with knotted tufts…

This region was close, in the old days, to the indigo-dyeing areas and areas where numerous plants producing yellow dyes were available. The resulting palettes consists of very light colours with various shades of yellow, blue, turquoise and green of a rare quality.

Hope it helps.


Posted by Richard Farber on 12-03-2003 02:37 PM:

Dear Turkotickers,

Filiberto, thank you.

There was a considerable immigration to Israel in 1949 and the early fifties from Morocco including Jews from very remote regions of the Atlas Mountains.

In would not be inconceivable that these new immigrants would be bringing their belongings - including their carpets with them.

Would much appreciate further input from those with access to images of these kinds of carpets.

I can honestly say that I dont recoginze the design.


Richard Farber

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 12-03-2003 05:29 PM:

Moroccan Carpets

Greetings Fellow Turkotekkers- It was not long ago that right here on Salon 101 Discussion we delved into this subject - I think you will find the discussions of interest. Moroccan carpets with natural dyes are rather uncommon, it is my understanding, the vast majority being otherwise. I like your rug Richard, looks like much of the High Atlas weaving I have seen- Dave

Posted by R. John Howe on 12-03-2003 07:00 PM:

Hi Richard -

There have been a few books on Moroccan rugs and textiles recently.

My near neighbor here in Washington, Russell Pickering, was, with his daughter Brooke and his friend Ralph Yohe, one of those who wrote first. There's a second book on one of their Moroccan collections and I think they recently announced that they are selling it.

Marla Mallett is one of those, respected among ruggies, who is not embarrassed to be interested in Moroccan rugs and textiles and her site often has such items.

And, as I mentioned in one thread in Salon 101, that David cites, the exhibition of pieces from the Indianapolis museum is traveling and just left the African gallery of the Smithsonian recently. There is a full color catalog of that exhibition available too.

Many collectors disdain Moroccan rugs and weaving because they tend to be crudely done (although Marla argues complex weaves are sometimes used) and they are nowadays full of synthetic dyes. But folks like those cited above and even Wilfred Stanzer, recently head of ICOC, find them very interesting.

I could put up quite a few images if you cite an area of interest.


R. John Howe

Posted by Marla Mallett on 12-03-2003 09:44 PM:

Hi Richard and all,

These weavings are most often just labeled “Ouaouzguite,” from the High Atlas Mountains in southeastern Morocco. They are weft-faced weaves, with widely separated rows of long knotted pile that nearly lies flat, exhibiting the glossy wool to best advantage—at least when in “full pile” condition. Nothing is added “afterwards,” but rather several picks of weft are woven, then a row of knots is tied. Anyone who complains because they are “coarse” is missing the point; they are entirely different animals from Asian carpets. Most do not exhibit natural dyes, but can be extremely handsome pieces nevertheless. I like yours.

Best wishes,

Posted by R. John Howe on 12-04-2003 05:56 AM:

Marla -

Say a little more about folks who might "miss the point" of Moroccan weaving.

It's not just that they're "coarse" (lots of the wonderful Turkish village rugs do not rise above 25 knots per square inch in their fineness; Wendel Swan owns something that has one knot per square inch), but the Moroccan pile pieces often seem to be woven loosely and can contain so many irregularities that they would often seem to qualify for the simply "bad weaving" category.

Why do they not, necessarily?


R. John Howe

Posted by Marla Mallett on 12-04-2003 10:59 PM:

Hi John, Richard and all,

All “Moroccan pile pieces” are not the same, and because some are carelessly constructed, we need not condemn them all. I find huge differences between some of the Rabat “city” carpets, for example, and Berber pieces such as those from the High Atlas Mountains. The Rabat carpets, which often display Turkish or Persian motifs, can seem crude, with insensitive color usage, and a design/weave scale that is out of proportion. Few of those appeal to me, and over the several years in which I dealt in Moroccan pieces, I never could convince myself to buy one.

We should perhaps consider whether or not we should even call the majority of High Atlas Ouaouzguite pile weavings “carpets,” as they are closer to blankets in their handle. They are soft, flexible, multi-purpose weavings. The patterns and their scale, for the most part, tend to be quite well suited to the structure. And while their pile is widely spaced, long, and shaggy, it’s not fair to merely dismiss the best old examples as “coarse.” They can be at once bold and sensual objects. There is, for example, a huge, long, (maybe 25 foot long?) shaggy black piece in the museum in Fez that blows me away with its primal power. There’s nothing from Western or Central Asia to which it could reasonably be compared. It is a completely different kind of object.

I must admit that the majority of Moroccan Berber pile rugs from the Middle Atlas—especially pieces from the second half of the 20th century--I find extremely dull and uninteresting. But not all. I think most of those can indeed be characterized as “coarse.”

As for Moroccan flat weaves, the weft-substitution techniques and designs used by Middle Atlas Berber nomads are extremely complex, as are the elaborate examples of twining from the High Atlas. Old examples can be truly amazing! We just don’t see many of these pieces around, so that most folks don’t have an opportunity to make fair judgments about them. In my opinion, US exhibitions held in the 80s and 90s included mostly mediocre pieces. In the mid-1970s, when I was tracking down these things in Morocco, fabulous things were turning up. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the wisdom to hang on to at least a few of them, and the supply did not last long; thus I must admit that I lost interest in the hunt.

These are of course purely personal views!


Posted by Phil Lloyd on 12-06-2003 03:55 PM:

Rehamna Rugs..

Like Marla,.I have always been wary of purchasing a genuine Tribal type,.'Rehamna' or Boujad ' carpet from Morocco...
I LOVE their mellow colour and abstract look,.but,.whenever I have handled one,.I shy away from getting my cheque book out !
But,.no longer,.I have done the deed,.and you know what,.I am glad that I did !..What a beautiful thing my Rehamna is,.
Please,..John Howe, post some pictures of these crazy and fairly course,.lol..(very course,lol.. )...,.but genuine weavings...
All the best,.Phil Lloyd,.Hampshire,.UK...

Posted by Richard Farber on 12-06-2003 08:45 PM:

Dear Turkoteccans,

Yes, the carpet has the feel of soft blanket and I too would appreciate seeing images of carpets with similar designs to mine.

Thanks in advance,

Richard Farber

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 12-07-2003 12:47 AM:

Natural Dye High Atlas Rug

If I could recall the source of this image I would credit him/her- but it escapes me- I believe it was from an online auction catalogue - now expired, but none the less we might want to refrain from speculation as to quality, value ect. It was described as being from the last century and to be both of natural dye and good quality- it looks strikingly like several I have seen offered for sale by vendors in the High Atlas, but most of the latter had some rather obvious chemical dyes. For myself, this design represents THE High Atlas rug-


Posted by R. John Howe on 12-07-2003 10:17 AM:

Dear folks -

Here are a few of the images of other versions of High Atlas rugs. In the two books from which they are drawn they are mostly presented with the long sides vertical. I have rotated those images here to the left so that you can see the designs more clearly. The orientation does change the way they look. If you can print them off, it might be worth doing do that you can look at them in the orientation in which all but the first below was printed.

The first three are from the Pickering, Pickering and Yohe, book "Moroccan Carpets."

Here first is a 19th century rug of this sort. It is 18 feet long and four feet, seven inches wide. It is presented with a two page layout. I have given you both halves in separate images here.

These piece are often very long. Pickering, Pickering and Yohe present one that is 23 feet long.

Note that this piece has no side borders. Borders apparently are an indicator of later pieces.

The piece below is estimated at second quarter, 20th century.

The next one is about the same age and shorter, only a little over 7 feet long.

The last piece is from another book, "From the Far West: Moroccan Carpets and Textiles." It was a jointly authored publication of The Textile Museum.

Some of these pieces show a lot of white.


R. John Howe

Posted by Phil Lloyd on 12-07-2003 03:24 PM:

The Plains of Marrakesh.

Many thanks for those splendid images John.
My own 'latest passion' is now for the realy Tribal carpets woven by the Rehamna tribe and the strangely abstract pieces referred to as 'Boujad'..I have read the modern works of the Pickerings and also obtained a copy of the book,.'From Sign to Image' by
Abdelkebir Khatibi and Ali Amahan,..also on the subject of Moroccan carpets,..however,.apart from a few pages of images and various splendid articles in Hali,..the available photos of these unusual and quite striking weavings would seem to be rather thin on the ground ( a bit like the rugs themselves )...?
I personaly doubt if I will ever get over the sheer 'courseness' of weave and low knot count that gives these pieces their flimsy ,..blanket - like feel,..but as Marla has stated,..these creations must not be viewed in the same light as other Middle Eastern rugs and carpets,.and slowly but surely,.I'm getting,.do any of the Turkotek members have any further images to post,.all info,.any info,.. gratefully recieved..
Many thanks,.Phil Lloyd,.Hampshire,UK...

Posted by R. John Howe on 12-08-2003 06:45 AM:

Hi Phil -

Since you're interested in this area, it might be useful to have the specifics on the Moroccan rug and textile exhibition, from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, that is currently traveling in the U.S.

There is a full-color catalog.

The Fabric of Moroccan Life (2002)
Niloo Imami Paydar and Ivo Grammet, general editors

Hardcover $45.00
304 pages; 199 color illustrations
ISBN 0-936260-76-9

Distributed by University of Washington Press.

This book accompanies the IMA exhibition The Fabric of Moroccan Life—the largest exhibition of Moroccan art ever presented in the United States. Featuring 150 textiles from the IMA collection, the catalogue provides an overview of that collection and includes essays on such topics as Moroccan embroidery and its origins, the traditional costumes of the cities and rural areas, the weavings of the Berbers and other ethnic groups, and the distinctive characteristics of items made by particular ethnic sub-groups. The contributing writers are eminent scholars and experts in a variety of fields, including Moroccan history and culture; Moroccan rugs, textiles, and clothing; and natural dyes. The catalogue offers a wealth of information on the subject that has never been available before in one volume.

Here also is the link to the Indianapolis Museum book store.

The materials seem stronger to me than those in some other collections. The Indianapolis collection of Moroccan material came mostly from that of a single couple who apparently collected quite early.


R. John Howe

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 12-09-2003 09:23 PM:

Three Streams of Influence

Dear Phil and All- Iv'e scanned a photo of both

a Rehamna and A boujad, so all can get an idea of what we are talking about.
It happens that I was searching

the web for a reference to the Oulad Bou Sbaa, who reside upon the Marrakech plains, only to find rugs of strikingly simular design- to those attribuited to the Rehemna by Pickering. This is not to call into question Pickerings assertions as to provenance, as both could well produce simular material, but as an indicator as to what degree those three primary influences of Moroccan carpet designs, Turkic, Berber and Arab have affected design repetoir.
Recalling both the archived discussion

15th Cent Andalusian Rug

and the images of early 19th cent
city carpets post by our moderator Filiberto in the forementioned
archived Salon#101

it's apparent that Turkic design has exerted much influence, even as demonstrated by this

antique High Atlas weaving with its clearly defined(and wide) borders and central medallion/symmetical composition.
Pickering asserts a belief, and submits

this antique weaving, with it's design symmetry of horizontil banding, as representing a most archaic or authentic berber design composition. With it's three wider bands, the basic format is simular to this,

or possibly even this

- It's getting late, more tomorrow- Dave

Another Moroccan example of this banded format

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 12-10-2003 10:06 PM:

The Arabs

To All-The last of the three images being compared above from my last post, Jenny Housego's Tribal Rugs plate#120, are described as being produced by Baluch or Kerman tribes and hence middle eastern. While of course it could be argued that the limitations of the weaving medium might themselves first suggest a format of horizontil stripes, and that the design evolved independantly, the appearence of this weft float technique, common as I understand only to these areas say to me - Imported. And history does I believe bear witness to the fact that the Arab invaders, proceeding from the Fatamids of Cairo to Syria, Libiya, and in turn most the rest of North Africa- and may well have brought their designs and techniques to these areas so long ago, which to this day they are still to be found in modified form.
It seems that when we speak of Morocco we seem to forget that while the indigenous peoples who have left an indellible print and impart a discernable artistic sensibility or aesthetic to much of the creative process, the Berber were and perhaps still are a subdjucated people. Neither their language nor their religion, let alone the people themselves, are the dominating forces in Morocco.

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 12-12-2003 04:55 AM:

Berbers- Up Close and in Person

I owe this woman an apology,as she is actually rather attractive, not a great picture of her but a nice picture in general.
This photo was taken in her back yard as she was doing some chores in this blinding light and heat- and she is a berber. However, as with so many, she speaks Arabic. Granted, it is my understanding that as a general rule the ethnologist uses language as a delineating marker, but in Morocco many of the Berber speak Arabic. I don't know that there is any danger of the language being extinguished, but it has been supplanted to a considerable degree.
Who are these Berbers, these fair complected Meditterainian
people who have resided in North Africa since the advent of recorded history, whose language in it's written form is rarely encountered?

As we can see, they are a rather diverse group- with the exception of the twins situated to the immediate left and right of the young man depicted, these people are all berber. Such is the main obstacle to description or categorization of the Berber people- and in turn their weaving. Note the habit of the women wearing an apron over their dress- the height of polyester tribal fashion. Looking into the background, we are afforded a glimpse of that striking topography for which Morocco is so famous.This photo was taken at the foot of the High Atlas mountains,hence what we see in the background of the photo are- the foothills of the High Atlas. Those thin horizontil lines circumventing these hills and appearing in the photo as striations are the remnants of terraced gardens or pastureland, now abandoned. A couple of hundred years ago this region was temperate. This photo was taken in the spring, but by summer most all the green you see will have withered, the little moisture available driven off by the heat.

Posted by Richard Farber on 12-12-2003 06:07 AM:

Dear turkoberbers,

Mr. Hunt . . . you have been posting wonderful images . .. perhaps you might do a essay on the populations of North Africa and a little background on the styles of carpets . . .in other words do a proper salon . . . you seem to be well informed and most interested . . . PLEASE . . .

We could take this thread and include it in the discussion of the salon if that would be o.k. with Steve and Filiberto.

Thanks again.


Richard Farber

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 12-12-2003 11:08 PM:

I'm Flattered Really...

Richard and All- I don't know what happened, but suddenly the muse was upon me. I'm afraid that I don't know enough about the people of North Africa to work up something of interest on such a broad topic, but I think I would enjoy continuing this line of inquiry, that of the origin of Moroccan carpet designs, in salon form. Rest assured I am not a professional, formal experience
constituting no more than a couple of anthropology classes, a little time spent in the region, a keen interest in carpets, and being married to a moroccan. I'll see what I can come up with-Dave

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 12-13-2003 08:52 AM:

Please go ahead, Dave, new Salons are always welcomed.

Besides, you are in a very good position for writing on Moroccan textiles.
Best regards,


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