Boucherouite Rugs

Morocco is well known for beautiful and original hand woven wool rugs, made mostly by Berber tribes, with the weaving reflecting their creative independence and age-old traditions and beliefs. Since the middle the 20th century a new type of rug started to become better known, when Berber women started to make a variety of practical domestic carpets using a wider range of non wool materials, and began to use new non traditional styles for these pieces. Now it is found in some of the hippest homes. 

This is the Boucherouite rug, (pronounced boo-shay-REET), a word meaning in Arabic ‘a piece torn from used clothing’, or a ‘scrap’. Wonderfully extravagant in colour, these rugs make use of rag strips and yarns from recycled clothes, wool, cotton and even Lurex, sheets of plastic cut from grain-transport bags or packing materials, and nylon. Where original vegetable dyes were on the whole subtle and soft, the dyes in these scraps are much brighter and bolder. The rugs can feature asymmetrical patterning and free-form shapes based on the tribal symbols and motifs used in wool carpets, such as lozenge, small square and chevron shapes. 

Lozenges, a classical female Berber symbol, are widely used in all types of Boucherouite rugs

Lozenges, a classical female Berber symbol, are widely used in all types of Boucherouite rugs

However, unlike vintage wool pile carpets, there is little regional variation in the style of Boucherouite rugs, and on the whole they are made in a similar way and with the same range of styles all over the country.

Checkerboard motifs are commonly used in Boucherouites throughout Morocco, combined to create a huge variety of different designs

Checkerboard motifs are commonly used in Boucherouites throughout Morocco, combined to create a huge variety of different designs

They were made as very practical household items, and were often used to cover more expensive hand-made wool rugs, when families were sitting on the floor, preparing food, or for babies to play on. Like so many beautiful tribal carpets, they combine practicality with an irresistible exuberance and sense of fun and happiness. They were also created to sit on when travelling by mule or horse, and are frequently still seen as saddle covers. They are rarely very large, more commonly woven for simple every day use, yet still display a great creative vitality.

Boucherouites are cheerfully practical items, woven as simple and bright seating rugs

Boucherouites are cheerfully practical items, woven as simple and bright seating rugs

Maroc Tribal sources handmade vintage Moroccan Boucherouite rugs, buying the best authentic pieces during expeditions into Berber villages. These lovely rugs were a beautiful and resourceful way to recycle, originally produced with little thought to sell or trade them.