Rich Red Zaiane Carpets

This is quite a personal piece, as it’s all about the carpets I knew as a boy in Morocco. Khenifra is a city in northern central Morocco, surrounded by the Middle Atlas Mountains and located on the Oum Er-Rbia River. It’s my city.

Around this region, the Zaiane Berber tribes (a confederation that consists of a dozen or more tribes) wove distinctive thick knotted pile carpets that were created to be warm and cosy. Dominated by the use of bold and blood red wool, and occasionally dark blue and brown, these were the carpets I grew up with. This also explains why our collection contains a lot of these lovely and exquisitely crafted carpets!

Two original vintage Zaiane carpets in  our collection  ;  one with a complex, overflowing design the other with undulating shades of red and small diamond moitfs

Two original vintage Zaiane carpets in our collection; one with a complex, overflowing design the other with undulating shades of red and small diamond moitfs

These lovely carpets were made to be used as bedding as well as floor coverings, which accounts for their relatively square dimensions. They are unique in that artistically the weavers saw the pile (woolly) side of the carpet as the back of the carpet, and the flat side as the front. You can see glorious and complex designs and narratives by turning the carpet over. And the pile side will often be wonderfully shaggy, slightly obscuring the composition. This is a very special design approach that I mostly only see in carpets from the Zaiane tribes.

My mum still turns her carpets over on the summer, so she can sit on the cooler, flat side when the weather is warm!

Bold red pile carpets seen in Architectural Digest (left), in Amanda Chantal Bacon's home in Venice Beach California (centre) and the Los Angeles Home OF designer Liseanne Frankfurt. Photo credits to the owners

Bold red pile carpets seen in Architectural Digest (left), in Amanda Chantal Bacon's home in Venice Beach California (centre) and the Los Angeles Home OF designer Liseanne Frankfurt. Photo credits to the owners

Originally these carpets were made for personal and domestic use by the different ethnic groups most of whom were semi-nomadic. Now most tribes are settled, yet bold graphic Zaiane rugs can still be seen in Berber homes – the pile side facing upwards in the winter for warmth.

Vintage Zaiane rugs in a Ashe + Leandro interior

Vintage Zaiane rugs in a Ashe + Leandro interior

What’s so distinct and beautiful about these red rugs is they often contain large diamond motifs, frequently with smaller and half diamonds embedded within the design. They also often feature lovely rectangular designs as the border, or have thick black or dark brown selvedges, ensuring the carpets would last many lifetimes.

A soft and glossy Zaiane rug in the Maroc Tribal collection, with an unusal unstructred design

A soft and glossy Zaiane rug in the Maroc Tribal collection, with an unusal unstructred design

I'm so proud of our collection of vintage Zaiane rugs - it feels like its a part of my own history.

Mo

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