It's undeniable. Moroccan tribal rugs are definitely having a moment in Toronto, as they have in many other global cities for a long time. Some have transitioned from trend to straight up modern classic—I'm looking at you Beni Ourain—and others are well on their way. If you haven't delved into the dusty, washed out colours and imperfect symmetry of the rugs from the Beni M'Guild tribe, I suggest you take a look at our 2017 Summer Collection. Beni M'guilds bridge the gap between the impressionistic tribal rugs, and the more composed city rugs, such as the ones originating from Fez or Rabat.
MOROCCAN TRIBAL RUGS VS. MOROCCAN CITY RUGS
MOROCCAN TRIBAL RUGS
Moroccan tribal rugs have been woven since the Paleolithic era. These rugs were woven by various indigenous North African Berber tribes, and weren't used exclusively as floor coverings. They were also used as bedding, tent walls, and saddlebags. The symbols on tribal rugs are mysterious and ancient. Every tribe has unique symbols and techniques, but of course there is overlap between tribes, and it can be difficult to ascertain exactly what tribe's rug you're looking at. There is such a diversity of tribal rugs that it's impossible to distill it in one short article from a humble Toronto rug shop. Put it this way: when someone says "Moroccan Rug" the image that pops into your mind will be one of a Moroccan tribal rug.
MOROCCAN CITY RUGS
In general, there are two different types: Fez and Rabata. Both are influenced by Arab weaving culture, which was starting to take hold in the 7th century CE, during the Arab conquest of the Maghreb. These rugs are highly composed, display floral and diamond motifs, and are reminiscent of Turkish or Middle Eastern rugs. The are quite a bit stiffer than the tribal rugs, and the wefts are often cotton or linen. You can picture a musty old one in your granny's house—although some of the really washed out distressed ones are pretty cool and postmodern.
A TORONTO RUG STORE WEIGHS IN
After a vigorous debate, and a vote that came right down the wire, we have to say that we prefer the Moroccan tribal rugs. They fit in well with modern design, have less pungent colours, and have more diversity in size and look. Beni Ourains were our gateway rug, and now we're hooked on Rehamnas, Beni M'Guilds, and Zaianes as well, and no 12-Step program is going to free us from the shackles of this horrible, yet enjoyable addiction.
We learned a lot from our travels in Morocco, although sometimes the salesmen try to bullshit you. One must be vigilant in such matters, but more important, educate yourself about the rugs. We found the book "Moroccan Carpets," by Brooke Pickering to be an excellent overview and an invaluable resource about both Moroccan city and tribal rugs. "Moroccan Carpets" can purchased in Toronto at our store, for anyone interested.
WHERE CAN I PURCHASE SAID RUGS IN TORONTO
We have a cool rug store named Mellah at 1090 College St. in Toronto, Canada, where you can see the rugs in person. We can also ship them anywhere in Canada, or the world.