The Ultimate Guide to Moroccan Azilal Rugs: What You Need to Know
Crafted by Berber artisans. Curated by decor enthusiasts
I discovered Moroccan Azilal rugs when I began studying ancient Moroccan history. What I learned is the Azilal region has its own signature carpet design that I have never seen or heard before. In fact, they still remain a secret to most people today, which we will explore more later.
What Is a Moroccan Azilal Rug?
Moroccan Azilal rugs are a type of Berber rug from the provincial capital of central Morocco in the High Atlas Mountains about 180 km from Marrakech. They are made from pure sheep wool mixed with cotton and horizontally woven using a gridded line of knots.
The Azilal carpets are becoming more popular as a trendsetting alternative to the better-known Beni Ourain rugs. It is interesting to note this stylish textile tribal variation has remained a secret until recently. Carpets from the Azilal province were almost completely unknown to the market until the later part of the 20th century.
The vibrant culture of creativity is alive and well in this area which is why everyone loves these handwoven colorful carpets so much.
Let's dive even deeper into who makes these wonderful creations, what makes them unique, how they are made, and how to care for them well.
Who Makes Azilal Rugs?
The Berber tribal women of Azilal Morocco design and create Azilal Moroccan carpets and rugs exclusively. They are used for domestic purposes and playfully use mostly shapes and color variations in their original floor covering creations. The family living rooms are filled with beautiful rug art that makes every home interior unique.
Since these rugs are made by the matriarchs of the family, each one is the pride of the home. It may have taken several months to years of dedicated hand-woven work to make. The tribal weaving tradition demonstrates the value of home-making virtues within the family unit that each mother passes down to her children.
Exert effort, you shall be rewarded. - Moroccan Proverb
In the most traditional sense, Moroccan tribal weavings are made exclusively by women and only for personal use in the home.
What Makes Azilal Rugs So Unique?
The aboriginal patterns using traditional nomadic Berber tribal motifs and color palettes make Azilal carpets truly one-of-a-kind. The cultural traditional weaving techniques passed down from generation to generation are a little different from those used to create Beni Ourain rugs.
The rug weavers use virgin wool to create alternate rows of single-knotted lines with one or two braided lines. The result is a shorter rug with a soft velvety texture that feels heavenly under your feet.
Bold colors embellish every carpet using all-natural tinted wool and colored cotton threads. The back and base of the rug is usually a white or cream color adorning the natural color of undyed wool.
The meaning of every design represents femininity and family tribal history. The intricate use of symbolic pattern characteristics using archaic symbols and images represent ancestral myths and playful storytelling. It is not uncommon to see very whimsical artistic designs in their work.
Much of this was born out of a lack of written language. The ancient Berber weavers found creative ways to incorporate their expressions and record their heritage visually.
The Azilal Rug-Making Tradition
Every carpet is handmade by craftswomen who collect soft sheep's wool native to the Azilal region. It is then cleansed in the river with saponary plants and left out under the stars for one night to keep the evil eye away.
The wool is dyed in bright colors using regional flowers and vegetation. The Azilal is known for using simple geometric shapes with the plushness of a heavier carpet pile. The dyed and undyed wool that is used tends to be finer in texture, producing a lustrous cloth-like feel.
Owning the remarkable beauty of a carpet created using this ancestral Berber tradition is an honor to display in your home. Just make sure it is authentic and not machine-made.
How to Recognize Azilal Rugs
You can identify the characteristics of Azilal rugs from Morocco by the combination of bright colors used in Boucherouite rugs with the interesting patterns found in Beni Ourain rugs. Bold geometric tribal designs are almost always used on a cream or white background. The true charm of these weaving often portrays abstract compositions without symmetry using random color combinations.
Check the bottom of the rug for authenticity where you should find the natural hue of white or cream. These major elements are how you can tell it is real Moroccan craftsmanship steeped in Azilal rug history.
Why Choose a Vintage Moroccan Azilal Rug?
The exquisite rug art of the Azilal people are highly sought after to adorn homes and living spaces across the world. They are made exclusively by the most talented Berber women of the region.
The Azilal carpets are like abstract paintings that add a rustic Bohemian charm and ethnic touch to your farmhouse, boho, contemporary, or vintage interior decor. These masterpieces are investment pieces that grow in value over time.
Unlike cheap machine-made rugs that don't last very long, the Azilal rugs last for decades saving you money. You will want to pass these handmade Moroccan rugs on to your children preserving the legacy.
What Is the Best Decorating Style for Azilal Moroccan Rugs?
These handmade carpets fit just about any home interior decoration style. Modern, farmhouse boho, Bohemian, boho chic, ethnic chic, mod, mid-century, retro, eco, traditional, and kinfolk are just a few that can easily show off the splendor of Azilal Moroccan rugs. A pile-woven rug can add subtle Moroccan decor to your home if you are experimenting with it for the first time.
How To Style Your Azilal Rug
Hand-knotted authentic Moroccan rugs can range in artistic design from dense graphic patterns using brightly saturated shades to the more natural muted tones of monochrome.
Try choosing a rug with accents that bring out the colors of your wall, decor, and furniture. Make a more colorful Moroccan rug the focal point of a room by using neutral furnishings. The neutral-toned versions are more versatile grounding rooms in both calm minimalist and colorful maximalist styles.
But why stop there? A fun bold rug can be paired easily with a vibrant interior for a more free-spirited look.
How To Pick The Perfect Moroccan Rug
The last thing you want to do is pick a Moroccan rug based on the size or convenience. Every Azilal carpet is a piece of art.
Buying vintage Moroccan Berber rugs is like shopping for a painting. Let your heart guide you. See what speaks to you and stirs your soul. Imagine what it will feel like daily in your space if it truly moves you. Surround yourself with the beauty that withstands the test of time and gets you excited to live fully each day.
How to Care for Your Azilal Rug
Shake your rug outside once a week to get rid of dust and debris. Wool loves the sun so don't be afraid to leave it in the sunshine for a day once a year.
Try not to vacuum your rug very often. This can damage the fibers and wear down the knots faster. Use a suction attachment on your vacuum cleaner instead of a rotary vacuum. Vacuuming just once a month is enough for the top of the rug. Flip the rug over and vacuum the back to remove grit from the rug foundation every few months.
Wash your throw rug every 3 to 5 years using a mild detergent, or get it professionally hand-washed. Do not take it to get steam cleaned or dry-cleaned. This can permanently damage your rug!
Stay mindful of the art on your floor. Flip it around and completely over once in a while to help it wear evenly. The back is just as beautiful as the front so don't be afraid to let it show.
Where to Buy Vintage Azilal Rugs
Azilal vintage Berber rugs display the wisdom and elegance of the women weavers that only gets better with age. The maturing process allows the softening of colors and the natural Lanolin oil of the wool fibers to extract, producing a beautiful finish.
They are a true magnum opus and important work of living art. Use these exotic centerpieces to give your room the essence of grounded beauty.
Believe it or not, the imperfections often found in a vintage Moroccan carpet give it character while increasing its value. The color fading, variations in line thickness, imperfect shapes, asymmetry, and unusual borders make each work of art unique.
My company, Coco Carpets, has the loveliest selection of the highest quality handmade vintage Moroccan Azilal rugs available to buy. Each unique piece has been discovered only by traveling around the Azilal region to meet with the weavers. Your purchase not only brings ancient historical art into your space, but the proceeds help support the Azilal people.
Thank you for taking the journey with me and I can't wait for our next rug art exploration together through the magnificent North African country of Morocco.