The rainbow of colors are in-your-face-bold, sassy, and audacious. The rugs are extravagant and almost 1970’s in their crazy-colored disco vibe, resembling the bright, sunny ribbons of a spring Mayday pole.
Boucherouite rugs, pronounced ‘bu-sher-weat’; the asymmetrical, so-called ‘heavy metal’ of Moroccan carpets, (because of their whimsical look) are a relatively new wonder in this mystical land. The word ‘boucherouite’ means ‘scrap’ or ‘used clothing’ in local Darija, as the rugs are entirely repurposed from various eclectic materials.
Popping up in the early 20th century after a drop in the availability of expensive wools used to weave traditional Moroccan rugs, the boucherouites, in the past few years alone, have become somewhat of a trendy commodity.
Boucherouites can be composed of anything and everything salvaged, in terms of materials-recycled cotton, wool, nylon, and even repurposed plastic and leather. The brighter the shade, the better. Various shapes and sizes make these rugs the mish-mash of Moroccan carpets. The end result absolutely guarantees that you will never find another one exactly like it. Custom recycling at it’s greatest!
You will now find these funky, often thick-shag, quilt-like, spunky-tinged boucherouites in the coolest of New York City penthouses and LA studios. Ironically, these rugs were initially considered the ‘poor man’s rug’ in Morocco-carpets that were utilitarian in their need; used to cover donkeys, horse saddles, or placed over expensive woolen rugs in Moroccan-tiled homes in order to protect the costlier under-carpet.
Never too large in size due to their practical usage, boucherouites are still relatively reasonably-priced compared to the globally-known woolen kilim rugs or the famous cream and black-colored Beni Ourain Berber rugs. Ever-practical, the durable boucherouites are still used in rugged terrains throughout pastoral Morocco to protect from the severe cold during blustery, snowy winters.
Rural Moroccan women, the heart and soul of talented rug weavers in lovely Morocco, are the phenomenon behind these fascinating pieces. Leave it up to ingenious, savvy women to decipher several issues at once-how to reuse leftover vivid fabrics and in addition, how to solve the financial problem of a material (traditional sheep wool) becoming less cost-effective and easy to produce and find.
These resourceful women, who often use sewing and looming from their tiny kitchens and homes as a small source of incomes in order to support their families, invented an entirely custom type of handcrafted carpet in the mecca of rugs, Morocco.
For the unwaveringly talented and faithful Mushmina longterm head weaver, Halima, boucherouite rugs are a practical means to an end. Halima’s ‘workspace’ i.e.; her tea-cup sized kitchen in dusty Bejaad, one of the ‘rug capitals’ of Morocco, is colorfully littered with strips of kaleidoscopic fabrics to be repurposed into a cheeky motley crew of fabulous boucherouites.
For Halima, like other Moroccan women, work and home are synonymous. Therefore, work equals family. It is typical for a busy Moroccan weaver to be juggling a traditional wooden loom and lively children running in and out of a closet-sized working space. Family is the heart of Moroccan society and children are particularly revered. It is a perfect match for Moroccan women to be able to create these useful pieces in the privacy and convenience of their homes.
These cheerful strips of fabric become zany, joyfully-shaped pieces of creative art. For Heather and Katie, Co-Founders of Mushmina, it is particularly meaningful when craft and ingenuity come together. Especially in Morocco, where there is so much room for mindful inventiveness, it is notably rewarding to support female weavers fabricating rugs that are recycled and unmatched.
Each piece, carefully and thoughtfully layered together. With each unique rug, the story of the recycled threads unfold; telling tales of meticulous weaving, family and magical Morocco. The extraordinary boucherouites, representing the vivid diversity of Morocco, the often forgotten voice of gifted female artisans, and the hope of the future.
By Tara Fraiture, Mushmina blogger
Shop some of these colorful beauties on www.mushmina.com. Limited edition.