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the Wonderful World of Weaving
02:06:48 PM Sunday Aug 5, 2007

I was looking back at some pictures I took in Santa Barbara recently,
and as I reviewed this one of a weaving loom at the old Spanish Presidio, I started to wonder how similar it may be to the looms and weaving methods of our native North Africa. I remember seeing an old loom in the corner of Khalti's house last time I visited, though it seems no one has used it in years.

So what are these looms used for? I can imagine things like shawls, rugs and blankets, pillow covers and cushions, maybe thick sweaters and cloaks too. what else? anyone have an old loom in the family or know what it may have been used for?

And here's an interesting link that I came across online. It's a website called The World of Beduin Weaving with some articles mentioning the beduin weaving of North Africa as well, not just that of the Arabian gulf region. This woman has spent more than 15 years studying beduin weaving traditions and some of her insights are pretty interesting.

I think the looms she shows used by most Arab Beduin tribes seem a bit simpler than this more complex one that I saw at the presidio, which is a larger piece structurally. Then again, that makes sense considering that beduins are traditionally a nomadic people who need to travel light and move around seasonally.

I love the patterns and geometric motifs used on the traditional woven products, and the warm striking color schemes are so attractive. It makes you just want to have an entire "salon" in this style :) There are some cool pictures on the beduin weaving website as well.

But what I'm really curious to know more about are Berber weaving traditions.
So I went back to google and came across some interesting stuff. Most websites were trying to sell a rug, but some actually provided interesting info about the styles and patterns. check out these:

patterns of rugs by the Beni Ouarain tribe, from the High Atlas - due to the cold weather they often leave loops of wool on the back of the weave to make it warmer

Oued Zamm rugs with bright colors and detailed patterns depicting flora and fauna not just geometric designs

the woven blankets of the Zemmour tribe South of Meknes, who use the long blankies to cover an entire family

the website also shows some commonly used Berber symbols woven into traditional products, and what the symbols represent - that actually reminds me of some symbols I've seen on berber tattoos as well - but that's another topic.

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3:50 am    August 31, 2007

Salem message
Thanks Hudhud. This time my succes was less than fifty per cent. I hope I'll do better next time.

10:58 am    August 30, 2007

hudhud message
Baba Salem, it's really easy. log in to your account, look at the top of the page where there is a blue line that says "profile, inbox, friends, notes, logout" and click on the one that says "notes" - then select write a new note, and on the right-hand side you will upload the pictures from your computer to raioo. then you just pick if you want it to go above/left/right of the text.

looking forward to the pictures!


3:23 am    August 30, 2007

Salem message
Hudhud, if you tell me how, I will post a couple of pictures of "Tazar" I took last week while in the north of Morocco. I couldn't forget the discussions we had about the similarities between Morocco and Las Americas during the hole trip.

I had said that I didn't know the word "Tazar", I recently I found out that I actually knew the word "Dezzara" which means any blanket that women use around their lower part of their body. I conclude that it's the blanket fuction that gives the name whatever are the weaving mode or colors... interesting!


10:51 am    August 27, 2007

hudhud message
traditional kyrgyz carpet
The carpets are made of sheep's wool, but the base is made of camel and goat wool.

doll of a kyrgyz girl weaving traditional carpet


3:46 pm    August 24, 2007
hasna rogers
i am intrseted to know for the location. if is possible and models
my eamil is

3:46 pm    August 24, 2007
hasna rogers
i am intrseted to know for the location. if is possible and models
my eamil is

10:11 am    August 9, 2007

hudhud message
coool have a fabulous time!! i say you bring back some cool pictures =) i'm a photoholic. i love travel pictures. and some adventure stories to go with the pictures =D

safe fun travels!


2:20 am    August 9, 2007

Banota message
We'll be going to Cairo and Luxor and if we have time I'd like to visit Aswan. I'v heard so much abut Egypt... Do you guys want anything in particular, I can just send it across to you guys in the US.

6:52 pm    August 8, 2007
Ummu Dunya!!... Great...
I enjoyed the only time I visited Cairo 3 years ago. If you have enough time, it seems that there is so much to see in other locations such as Luxor, Alexandria and the boat ride along the Nile.

Thanks hudhud for having pushed the start button...


11:31 am    August 8, 2007

hudhud message
who knew we could learn so much about weaving in so little time? =)
bring back something egyptian ;) have fun!

8:30 am    August 8, 2007

Banota message
Thanks Salem. I'll be going Egypt inshAllah. First time. Can't wait!

5:43 am    August 8, 2007
Take care of yourself Banota. Have nice vacations.

3:41 am    August 8, 2007

Banota message
I have a striped blue and white one. Like you Salem, it makes me feel at home. I'll put a photo of it as soon as I can. Im going away on holiday this Friday so it's likely I will only be able to do it when I get back.

You guys have some really interesting points.

Hud Hud, I've really been educated about weaving thanks to you.


2:30 am    August 8, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
I always wondered about berber rugs. I've seen some in the states that were not made in North Africa but still were called berber rugs. Seen a few in South Africa that could have easily been made in North Africa, but I was assured they were local products of local heritage. Perhaps it's one of those universal technologies. It solves the problem the same way no matter where it is. Now, do the innuits have weavings too?

6:29 pm    August 7, 2007

hudhud message
last bits for now.. Malinke weaver of Ivory Coast -- check out the designs used - similar to some berber designs.

i want this one - does it come in girls sizes..

akan clothing and meaning of the symbols -- this one i found pretty fascinating.. the cloths have names based on the designs which are based on the techniques -- and those names stand for cultural expressions or beliefs. you are what you wear - literally!!
take this small example - the website explanation says that it is a "Symbol of PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY, WARNING AGAINST DICTATORIAL RULE, and PLURALITY OF IDEAS
From the maxim: Obakofo mmu oman.
Literal translation: One person does not rule a nation.
The Akan belief is that democratic rule requires consultation, open discussion, consensus building, and coalition formation. The use of the Queenmother as a co-ruler and the Council of state or council of elders are examples of Akan forms of participatory democracy depicted by this cloth."

check 'em out folks!


6:15 pm    August 7, 2007

hudhud message
is there a historical tradition of zulu weaving.. hmm.. seems like they weave beads more than cloth :) but what about when the weather gets colder??

5:49 pm    August 7, 2007

hudhud message
hahaaa I can't believe you asked! I had looked it up!!!! LOL!!!! but they are very different than berber rugs :o)

inuit weaving exhibit

inuit leather clothes & tools

LOOK here! you can even buy your own woven inuit art!!

LOL this is going to make me look like a geek. or a nerd.

inuit means "the people" -- amazigh means "free people"

now I wonder what "zulu" means?? :)

btw - I remember this woman in my physics class in college - when I told her I'm berber she said "What's that? I thought that was a rug!" and I was so insulted at the time LOL. I have since seen many home decor companies sell rugs that they call "berber" even though they are not made by berber people or north african at all. I think they use it to refer to the types of rugs with the loops of wool/cotton that make the rugs so warm. Perhaps it has become more a definition of a certain style or type of weaving now in the modern rug business!

here is an example but this one's a rather ugly plain thing by comparison to north african berber rugs. funny - that's actually the first hit I got from googling "berber rug" =)

hmm.. maybe the amazigh nations should sue these modern companies for use of their name and for false or misleading advertising........


5:10 pm    August 7, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
I always wondered about berber rugs. I've seen some in the states that were not made in North Africa but still were called berber rugs. Seen a few in South Africa that could have easily been made in North Africa, but I was assured they were local products of local heritage. Perhaps it's one of those universal technologies. It solves the problem the same way no matter where it is. Now, do the innuits have weavings too?

10:50 am    August 7, 2007

hudhud message
That's cool Banota your grandmother must have been very skilled allah yerhamha :) I would love to see a picture of your tazar. can you post one for us on your blog page?

I found some pictures of traditional navajo woven rugs with designs very very similar to some berber woven rugs and pillow covers, etc. And the berber ones were both Moroccan and Algerian berber products.

If only I hadn't locked myself out of my account for the millionth time I would have been able to post the images LOL.
The thing I did notice as far as differences is that the native american designs seem to use much bigger symbols and geometric patterns, while most of the berber designs seem smaller and more detailed. Not sure if this may have something to do with the type of looms or equipment they use - but I would guess that the kind of loom used affects the size and complexity that can be achieved by the weavers.

Anyway - do a google image search on navajo rugs and then another google image search on berber rugs - you will see what I'm talking about :)


9:34 am    August 7, 2007
Thanks Banota. I never knew they were called "Tazar". Two years ago, I bought four of them in Tetuan. In a little market in the Anciant Medina. 2 were striped white and red (50% whool and 50% cotton), the two others were made of pure whool, plain color of noble fine whool.

Like you I don't wear them as women do... I use them to cover the sofa and my chair at home. They make me happy when I see them and touch them.

Warm regards.


9:17 am    August 7, 2007
There is something magic about weaving! don't you think so? doesn't the beauty of weaving and looms come from something beyond the actual weaving of a rug or a carpet?

Weaving has a mysterious side. I think of the unknown spider that WEAVED a WEB on the cave entry where Prophet Sidna Mohammed and his first Companion Abi Bakr Seddik hided just minutes before angry ennemies were definitly convinced that nobody could bossibly have entered the cave for many days. Aren't we WEAVING frindeship thanks to Raioocom? think about the exciting NETWORKING and LOBBYING processes. Weaving BLOOD links accross the planet... Some would think of Globalization. It is indeed. A good Globalization.

I have blood links with french citizens, spanish, british, italiens, belgians, dutch, americans, bresilians, algerians, subsaharian africans.. and maybe more. I may not be sure of the extend of my blood links. Isn't it a wonderful WEB ?



3:50 am    August 7, 2007

Banota message
Blankets and rugs were common. She also made what we call a 'tazar'. You must'v have seen them before.. Its like a long wrap worn by women, its usual red and white. They wear it on top of their clothes. I have one.. lol.. I dont wear it though.

2:14 pm    August 6, 2007

hudhud message
some more interesting stuff here
wiki Loom
and here
wiki Weaving

12:56 pm    August 6, 2007

hudhud message
Quite likely Salem, I think there are definitely some similarities in the styles of the indigenous people of South America and the Berber designs, whether in textiles or ceramics. many of the patterns look similar.
Banota - maybe it's just a matter of practice :) I think they also learn at a very young age.. what did your grandmother (allah yerhamha) make? do you know what kind of things she wove with her loom?

also, came across some more interesting stuff.. this website that talks about African textiles and weaving also had some interesting insights about the relationship between textile trade, weaving traditions, and the spread of Islam in other parts of western and sub-Saharan Africa. intriguing...

"The great Arab traveller al-Bakri described seeing what would appear to be a narrow-strip loom in operation in the Mauretanian town of Silla in AD 1068. Whatever its origins it is clear that the distribution of the skills of weaving on the narrow-strip loom, along with the tailoring and embroidery of men's robes, owes a lot to the long distance traders that criss-crossed West Africa dealing in a huge range of goods, both locally produced and imported from across the Sahara. Many of these traders were Muslims, and the demand for appropriate and prestigious Islamic attire certainly helped to promote the spread of textile technologies. In some areas the majority of narrow-strip weavers are themselves Muslims, although this is by no means always the case. It is often suggested that Islam provided the key motivation for spreading weaving technologies throughout West Africa, with conversion to Islam prompting people to wear clothes etc. In my view, although this was a factor, the linkage is more complex and multi-dimensional. The key factor was trade - Islam was not a pre-requisite for being a weaver, but at least by the C19th it was vital for success as a trader in most of the Sahel & Savanna, since it opened up a network of credit and contacts. Textiles were the trade good par excellence in the region, easily transported, high value, long lasting, and in demand everywhere. It was through the importance of cloth in long distance trade that many weavers, such as the Oyo Yoruba, converted to Islam. Interestingly the major non-Muslim trade network, of the Aro-chukwu in south east Nigeria, covered an area where narrow strip weaving is not found."

source: Adire African Textiles


5:41 am    August 6, 2007

Banota message
Thanks for this Hud Hud.

I've always wanted to get my hands on one of these, not to own because I wouldn't have a clue as to how to operate it but to try out and maybe have a go, it seems really difficult to use. it looks like a very delicate peice of equipment. I've never been able to bump into one but I usually see it on documentaries. It's nice to know that people still use traditional methods despite the growing modern Morocco.

I'm from the North of Morocco, I'v visited the Jbul a few times, as it's where my very proud roots are from and I've never come across one which is a shame because my granmother (Allahi Rahamha) told me how she owned one when she was much younger and made a living out of making all sorts.

I see young boys as young as 12 on these documentaries on 2M.. They make it look amazingly easy - How hard can it be?

Thanks again Hud hud.


4:10 am    August 6, 2007
The similarities are definitely there between handcrafts designs, patterns and colors in both the north african region and the american continent (north and south). Part of this obviously happened through a historical process in which Spain and Portugal played a major role when it comes to what's Hispanic.

The nuance indicated by Mahjoub between Hispanics and Latinos is very interesting. The implications of such a definition include interest in how much the Hispanics include part of north africans (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) in one hand, and how much the Latinos include the same part of North Africa in the other hand.

As exemple, I think of the El Sombrero and the red and white stripped blanket used by women in northern Morocco (Tangiers and Tetuan) these two items are widely used in different regions of south america ("the Latinos").

Although the similarities are impressing between part of moroccan handcrafs and native americans' handcrafts I doubt that the 'conquestadores hibericos' have played a significant role in that. I have the feeling that this happend way before.

Thanks Hudhud for the note and thanks Mahjoub for your comments. I enjoyed reading and re-reading them.


1:07 am    August 6, 2007

hudhud message
hi Mahjoub,
you are correct on that point - it's historically known that the Spanish conquistadores and explorers including Christopher Columbus did bring with them Moorish navigators, builders, and skilled workers on their expeditions. Their navigational systems alone were based heavily on the scientific achievements of Andalusian scholars. So yes there is definitely a strong influence. And the influence extends beyond architecture. For example, the date palm trees that you see all over California were imported directly by the Spanish from places like Morocco and Algeria. The water systems they used to irrigate their gardens and their agricultural methods were again heavily influenced by Andalusian technology and sciences.

As for the looms and weaving traditions, I think that native American designs from the different tribes indigenous to North America actually have more in common with the native Berber designs. The use of geometric patterns and tribal symbols is a bit similar. Same goes for native American pottery and ceramics - the last time I was in Arizona I remember buying a small clay jar that looked like it could easily fit on the shelf of a berber house back home. Similar color schemes and patterns.

The common threads are fascinating. But beyond all the history and cultural exploration, it is simply a pleasure to see a loom in action and enjoy the finished product.

Hmm... I wonder if one day I could learn to operate one of those things =P


5:31 pm    August 5, 2007
Nice article and interesting subject Hudhud. I am not much of a chatter lately but your note above is worthy of discussing, as I am interested in such objects, tools or machinery as a looms, that were used in the past by different people around the planet not only to produce material either raw or otherwise, but to express their artistic style, and which ever came to vogue in that era be it geometric or organic figures such as flowers, plants, or animal, as well as inherited ancestral beliefs, or a way of life. These objects are conveyors of and keepers of ancient culture and serve the purpose of letting the world know about that particular culture through their beauty, vivid colors and artistic expression.

I live “Up North” (US), and the culture here is very much influenced by that of Northern European states and people. But when I visited California for the first time I was taken aback, and impressed at first by the similarities its landscape has with Northern African countries especially our beloved Morocco, from the Ocean on the west of the state to the snowy mountains and its desert land. Second the impact of Hispanic cultures was much more pronounced than that of any other influences, especially when it comes to building styles, artistic expressions, and names of places. Notice I used the word Hispanic and not Latino to imply southern or South American cultures, and the reason is that Latino is a new compared to Hispanic, and Hispanic also imply North African, Moorish, Moroccan, Arab-Berber. I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, but through personal observations, and research I can Say the following: Approximately 900 years Arab-Berber colonization of Spain, I am almost certain that those who discovered the new world, and came along with, and after Christopher Columbus must either have been of Arab, Berber, Jewish, and or off course Hispanic origins and at least of families influenced by 900 years Arab and Berber or North African cultures. Hence I am not surprised if the loom you saw does look like those found in small Moroccan villages either high on the Atlas Mountains or throughout Morocco. Are the Berbers or the Arab Nomadic Bedouins the first to use that type of loom? Probably not! This is a very fascinating and intriguing subject.

One side note is in my little write up, I was only interested in the North African cultural influence on southern US, and by any means I didn’t ignore nor denied the influence of Native North and South Continental American cultures. Thank you


hudhud's notes (47)
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the Wonderful World of Weaving..
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