The Roles of Weaving in the Livelihood of Amazigh Women
A woman’s status in the Amazigh community can be noticeably seen in various leading roles and responsibilities. Yet, The recorded history of Amazighs (Berbers) hardly mentions women. This is in contrast to the Amazigh culture, in which women are highly regarded and appreciated. Based in the rural High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, these women have always relied on weaving tribal textiles to portray their nature and tribal lifestyle. A gateway from the everyday marital routine, as well as a way to express themselves artistically in an environment where art has no regard.
Introducing Amazigh Women
There is no denying that Amazigh women are the real artists. Sometimes, it only takes one look at the art in order to understand the artist. Amazigh women express art in various crafts that manifested the Amazigh display for millennia, one of which is weaving. Weaving is a handmade craft that women specifically constructed in the Amazigh culture as an important part of them was demonstrated through textile weaving. By introducing the Amazigh rug to the world, a great interest in the Amazigh culture and tradition followed, resulting in a global footprint that helped in mainstreaming their rug.
The Relationship Between Women and Weaving
It is known that visual expression far predates any form of written record. The shapes, lines, colors, and meanings of Amazigh rugs tell powerful stories and carry them for the next generations. Whether it is taking a rug and converting it into a series of wool colors, or creating a shape that you would never expect to see, women dominate the weaving practice for truly giving life to rugs. In rural areas of the High Atlas Mountains, they single-handedly comb, spin, and dye wool for rugs that they hand weave on vertical looms. Wool is considered to be imbued with considerable blessing because of the many items that can be crafted using it, and some of this blessing is believed to be transferred to the weavers. To put it the least, their hard work puts our many relatively small problems into questioning.
Ensuring the Tradition's Continuity
Of course, this art is a source of pride and self-expression before anything. It also ensures continuity and fosters the culture to the generations ahead. Through mother-daughter transmission, Amazigh women link the past with the present by adopting specific motifs and symbols into their work. A sacred responsibility toward keeping and passing down the knowledge and experience that goes into making rugs, including looping techniques, the use of color, and the secrets behind tribal patterns and motifs.
Amazigh women perceive weaving as a great means of maintaining and perpetuating financial stability in the family. The absence of a high standard of living pushes these women to contribute financially as much as they can, hence securing a reliable source of income is crucial. That's when weaving steps in. After the recent popularity of Moroccan Amazigh rugs, the idea of weaving rugs for domestic purposes has long changed and developed into becoming a solid source of income for most of the women living in the rural regions.
Additionally, the internet offered Amazigh women new possibilities to promote the Moroccan rug, enabling their innovative expressions to gain expanded access to whole new audiences beyond the traditional boundaries of the artisanal world. But adapting to the digital age is not an easy task for those used to traditional methods and rural lifestyles. Yet it’s thanks to new digital tools such as online marketplaces that these women can now find and contribute to their families and community.
Good things don't come easy. Amazigh women are a great example of ethically and culturally conscious craftsmen and their values and dedication can be applied to any kind of craft. These highly skilled artisans make everything on-site and by hand. A process that ensures every rug is unique while carrying intangible cultural heritage.
Start exploring far-flung design destinations, the newest boutique hotels, and well-designed bars and restaurants perfect for the modern jetsetter.