Beni Ourain are a relatively large group of tribes inhabiting the mountains south and east of Fez. They are best know for thick knotted pile carpets of undyed natural wool with soft off-white/beige fields and black/brown geometric designs.
Beni Ourain tribes come from the North-Eastern Middle Atlas Mountains in Morocco. The Middle Atlas region resembles a great crescent moon curving from the coastal foothills east of Casablanca past Khenifra and north to the Mount Zerhoun area above Fez.
The weavers use ”live wool” for making these carpets made from 100% sheep wool. That’s wool shorn from a sheep, rather than taking from a sheepskin after the sheep has been killed. They are soft, very cozy under foot and perfect to use in winter to bring a Scandinavian style and a warm feeling in your interior. They are made for those who appreciate truly the natural and the tribal beauty with soft colors.
Beni Ourain rugs share his signature style with geometric design. It’s a classic design of the Moroccan carpet. You can often expect to see dark brown lines and shapes on a white or cream background. You’ll also see sometimes mysterious symbols who give an exceptional charm on the rug.
The traditional knotted pile carpets and flatweaves from the Middle Atlas rely primarily on an asymmetrical format consisting of transverse panels with variations of the diamond motif. The symmetrical compositions with borders and Turkish design elements reflects the growing influence of the weaving centers on the Atlantic coast.
A Beni Ourain have almost always lozenge as geometric design. The lozenge combines the concept of the vagina, the womb (matrix), the mother’s body, or the whole female figure. The so-called Venus statuettes, the oldest representations of a human being in art, are often close in shape to an upright lozenge. By association the female form and the vulva were reduced to a single shape and merge into each other. This also explains the absence of arms and feet. The lozenge is normally upright in a pile carpet, and lies horizontally in a flat weave. Without changing its meaning, it may take on another polygonal forms through various degrees of stepping, and may become a rectangle.
Lozenge with extended sides: the sides of the lozenge may be extended beyond the top and bottom intersections, or beyond all four corners, and then form open angles. This motif may be interpreted as open (sexual) readiness of the woman. If a small element appears between the legs, this indicates a birth. The main female symbols in Berber carpets are the lozenge alone or in a network. These may be taken as the basic forms. They are also all attested in the Stone Age. They are connected structurally and symbolically.
Almost the entire range of motifs in Berber carpets is based on sex symbolism – it represents the meeting of the two sexes, pregnancy and giving birth. The theory of specific gender signs, as it was developed by the doyen Leroi-Gourhan, for ‘’European rock and mobiliary art’’, is in the main confirmed by the carpet weaving of the North African Berbers. Certain signs are even the same as those of the prehistoric periods in Europe.