Women Weavers OnLine
Many of you have probably seen my experiment in helping some Moroccan women weavers to sell their products directly on the Internet. It grows out of my wish to work more directly with Moroccan women artisans. While one young woman does embroidery for me and I buy from several female middlemen, I have a long-term goal of helping the women themselves get online and have access to a world market and keep for themselves the profit that I and other middlemen make. Thus all rugs in the Women Weavers OnLine section are non-profit. The village women set the price they want to receive for their rug, and I add Moroccan handling and shipping, plus in N'kob something for the school and the village developement association. I donate my labor and make nothing. In October 2001 I was able to take a first step working directly with women in this way, and in 2002 and 2003 I expanded the experiment.
In the sections that follow, you can see rugs, the women who wove them, and learn a bit about their families and how they use their profits. If you buy a rug, you can print out the weaver's photo and "bio", and display them near your rug as a reminder of just where it came from. These rugs are now in the weavers' homes in Morocco. You order them through me, and I contact Morocco and send them the money. Insurance and airmail shipping are included in the prices, and delivery will take about 3-6 weeks.
Eventually I would like to work in several areas of Morocco, each with a different weaving style. For now I'm beginning in two areas. One is the village of N'kob in the High Atlas Mountains of southern Morocco, where they make five kinds of rugs. The other area is Ben Smim in the Middle Atlas Mountains where they make at least five variations of rugs or coverlets or wall hangings, plus pillows. There are many photos in each directory at the bottom of this page, of both the women and their products from both areas. Just click a village name at the bottom of this page to see many pieces. But for anyone in a hurry, immediately below is a quick overview of weaving styles in the two areas so you can go directly to the one you prefer. Click on the small photo to see it larger. All of the pieces here are described in more detail in the N'kob (High Atlas) or Ben Smim (Middle Atlas) sections. Each is for sale, listed by the same number as here.
The High Atlas - N'kob
The High Atlas weavers make flatweave rugs, which we sometimes call kilims, and pile or knotted rugs, plus combinations of the two. The colors are often rich reds and blues with gold accents. Some styles use much black and white, sometimes with accents in colors made from vegetable dyes.
Piece 2.11451 is probably the oldest style of these rugs, though a few are still woven today. They are called chedwis, and are flatweaves with plain black and white stripes, patterned black and white stripes made in a different technique called twining, and stripes with colors that often come from natural dyes. Although merchants will often tell you all their rugs are made with natural dyes, that is very rare in Morocco, and these pieces are among the few that use them.
Piece 2.11432 is a flatweave piece called an akhnif. It has woven areas in red and blue, plus smaller designs that are embroidered onto the rug.
Piece 2.11437 is a recent innovation, a flatweave with different color squares separated by rows of pile or knots.
Piece 1.10905 combines flatweave, pile, and a technique called twining. The flatweave is usually black or white, but on this piece its the plain red and blue stripes. The twining is a black and white pattern, and the pile makes a colorful pattern. You can see these different weaves more clearly by clicking on the photo.
Piece 3.13579 is a pile rug in the Tazenakht style, probably the best-known style from this area. It has the traditional rich red and blue in it, plus gold accents. One characteristic of the rugs here is their rich colors, so different from the flat colors you see in many shops.
Piece 3.13590 is also a pile rug in the Tazenakht style, but it's especially fine. I left the mountains in the photo because it seems they inspired some of the rug's colors.
The Middle Atlas - Ben Smim
In the Middle Atlas they also make flatwoven and pile rugs, but usually do not combine the two. Their flatwoven rugs may have an overall pattern of large diamonds, or of plain colored stripes interspersed with design stripes. The pile rugs often can be used on two sides, the flat one in the summer and the fuzzy one for warmth in the winter. They also make pillows with designs like the rug patterns. A unique characteristic is that they trim many pieces with sequins....for which some people do not share their taste. They are sewn onto the rugs, not woven in, and can be removed without harming the structure of the rugs.
Piece 3.13073 is an example of a flatwoven piece with an overall design of large diamonds (a favorite motif) accented with sequins.
Piece 2.12277 is a close-up of another flatwoven piece with sequins, with the typical colors of black and white dominating and accents in red and green.
Piece 3.6066 shows the other main pattern of the area, plain bands interspersed with design bands in white and colors, again with sequins.
Piece 3.6048 is a classic style of flatweave with soft colors and without sequins.
Piece 3.12881 is an example of a pile rug in red, here seen from the "flat" side. People use that side in the summer, and the pile side in the winter for warmth.
Piece 3.12912 is a woman's cape or bedspread (you can use it either way, or as a wall hanging) in wool and cotton and sequins. These pieces incorporate a fringe so have some pile.
Piece 2.12539 is the face of a pillow with a black and white diamond design with sequins. The backs are usually totally different (so you get two designs of weaving in one piece) as you can see here.
Piece 3.6076 is a pillow with few sequins and more colors, again in a diamond
To see these pieces and many more, click on one of the village names below.
N'kob - High Atlas
Ben Smim - Middle Atlas