I’m fascinated by tribal patterns. The secret language that kept a community of people connected. It’s a beautiful indulgence to have these patterns as decorations for our home, but it is part of our fascination with cultures distant from our own that is of interest. To imagine these patterns as a backdrop to our travel stories.
I plan to explore patterns and codes future on in the year but for now, I’m focusing on the patterns in the products I have in my shop. In particular the Mudcloth cushions and the Moroccan blankets.
Berber tribes are perhaps the most well known of all North African tribes. Spanning two countries these people live within the Atlas Mountains. Only descending to visit towns and cities to sell their produce. The Atlas Mountains can be a harsh place to be. Inescapably hot during the summer and bitterly cold during the winter, the same can be said for the desert which is where many tribes venture. The zigzag patterns of Zanafi tribal rugs speak of the rugged nature of the Atlas mountains.
As a constantly moving body of people, communication and storytelling amongst tribes are key. Weaving is one of the most well-known methods of communication. Patterns make up illustrative interpretations of mountainous landscapes and oceans of faraway memories. Rugs can be so beautifully woven deserve to be hung on a wall and admired. Many are woven with pretty funky coloured thread.
Fluorescent green attacking hot pink shapes may seem outrageous but it makes for a stunning one-off rug. And these are one-offs. If you are lucky enough to pick up one of these rugs cherish the years of skill contained in these pieces. Of course the most famous of the Berber rugs are the eminently present crisscrossing rugs we have all seen a million times but never get old.
I think of these pieces as stories of history we can only dream of. As you tell the story of how this rug appears in your home consider the deeper story of the meaning behind the woven designs.
When I visited Fes I met the owner of a weaving studio who produces fine silk and cotton textiles. Their products were beautiful but I wanted to mix up the colours. I had bright pink and white in my head as a nice mix. I asked the weavers to go ahead and produce a small batch for my shop.
On receipt of the blankets, I noticed that every one had a different motif woven into the middle of the blanket. When I asked about this I was told the weavers weave their own shapes. How strange I thought, don’t they follow a pattern. I now realise that this makes each blanket unique, it’s the weavers blanket, not mine. I’m merely passing it on the next owner.