The Marrakech Medina is created from many layers and filled with endless new things to discover and enjoy. Wander down a few alleys from the square at the Medersa Ben Youssef to find a peaceful and lovely riad that is home to the Musée Boucharouite.
Boucharouite carpets, which have been “a moment” in the design world for the last couple of years, are actually a traditional Moroccan handicraft that has long been practiced by Berber women in the villages of the Atlas mountains.
These colorful-even comtemporary looking- “rag rugs” are as economical as they are artistic.
Rather than the typical and more expensive wool used in most Moroccan carpets, fine strips of cotton and synthetic fabric from recycled clothing are hand knotted on looms typically found in village homes. In carpets created for the home, the fabrics are sourced from old family djellabas, adding to the sentimental value of the finished piece.
One of the first rooms you encounter in the museum shares the lives and stories of three of the Berber women who create these very personal works of art.
As you will come to appreciate, each boucharouite carpet is individual and unique to the woman who creates it, and is woven with meaning and symbolism.
The exhibit guide explains
Mostly illiterate, these women can freely express their worldview and weave their emotions guided by their intuition. With geometrical signs, often revisited in their shape according to the imagination: diamond for fertilization, or the eye protecting against evil spells, square or rectangle for the house or field, zigzag of lines for the community of men or the river. And the colors: red for the woman, yellow for the man, white for the mourning, blue for love, or green for paradise-they can tell stories, memories of their life.
Even more touching, the final exhibit shares some very rare examples of Zindekh carpets. For women who cannot afford the expense of a proper loom, salvaged, synthetic fiber flour sacks become a canvas that opens up artistic freedom for what can best be described as embroidered, abstract art.
Marrakech is full of amazing handcrafts and the layers of commercial enterprises that support them. Unfortunately, very little attention and appreciation gets paid to the actual artists who create the finished pieces that are so coveted and marketable in the West and Europe. I love this museum for honoring these women and sharing their stories and artwork in such a sensitive and loving way. That’s just one of the reasons it’s a “must-see” visit on my Discover Marrakech Retreat!
The medina is filled with hidden gems waiting to be uncovered and this is definitely one of them!
Housed in a beautifully restored and decorated riad, Musée Boucharouite de Marrakech is the creation of collector Patrick de Maillard, who honors the the Berber women who create these special carpets by sharing their stories along with their colorful creations.
After enjoying the exhibits and the quiet rooms, be sure to spend some time relaxing on the sunny rooftop terrace, where you can sip coffee or tea and enjoy the sounds of the birds singing in between the muezzin’s call to prayers from the nearby mosques.