There is something special about carpet weaving in the High Atlas, a mountain range in central Morocco. It is not a simple lucrative activity but a real hobby for women who weave in their free time, surrounded by their neighbors or friends.
The weaving of the Moroccan carpet is an art. It requires a certain imagination and creativity because the craftswoman creates from her head the overall scheme of the carpet decoration. She memorizes it and weaves the rug without a pattern for an imagined beauty.
Moroccan carpet "glaoui" with short weave bands - © Chwaya
High Atlas rugs are commonly known under the names of Glaoui rugs, Taznakht rugs and Ait Ouaouzguite rugs. However, there is a very wide variety. Some are made up of a multitude of fields decorated with geometric or figurative patterns, while others have a large central field decorated with a medallion. Weaving techniques also vary as some rugs are low pile and others are lockstitch.
Carpets hanging in a village in the Ourika valley, High Atlas - © Etan J. Tal
Nevertheless, the High Atlas is best known for its rugs combining three manufacturing techniques. These are knotted rugs divided into compartments separated by short weave bands, themselves embroidered. This type of carpet of great artistic richness is specific to this region of Morocco.
Moroccan carpet "glaoui" with knotted, woven and embroidered parts - © Chwaya
Moroccan rugs from the High Atlas are traditionally woven on vertical wooden looms called "asta". The craftswomen weave three to five threads and then pile them all together using a comb called a “tasaka”. After weaving an area of 2 to 3 cm, the craftswoman cuts off the excess wool with scissors specially designed to even out the height of the pile.
The knot used in the manufacture of the Moroccan carpet from the High Atlas is named after a small town in Turkey, Ghiordès. It is in fact the knot used in making carpets from Asia Minor.
The pace of weaving such rugs is very slow. Patience and passion are therefore necessary!