Notes from the road from Maroc Tribal – Buying Vintage Berber Rugs
We’ve returned from one of our big buying trips into the mountains in the north and down to the edges of the desert in the south. As usual, it is one half of Maroc Tribal, Mo, who leads these lengthy expeditions, and it is he who has the best eye for the painstaking originality that is at the heart of a handmade tribal carpet’s desirability. Both Arabic and Berber language are mother tongue for him, and he speaks with weavers and their families to understand the history of each carpet and the tribe. We buy Berber carpets in a very personal way, with long trips into the country, avoiding cities that are thick with carpet sharks. It also means we can pay families directly and fairly.
As poor-quality copies continue to invade the market, we are looking for the earthy evocation of true creative spirt and the finest weaving skills showcased in traditional Berber carpets. With each year that passes, this becomes harder to find. We visit different regions, where each tribe weaves a different style according to the Berber cultural traditions of that area and the weaver’s own creativity. You can see this huge variation in the wide range of carpets and textiles we bring to our website. We particularly desire rugs that have been produced exclusively for personal use.
Often, a trip means travel on a mule; at other times, its walking to reach isolated Berber villages. Berber families are unfailingly welcoming and generous with what they have, always offering tea and bread and usually food and a bed for the night. Some traditional Berber homes are built with wood and mud, and with a lit stove, they are the cosiest places to spend the night.
We travel back slowly from these trips, and then each carpet is hand washed in water and dried in the sun. Then, the carpet undergoes any restoration that is required. Of course, it is likely that original vintage carpets that have been well-loved family items may have some damage, little drops of wax from candles, or henna spots from where women have sat to paint their hands and feet. We repair what we can, but leave the rest as a sign of a well lived life.
It can take days before we’re ready to pack each carpet and send them on to the next stage in their long lives – their journey to London – following which they are shipped worldwide to their new owners
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