Rug with Polychrome Brushstrokes

Circa 1920
Steppe north of Marrakech, Morocco
370 x 170 cm
12'1" x 5'6"

The Rehamna tribes are located in the Bahira plain, which is contained between the Jbilet range, located north of Marrakech, and the Rehamna massif. They are distinguished between Arab tribes, originating from Sudan and inhabiting the plain since the 14th century, and those of Saharan origin. Rehamna rugs are characterised by an additional selvedge wrapping in black wool or goat hair, creating the typical sawtooth indentations we see on the sides. Their weavings can be divided in two distinct groups, the qtifa with red/orange open fields and the other, called zarbiya, with the field punctuated by a series of abstract motifs similar to the iconography of the neighbouring Boujad weavings (Korolnik, 1998). 

The present rug is an iconic example of the latter type, distinguished by a horizontal layering of blocks of pattern similar to painterly brushstrokes. The visual impression is as if the rich red field has been embellished by ancient motifs, creating a powerful abstract landscape. This style appears as being more characteristic of the Arab people who, unlike the Berbers, were freed of the constraints of having to follow a pile weaving tradition centred on designs based on the more formal, meticulously constructed flat-weaves. This allowed them more room to express their own, primitive and abstract iconography (Hufnagel, Adam 2013).

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