Women Helping Women: Berber Textiles and Weaving
Photo Credit: Susan Schaefer Davis
Along with argan oil, another Berber tradition that is gaining international recognition is textile and rug weaving, which are produced using a variety of styles and have become a form of artistic expression. Rural rugs can be identified by region and tribe, detailed with stripes and symbols in a wide range of colors. The texture can often be closer to that of a blanket, with looser and more flexible weaves making them more easily portable and useful for mountain life. Rugs were traditionally made for personal use, with women passing down weaving techniques from generation to generation and items are often an essential component to a girl’s dowry. Some tribes burn the fringes of their carpets making them intentionally “un-perfect” so as to protect against the evil eye. Kahina Giving Beauty founder Katharine L’Heureux is fascinated by the weaving styles of Berber women, and the stories their textiles tell through traditional symbolism.
Anthropologist Susan Schaefer Davis and her husband have been living and working in Morocco on and off for over thirty years. In addition to her academic work, she has developed a website, Marrakesh Express (click here for link) which acts as a non-profit portal between women weavers in rural Morocco and consumers interested in purchasing their exquisite and unique textiles.
As well as offering textiles for sale, Susan profiles the women who weave the rugs, from the villages of N’kob (click here for link) and Ben Smim (click here for link). In this way, consumers can see who their purchase will be benefiting, and feel uniquely connected to these women. Her profiles also contain anecdotes of the time she has spent with the women, speaking to them in their native darija (Moroccan Arabic) and learning how they use the money earned from their weaving. Susan works with the towns to see how a percentage of the rug price could go to best benefit the community. In N’kob for example, 2% of the textile price goes to help improve the primary school for village children.
At Kahina Giving Beauty, we love to see women helping women around the globe share their traditional crafts. Click here to meet the women who extract argan oil used in our products.