Azilal rugs are single knot, hand made carpets from the Azilal province of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco. These pieces are traditionally cream with black/brown patterns, occasionally found with additional colours such as red, green and pink. While the patterns may seem whimsical and random – they are very telling of the maker.
Knotted by hand, usually by a woman – they can take up to a year to complete. The intuition, experience and fantasy of the woman weaving and knotting the rug permeate her work. The pattern and symbolism in the rug is the voice and expression of the weaver – and usually tells a rich story of her life and what is happening to her during that time.
Much of the symbolism revolves around womanhood, fertility, and marriage. Interrogation of a weaver as to the exact meaning of her symbols is fruitless– as the secret language that she applies is likely her most precious possession. This can be understood in the context of a society where women do not otherwise have a strong voice.
The main female symbols are the chevron (or V-shape), the X-shape and the lozenge (or diamond). Most of the variances in these shapes represent the woman’s body – her womb, sexual readiness, maternity and often where there are elements within or near these symbols, which indicate pregnancy and birth.
Similarly, there are also symbols for males – which are almost always straight lines, sticks, ribbons, fish bones and ladders. Not surprisingly these are imbued with phallic significance.
The way the male and female symbols interact tell the story – and the pattern of a rug can change entirely from one end to the other as the story unfolds over time.
Credits: All images are of rugs available through Kulchi.