The origins of the Berber carpet go back to the Paleolithic era for centuries. The carpets are made by keeping the same traditions and the same weaving techniques. The different models and ornaments all have a symbolic origin in relation to religion, beliefs and Berber culture. This knowledge has been passed down through the generations. Berber carpets are one-of-a-kind works of art manufactured in the purest style for domestic usage. This knowledge is threatened since the beginning of the century by the progressive sedentarization of the large nomadic tribes. Today we are witnessing a renewal of the forms of expression and materials used.
Traditionally, carpets made by young women are then included in the wedding dowry. These carpets are frequently used rarely and stored by families because of their monetary value. Artisans sell their carpets according to the economic risks that the household may encounter. Berber rugs are traditionally made of wool. The two most common types of wool carpets are the Beni Ouarain carpets (black geometric patterns on a white background and fairly thick wool) and the Azilal (more colorful and richer wool). The less wealthy families who could not buy wool took the habit, from the middle of the twentieth century to recycle the fabric of their used clothes in carpets. These are the carpets of Boucherouite.
Traditional and modern Berber rugs in North Africa
Modern Berber rugs have a type of ring pile that gives a similar appearance to the characteristic knot of traditionally woven Berber rugs. Modern rugs usually contain small patches of dark colors on lighter shades of background colors resembling a natural unpainted version of traditional rugs. They usually consist of a mixture of neutral colors with no pattern and are relatively inexpensive and durable. The distinctive knot fabric and appearance of traditional hand-woven Berber rugs are usually woven in brightly colored patterns that differ from other Oriental rugs.
Handmade Berber rugs remain an active industry in many rural areas of the Berber regions. Many Berber families earn their basic income by making carpets by hand and selling them in local markets, to merchants and tourists. Thus, traditional Berber carpets differ from modern mass-produced Berber carpets that are usually found in industrial markets.
Today, there are many types of modern carpets made from a wide range of materials. Nylon, olefin fibers and wool are the most commonly used materials.
Berber carpets are extremely resistant and easily adaptable in every living space. The Berber carpet is also resistant to stains. To maintain it most professionals recommend cleaning the Berber carpet using a dry-cleaning process or low humidity. Steam cleaning with alkaline cleaners can cause potential acid burns in the olefin. It is recommended to do a deep cleaning every 6-12 months.