In the heart of the mountainous regions of the Moroccan Atlas, Berber shepherds raise their sheep outdoors, in small flocks. Once the first heat arrives, the animals are freed from the thick wool. At the end of winter, this disturbs them and harms their well-being. Cutting with scissors is done in the traditional way.
Then the natural wool is washed and eroded on the stone by the river, and then dried in the sun. The wool is then brushed, combed and hand-squared to detangle and fan the fibers, remove residual impurities, and create a smooth, regular look. The Berber women then take their wooden spindle to spin the wool by hand, squeezing the fibers between their fingers. Patient and meticulous work is done by hand. Once finished spinning, the wool displays its natural color, light brown, gray, brown or black, and dyeing can interfere.
Handmade Carpets – Natural Carpets – Weaving Tools
Wool is boiled in large pots containing plants. Each plant and mixture of plants gives a certain color. For half an hour, the wool is turned with a stick, then dried and exposed to the open air, in front of the weavers’ homes. After two to three days, the wool is ready to weave.
The weavers collect the wool on a loom, all in delicate handiwork. First, wrap the wire around two stakes. The distance between them will determine the size of the rug. This process requires three women to enter: one for each session, and a third alternating between the bets. We get a horizontal grid. Then this weft is placed on the loom and turned over to create a vertical weft that will serve as the base of the carpet. This assembly by hand produces a weft placed on the loom: the frame is ready to receive the ends of the pre-cut threads.
Traditional Burberry loom – for handmade and natural carpets
The carpet is made of a weft and a knot of wool, the Berber knot in particular. The stitching process is done very quickly, and each wool rug requires several weeks, up to a few months of work, with a daily progression of one or two centimeters. When finished, wash the carpet several times and dry it in the sun. The density of the knots, the patterns, the symbols, the colors, and the shape of each rug are specific to the traditions of each tribe.
Berber women make carpets at home, according to ancestral art, craftsmanship and ecology, while respecting the environment. Carpet making is an environmentally responsible activity: it constitutes the main income of these families in the highlands of the Middle Atlas. A know-how passed on from one generation to the next. Weavers are also able to replicate patterns for custom orders, which can often lead them to weave by taking on a pre-defined pattern or working with designers who create bespoke Burberry rugs.