North African

North AfricanOne of the more significant North African styles is the Moroccan. Prior to the 19th century no Moroccan rugs have been found. A unique characteristic of Moroccan rugs is that they can be up to 15 feet long. Even though the newer rugs tend to be shorter, they are still quite long. Moroccan rugs can be pile weave, flat weave, or a combination of both. All Moroccan rugs are geometric. In general, the colors used in Moroccan weaving are soft shades of red, blue, mauve, green, yellow, and white. Moroccan rugs can be divided into the two main categories of urban and tribal. The urban rugs are produced in Rabat and Mediouna, which are very different in appearance from the tribal rugs. The tribal rugs are woven by the weaving tribes of Plains of Marrakesh, High Atlas, Zemmour Confederation, and Middle Atlas. Even though most tribal rugs are very different in appearance from the urban rugs, they have been influenced by urban rugs to some degree.

The older rugs of Rabat have several minor borders; as a result, they have long and narrow fields. The field usually consists of a double-ended medallion or sometimes all-over diamonds with two large and side-by-side stepped triangles at each end of the rug. Tulips are a frequent motif in rugs of Rabat. The background is frequently red and the motifs are in various bright colors. After World War I, in response to the Western taste, mainly Europe, colors became softer, and today's rugs consist of floral motifs on a plain field similar to modern Persian Kerman styles.

Rugs of Mediouna, a small town near Casablanca, have fewer minor borders than the Rabat rugs; therefore, they have a wider field. There could be more than three octagonal medallions on the field. Traditional Mediouna rugs are no longer woven, but the style is copied.

Tribal rugs
The main difference between the urban rugs and traditional tribal rugs is that in tribal rugs there is less symmetry in the overall design, and many times no borders exist. Some common tribal designs include horizontal stripes containing various repeating geometric motifs such as diamonds with hooks or steps, squares, and triangles; all-over lattices mainly in shapes of diamonds; or repeating motifs arranged in rows or columns on a plain field. However, tribal rugs have been influenced by urban rugs; therefore, borders, medallions, symmetry in design and even floral motifs can sometimes be seen in newer tribal rugs.

The Plains of Marrakesh
The tribal weavers of the Plains of Marakesh produce are very diverse designs. Pile rugs from the Chiadma area and the Oulad Bou Sbaa tribes have a unique mixture of medallions, borders, and motifs characteristic of Rabat and/or the traditional tribal bands with geometric motifs. The rugs of the Rehamna tribe, on the other hand, have unique free-form designs.


The High Atlas
The tribal weavers of the High Atlas make rugs with symmetrical designs. The field contains a square, rectangular or diamond medallion. Sometimes there are one or more diamond shapes within the medallion. The rest of the field can consist of diamond lattices, all-over motifs in rows or columns, or bands of geometric motifs. The older rugs tend to have no borders or a very narrow border, and even in the flat weaves, the designs are created with knots.

The Zemmour Confederation
In rugs of Zemmour Confederation there is often symmetry in the design. The pile rugs often have geometric motifs on a red background. Flat weaves frequently consist of bands of stripes; some bands are plain and some consist of different geometric patterns such as diamonds, triangles, or zigzags. In the flat weaves, white cotton is used to create contrast. These rugs can be very colorful.

The Middle Atlas
The pile rugs and flat weaves of the Middle Atlas are very similar to the rugs of Zemmour Confederation with the exception of their asymmetrical designs. Also the designs are more crowded.