Buying a Moroccan Rug - Our Expert Tips
An authentic Moroccan rug is a true treasure, but there are specific tips to follow when buying a good one. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are many counterfeits on the market given the great demand. While shopping around, there are many things to consider to ensure top quality. You want a durable, beautiful product that will stand the test of time. In fact, the best rugs age quite well. You must know where to go and how to spot a top-tier rug.
Background of Moroccan Rugs
A true rug from Morocco will come from one of the forty-five Berber tribe regions of the country. Every area has unique characteristics and background stories.
Of course, they are all handmade on a loom, usually by a female artisan. The process can take up to ten days from start to finish depending upon the size, intricacy of the pattern, and the worker’s free time. A busy woman may take years to complete her task. These beautiful items are not just for sale to tourists or for trade; they are made for the home and for certain celebrations.
Types of Moroccan Rugs
Each tribe has its distinct rug, which complicates the choice to be made. Many people go for looks and what is popular. But if you want to learn more about these beautiful decor pieces, we’ll share more information in this article and our team of rug experts will always be happy to help you source and design the authentic Moroccan rug of your dream.
Shopping for a Moroccan Rug
If you are shopping your rug in Morocco, go prepared. Plan ahead as to the size and style. Learn about metric measures. The dimensions of US versus Moroccan rugs will vary, even if they are the traditional rectangles. Moroccan rugs tend to be more rectangular in fact. It isn’t a bad idea to think about colors. Look up such rugs online to get an idea of the range. There are hundreds to assess. Most styles have particular names. Of course, set a budget in advance so you won’t get carried away. Use a credit card if you must, but there can be a fee. Set a final price or at least a range. Shipping always costs extra. It is common and you won’t want to do it yourself in a foreign country. Some sellers will throw in the cost.
Antique and Aged Rugs
Not all rugs are old or “antique” even if it is claimed. Beware of fakes. You won’t always be able to spot one. Antiques are higher in demand and cost more. It takes a lot of experience to tell the difference, so if it matters, learn the ropes. Or just be cautious. It is all about value and getting what you pay for.
Bargain in the Souk
If you are shopping for your rug in Morocco, it is traditional and quite acceptable to bargain in the souk. No one expects you to accept the given price. So try bargaining and get a “deal”.
The salesman will work with you as he knows his bottom line. Start by offering as much as two-thirds off the initial price and expect to increase your bid. You will end up somewhere in the middle between the highest and lowest end of the price spectrum. You can always move on if the rug of choice is beyond your budget.
A tip in bargaining is to look uninterested and willing to walk away. Yes, it is a game so learn to play your part. If you look excited, the salesman has his hook on you. Vendors are smart at observing customers’ “tics”. They will keep you guessing but stay in the higher price realm. If you look nonchalant, he will have to work at his trade. Feel free to leave and return. Surely, you will get what you want in the end.
Test the Material
If it’s possible, we recommend testing the material of your rug. A fine Moroccan rug is made of wool. It should never be synthetic. Take an edge and hold a lighter up to it. It won’t light up or will go out if it is wool. It’s a great technique when shopping for antique rugs. Synthetics always ignite.
What to Pay for a Moroccan Rug
Rug quality varies and so does the price. Expect to pay for age, style or pattern, and condition. They are the essential factors that bear on a fair price. It matters where the rug was made and the current trends. All in all, a small rug can run from 1000-4000 Moroccan dirhams ($100 to $400). However, on average, a rug costs from 3500-9000 Moroccan dirhams ($350 to $900), shipping not included. At the top of the range is a vintage Berber or large rug. They can top 10,000-25,000 dirhams and more. Don’t expect a bargain. A cheap rug is simply a cheap rug.
Taking Care of a Moroccan Rug
Care is vital for a precious antique Moroccan rug. Spots will come so just dab them with soap and water and let dry. Larger spots may need professional cleaning.
You may have heard of the famous women’s rug co-ops. It is a myth actually. Not all rugs are made by female artisans. If you can identify a rug coming from such a place, you have struck gold. However, in these co-ops, the women are paid a low fee and you are participating in disrespect. Paying more doesn’t help. The extra money doesn’t go to the source. Women get a fixed price and that’s it. Little Moroccan Things is one of the very few rug shops that are founded by a woman of Moroccan origins who works directly with cooperatives and makes sure they are paid competitive wages. When you buy from Little Moroccan Things, you not only are sure to have authentic artisanal Moroccan rugs, but you also help a community of rural women weavers.