Beni Ouarain Berber carpets are authentic Moroccan carpets entirely hand-woven by the women of the Berber tribes of Beni Ouarain and nearby villages, residing in the northeast of the Middle Atlas of Morocco, more precisely in the current national park of Tazekka , a province located between the towns of Guercif, Taza and Sefrou.
TRADITIONAL USE OF BENI OUARAIN MATS :
Winter turns out to be icy in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains where the lowest temperatures in Africa are observed. To protect themselves in this hostile environment, the Berber families of the tribes of Beni Ouarain living in traditional tents, had no other alternative than to produce thick carpets of high quality wool.
Originally, Beni Ouarain rugs were not intended to have a decorative vocation but were rather a necessity dictated by circumstances: they were traditionally used as mattresses and blankets;
This is why the classic dimension is approximately 400X200cm, which makes it possible to sleep on the mat and to fold it up.
A few decades ago, the use of Beni Ouarain rugs was limited to Berber tents and homes in the Middle Atlas mountains. This is definitively broken at the beginning of the 20th century under the French protectorate.
Today, Beni Ouarain rugs have become an essential part of interior decoration in Western countries and have been present in all decoration magazines since the 1970s.
BENI OUARAIN WOOL :
Beni Ouarain carpets are made of virgin wool from sheep and ewes from the herds of the Berber tribes, it is of high quality characterized by a slight shine and golden and ivory reflections. This bio-natural wool is among other things produced thanks to a breed of rustic Berber sheep considered unique in the Middle Atlas called: “Marmoucha”.
The Berber tribes of Beni Ouarain excel in the choice of a soft and silky wool, whose harvest can last several years before gathering enough to weave some carpet, which clearly explains the rarity and the value of these Berber carpets.
PATTERNS AND COLORS OF BENI OUARAIN CARPETS :
Due to the landlocked and mountainous relief of the northeast of the Middle Atlas and unlike other Berber tribes, the art of Berber carpet weaving in the tribes of Beni Ouarain has never been influenced by the decorative patterns of oriental or Arabic carpets. . Beni Ouarain Berber rugs have retained their tribal originality. Their design is made up of asymmetrical minimalist patterns in black or brown, and geometric shapes: diamonds, lines, triangles. These highly decorative designs are woven on the bottom of natural virgin wool in an ivory color.
DIMENSIONS OF BENI OUARAIN MATS :
Given that the tents of the tribes of Beni Ouarain had a rectangular shape just like the current Berber houses whose rooms are long and narrow, the carpets which had to cover the whole of the interior space of the habitat, tend to be much longer than wide. Thus, a Beni Ouarain rug more than 2.20 meters wide cannot be a real old Beni Ouarain rug.
Beni Ouarain rugs are often 4 meters long by 2 meters wide, so that their new dimensions adapt perfectly to those of contemporary Western spaces, we currently find them in all sizes. The weight can vary between 20 to 35 kg and the height of the wool is between 25mm and 40mm.
BENI OUARAIN RUGS, A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION…
The Berber carpets of the Beni Ouarain tribes are characterized by their abstract artistic style which makes their purity and their ability to adapt to all places. Many European artists were inspired by these motifs in their works such as: Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier (who combined Berber carpets with designer furniture) without forgetting Paul Klee or Mondrian as well as most of the modernist architects of the years 1920 and 1930. Beni Ouarain rugs were particularly introduced into the field of interior decoration by Henri Matisse, who renamed them "The white giants"
This is what Timothy Whealon of Timothy Whealon Interiors in New York writes about Beni Ouarain rugs :
« I don't see them as a passing trend; but rather a decorative element that will always be present in interior decoration »
« This originality is exactly what explains this intense enthusiasm of decorators to stage them in their creations. They give rooms with a cold atmosphere, an incomparable warmth and a touch of life, an ethnicity »
BENI OUARAIN IN INTERIOR DECORATION :
Charm, luxury and simplicity come together harmoniously in Beni Ouarain rugs, making them the most famous and popular Berber rugs in Morocco and around the world, becoming a true reference in terms of design and interior decoration.
These Berber beni ouarain rugs from Morocco combine a modernist taste with a minimalist tendency, with a wealth of tribal art symbols and a deeply present contemporary touch.
Being lightly overloaded with colors and patterns, Beni Ouarain rugs carefully integrate tribal graphic art into the contemporary space of many decorative styles. They enhance wooden furniture, leather lounges or any designer furniture; they were often associated with Scandinavian furniture.
Beni Ouarain rugs create an incredible atmosphere around a fireplace or a living room, the off-white color and their texture give your room an unparalleled unique look... they paradoxically combine both with neutral atmospheres and those which are traditional or contemporary, and often soothe the overloaded atmosphere of living rooms, thanks to their floor covering which gives a very chic, extremely decorative accent.
Unlike the finest rugs that bend easily and must be constantly readjusted, the thickness of Beni Ouarin rugs gives them sturdiness and enough weight to stabilize them on the ground.
PRICE OF BENI OUARAIN MATS :
Beni Ouarain rugs are generally available at reasonable prices, although antique rugs are becoming increasingly rare. Their price varies according to several criteria such as: size, quality of wool, quality and density of weaving.
Antique Beni Ouarain rugs can be very expensive and difficult to find without expert expertise. Jean-Yves SEVESTRE who is established in Marrakech is one of them. He is also a major collector and trusted exporter worldwide.
He prefers to buy Beni Ouarain rugs directly from Berber women in their own villages with a spirit of fair trade. He thus avoids intermediaries and "carpet dealers" who overvalue carpets according to fashions and trends.
IMITATIONS AND FRAUD OF BENI OUARAIN CARPETS :
Unfortunately Turkish and Chinese factories produce copies of Beni Ouarain carpets with industrial wool and can be sold at half the price of an original. It is very easy to discover the fraud by simply checking the back of the carpet, the knotting and an irregular weft are the signs of a real Beni Ouarain.
THE LOVE FOR BENI OUARAIN CARPETS CONTINUES…
For the love of art, the women Beni Ouarain rug weavers are always hard at work and are proud to make custom rugs to be exported and participate in the promotion of their beautiful country of Morocco.
BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE BENI OUARAIN TRIBES
Traditional costume of an Ait Jelidassen woman, who is one of the Beni Ouarain tribes.
HISTORY AND LIFESTYLE OF THE BENI OUARAIN TRIBES :
The semi-nomadic Beni Ouarain Berber tribes are now known worldwide for the quality of their white Berber carpets decorated with geometric shapes such as rhombuses, lines, triangles etc...
Beni Ouarain is the name of a confederation comprising 17 Berber tribes: (AhlTaida, Beni Abd el Hamid, Beni Jelidassen, Ait Ighezrane, Beni Zeggoute, Tahala, Beni Bou Zart, Zerarda and AhlTelt..etc.). They are the inhabitants of the mountains North East of the Middle Atlas, located south of the Moroccan Rif.
The origin of Beni Ouarain rugs in Morocco dates back to the 9th century with the arrival of Berber tribes certainly from southern Tunisia or northern Mauritania.
The Beni Ouarain tribes spend the summer with their herds made up of goats and sheep, on the heights of the mountains, at more than 2000 meters above sea level and descend into the grassy plains with the first snowfalls.
Thus, the flocks take full advantage of rich and abundant food throughout the year providing high quality wool to produce the most attractive carpets in the world.