Over the years and following numerous expeditions up to the High Atlas Mountains to source many of our handmade products, we have had the privilege to develop close connections with Berber artisans and their families. These interactions have given us the opportunity to appreciate and understand better their crafts, culture and traditions.
The meaning of the word Berber is “Free People/ Noble People”, which is something we tangibly feel on every visit. They are a proud race, with a strong sense of identity, recognizing that they descend from generations of of a people that have worked hard to etch a living off the side of mountains and deep along narrow valley floors. They have their own different way of life, distinct to the one that city Arabs live in the rest of Morocco. They enjoy their own language called 'Tamazight', have their own alphabet, create their own traditional designs and motifs inspired by their mountain surroundings. And perhaps their most distinguishing feature is their extraordinary sense of hospitality.
In the rural villages up in remote areas of the High Atlas Mountains life is still traditional and time feels as if it has come to a standstill. Colour is everywhere and where better to see this reflected than in the style of rugs the woman weave. On the days we travel to source Berber wares we come across children playing and women chatting whilst herding the very sheep used to sheer wool the woman will use to weave their rugs and blankets. Ladies sit outside their homes, weaving on hand looms, their new creation unfolding slowly.
Nobody is in a rush. Some times we stop to take a closer look at a half-finished rug and agree to purchase it on our next visit. Conversations invariably continue over some home baked bread dipped in fresh olive oil together with some “Berber Whiskey” (mint tea) or a hearty Berber tagine. The men will always shake your hand when you arrive, but never when you leave, believing that your departure will be brief and that the mountains winds will bring you quickly back again.