“Berber style” rugs:  Real/Fake Moroccan rug?

“Berber style” rugs: Real/Fake Moroccan rug?

Moroccan berber rugs have long been despised and copied without any consideration by European industry. It was not until the 1900's that many artists took an interest in them and gave them back their full value. We could cite amongst others Paul Klee's paintings with geometric shapes and the integration of these forms into architecture by Le Corbusier. Henri Matisse referred to them as the "white giants".

In recent years, they have the wind in their sails, especially Beni Ouarain carpets. All decorative brands make copies and sell "Berber style" rugs. Faced with this popular success, followers of trends are starting to get tired.

I was discussing some craftsmanship issues with local artisans and a few of them who follow the market development expressed their concern and anger against fake Berber carpets sold by major international retailers under the Berber Style Carpet name. 

I was puzzled when I discovered that few big retail website –naming no names- which, through a flock of "Influencers", were promoting Berber Style rugs produced in Easter Europe and Asia. These carpets were made sometimes from wool, but also, for the cheapest, from polypropylene

Some mass marketing gurus will argue: "Never mind, we'll say it's anti-mite so the plebs will see that as an advantage".

If I was with bad spirit, I would say it's anti-mite because even mites think polypropylene is crap. But today is yoga class at the neighbor's house and the positive waves have reached my keyboard.  

I breathe with my stomach before continuing this post. I can barely imagine the shame that should be felt by the designers of those big stores when they ply the multi-secular crafts of proud and nomadic people.  So today I sincerely try to find inner peace and to tell you about the real benefits of those fake Berber rugs.


Authentic moroccan rug


The Berber style polypropylene rug is anti-allergenic and anti-mite


That's right; virgin wool is nothing but the hair of an animal. Moths love it and maybe if I examined my Beni Ouaraines microscopically I would find uninviting microscopic monsters. So yes, if you hate small animals the choice of polypropylene may not be unreasonable.

On the other hand, polypropylene is not a product free all reproach. Its production by the petrochemical industry has probably killed many more polar bears than the sheep of Moroccan Atlas. 

Mostly the polypropylene fiber gets the worst ratings of the fire reaction  (combustible and highly flammable!) in addition to its toxicity. For comparison the wood is M2 (hardly flammable…).

Also know that wool (at least the one used on authentic Moroccan Berber rugs) is from the mowing of a healthy animal that is not killed but pampered because it will produce beautiful wool each season. Well, of sometimes we eat some for Eid. But the vast majority of Moroccan sheep are bred for wool and milk.


The Berber style rug is cheaper than the authentic Berber rug​

Let us first distinguish the fake Berber rugs that make the effort to be woolen from those made of polypropylene. 

For polypropylene, it is certain that there is no picture. For a fake Beni Ouarain of 2m x 3m polypropylene you will pay $250 with free shipping and excluding promotion. That is less than $50 per m2. Suffice to say that we do not know how to do this with real Beni Ouarain new or vintage virgin wool first mowing.

But if you go up a bit in range at those big stores you will find Berber style wool carpets. So by relieving you of $500 you will have pompously called carpets in wool at $100 per square meter which is 10 to 25% cheaper than the real Beni Ouarain. 

I was able to touch some … Let's be honest, it's a good dope. The wool is industrial, probably coming from New Zealand, and does not have as much charm or silky as the artisanal one of a vintage Beni Ouarain. But it's wool and it's okay. Some new carpets made in Morocco are probably also made with the factory wool can also be exported. It's like a country chicken Tagine with olives made with a supermarket cooked chicken. It's cheaper, it's not bad … It's just less tasty. I can not say that the rug is ugly, that would dishonest. It's just that that I find it unattractive, I would dare say without a soul.

On the one hand I understand people who think to make a good compromise by saving $200 on his wool carpet. It's a decent amount. Let's say it's the price to waive authenticity? 

But on the other hand I can't help but think that for the same price as the fake one, this person could have had a real Beni Ouarain a bit smaller or a real Boucherouite bigger or, maybe with a little patience and luck, a very beautiful Azilal rug.

Thanks anyway to the Berber style rug​

What made me upset at the very beginning was the plagiarism! I was angry to know that uninspired designers were stealing the creations of a whole culture just to ride a pseudo wave of ethnic design. 

I was angry too because my young cousin had been fined several hundreds of Euros in Charles de Gaulle airport because she was returning from Morocco with a fake Luis-Vuitton Handbag and a watch that had nothing from Channel but the name.

So Moroccan craftsmen would not have the right to copy luxury leather goods but the multinationals could shamelessly plunder the crafts of others. I write this for Berber rugs and this is also trure for fake Dream Catcher Indians though. 

But Stop! Abdominal breathing, inner pace, Namaste, hello to the sun… let's open our minds to positive thinking… We have customers who adopt Bohemian Chic interior precisely because they first had a fake Berber rug. 

I came to believe that without the admirable work of those top-floor corporations they would never have heard of Moroccan craftsmanship!

Instead of grumbling and putting spanners in the works, let's thank big brands because, by copying they promote in some way.

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