The Southern Rugs of Taznakht
The history of the Moroccan High Atlas is still engraved on the walls of its Kasbahs and drawn on its rugs. These rugs elegantly replicate the warm sunny shades of the Sahara desert, introducing an original Maghreb ambiance to many homes.
The door of the desert Ouarzazate and beyond, going south towards Zagora and Tinerhir, is where the Moroccan rugs known as “Tazarbit” or “Zarbiya El Ouaouzguitya” are woven. Ait Ouazguit is the confederation of the tribes that occupy all the territory between Ouarzazate and Taznakht.
A small town in Ouarzazate province called Taznakht produces soft luminous rugs with traditional designs, an earthy palette of colors, pure sheep wool, and meaningful symbols that transmit the Berber art’s script and rhythm.
Through this blog, we are taking you to the heart of the Moroccan desert where rugs weaving plays an important role.
The Town Of Taznakht
At the crossroads of the High Atlas mountain and Djebel Siroua, 280 km from Agadir, Taznakht is perched on the ancient volcanic rocks of the Drâa-Tafilalet region. It has splendid desert landscapes, clay houses, and palm groves.
Taznakht has a desert climate which implies scarce well water. Therefore, its land has only scattered spiny plants and weeds most of the year.
However, the grazing prospers, and the grass grows abundantly during the rainy seasons. Taznakht then becomes the sheep shepherding destination of all the neighboring tribes like the Ighzdis sector.
Named after the Anti-Atlas mountain, Siroua is the sheep breed of Taznakht, renowned for the premium quality of its deep black or all-white wool. It is homogeneous,clean, and soft to the touch.
Rugs weaving has been anchored in the identity of Taznakht for ages. It is the primary occupation of local people that have passed it down to their children for generations. Unsurprisingly, Taznakht is considered the point of reference for rugs production in North Africa, with nearly 22,000 employed weavers.
A large community in Taznakht still lives the traditional way where women make rugs, and men sell them at the Souk to buy raw rug materials and provide for the family. In the weekly market, the villagers of Tazenakht and the surrounding tribes sell their handmade artisanal crafts.
How Taznakht Rugs Are Made
High Atlas rugs have the specialty of combining three weaving techniques; knotting, flat weaving, and embroidery. Some regions use the method of symmetrical knot weaving on two threads.
The weaving technique of Taznakht rugs is perfected to the extreme by strong warp and weft threads. They are densely knotted to make a sturdy background fabric with wool-sewed patterns. A good rug can have up to 50,000 knots per square meter.
These marvelous rugs often mix five colors; black, white, orange, navy blue, and yellow. They are all-natural, extracted from Henna, Saffron, and other sun-dried coloring plants.
Taznakht weavers also make the Hanbal that sometimes replaces rugs. It is lighter and less thick, usually used as a blanket, sofa, travel bag, or decoration in weddings and national holidays.
Weaving Is The Silent Language of Taznakht
In Taznakht, the weaving process is completed by a set of tribal practices. Women perform the different steps of setting up the loom, weaving, knotting the rug, and putting the final touches with orchestrated rituals and songs. Even today, some natives consider wool a gift from heaven that brings luck and abundance.
For the local illiterate women who lack written language, rugs weaving became a scroll, their only outlet to the external world. They skillfully master the craft at very early ages from their mothers and grandmothers.
Taznakht rugs vary in patterns. They can be decorated with diamonds, Amazigh letters, crosses, squares, or sketches of the natural and cultural environment. Some of the repetitive figures represent imaginary drawings.
It is astonishing to know that some of these motifs, like rhombus, chevrons, and X shapes, are also found in the form of abstract signs in European rock art, bones, and horns dating from 30,000 to 10,000 years BC. Like a leitmotif, Taznakht Berber rugs still conserve these analogical symbols.
Check out our collection of hand-knotted original rugs from Morocco and Turkey.