The Silent Scriptures
Posted on 22 June 2017
History has shaped how we perceive each other and how we evaluate our past. So it did with carpets. Ask any person about carpets and they will, for sure, know about Persian carpets and their value. Most wealthy people tend to dress their houses with carpets linked to Persia or Anatolia. If you visit antique stores in Paris ,for example, you will see Persian carpets showcased and exposed to the buyers’ eye while the Atlas handmade ones lay on a dark side of the room ,and when asked about them, the dealer will try his best to omit the word Maghreb or Amazigh and will focus on the carpets similarities to a Kilim.
It’s still a mystery, why such beautiful handmade chef d’oeuvre aren’t given the appropriate attention and study from the rug dealers and collectors. The only one making its way toward such consideration are the Ben Ourain rugs, known for their symmetrical black triangles and white back ground. very solicited by minimalistic designers. While the real northern African signature rugs stay on the back burner waiting on a chance to shine and share their exquisite uniqueness with the world.
Most rug buyers and dealers in Northern Africa have turned into answering the European markets’ demands instead of making an effort to introduce the unsymmetrical, savage, color daring designs the Atlas mountains’ tribes have been making for as long as they can remember.
The Amazigh carpets require a certain degree of curiosity and a longing to decipher the micro and macro symbols they hold within their design. They all convey a message and share a story. The lack of studies/interest on the subject had transformed the rug industry in Northern Africa into a chain factory whereby rugs are made using the known patterns without considering the meaning behind each one of them.
While rug weaving was a woman’s job, where she can tell a story she only knew and understands, today’s rug weaving shops use these women as automated workers who execute designs made by the shop’s owner according to what’s popular in the market. The core essence of an Amazigh rug is loosing its essence and transforming a millennial intimate trade into a chain factory.
Nevertheless, we noticed an ongoing effort by a small group of collectors coming into the conclusion of how exquisite and rare are the Amazigh carpets, they launched an effort to buy all the original pieces they can find. Our artisans back in Khenifra can name everyday by the kind of collector showing up for that day’s auction. We witnessed the entire scenario and we are alarmed by the fact that some pieces are so rare that unless the buyer agrees to share pictures of them, we won't be able to study them or reproduce them using the same exact techniques and materials used by the original weaver.
We have been studying the symbology of the Northern African rugs for the last 8 years, and we still at awe of how much we learned and how much we still have to learn in order to deliver a product that responds to an authentic Amazigh carpet. Women are an essential element if not THE essential element to deliver an authentic carpet. Their imagination, involvement, and family history has to be an essential part to the entire process as well as the rituals involved on the making of the rug. The entire process has to follow to a T every single step used by their ancestors and has to give women unlimited freedom to come up with a symbolically coherent story that they want to tell the rest of the world without being vocal or explicit about what they would like to share.
The Amazighen carpets are beautiful art pieces’, not only because of their design, patterns or colors, but also because of their hidden iconographical messages. When you look at such rugs, you can read an entire story, sometimes the weaver exposes several scenarios of how her story will end. It’s a majestic sense of tribal identity and an expression of her womanhood.
Rug weaving in the Atlas Mountains is considered a vital aspect of daily life, it was never intended to be a hobby or a way of making money. It’s literally a secret language that only women understand and pass down to their daughters. In order for such a tradition to survive, we oughta help these women express themselves throughout their carpets, using them as labor or to execute a design made by someone else is sacrilege to their millennial traditions and long-time preserved way of life.