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Unraveling the Unique Symbolism of the Timeless Berber Rug

Unraveling the Unique Symbolism of the Timeless Berber Rug

Posted by The City Cows Team on 3rd Jun 2022

An authentic Berber rug is one of the most timeless and trendiest interior design elements on today’s market. These beautiful, handmade rugs fit ideally into almost any colour or decorating scheme, which brings the genuine spirit and authentic culture of the weaver right into your home. However, you may have wondered about the symbolism on these rugs and if the designs are created at random. Interestingly, there is meaning behind each and every pattern used on the surface of these rugs. Whilst some are known only to the weaver, some are revealed by those who create these textiles.

Stories told through the etchings on Berber rugs may be a reminder of a divine presence, whilst others might depict protection from the evil eye or negative spiritual forces. Others allude to a plant species, an animal, landscapes or other things in the environment by which the Moroccan weaver is surrounded. Here are a few of the symbols and what they mean:

The Berber Cross

Also referred to as the "scissors," this design is a classic in the world of Beni Ourain rugs. It is used as a powerful talisman for those who work with fire and metal, such as jewelers and blacksmiths. Certain experts also believe that the Berber Cross is a rugged representation of an individual standing with his or her hands stretched to the sky to acknowledge a divine presence. Still others believe that this symbol can ward off the darker side of a person’s nature, which might tempt him or her to be enslaved by power and wealth.

The Berber Diamond

Also called the scarab, the Berber Diamond is meant to protect one’s spirit. It is usually surrounded by zigzags and other geometrical edging, which is believed to drive negative energy away. This symbol is often seen on Azilal Berber rugs, where it is frequently etched in bright colours. Such hues are thought to give more power to the symbol.

The Butterfly or Bird

A cross composed of four rectangles of contrasting shades embodies the belief of many Berber tribe members that airborne creatures are nearest to divine powers. They are thought to represent feminine beauty and freedom as well. These designs may also be symbols of protection from a broken home, an unhappy marriage, or other heavy burdens that come from misfortunes in life.


Often called "the Berber Tribe’s Yin Yang," the barley symbol is essentially a checkerboard pattern of contrasting hues, and is slightly similar to the famous Chinese symbol. It is representative of the concept of receiving what you give out in this life, otherwise known as karma. It is also thought to depict the ideal balance between opposites. Certain weavers use it as a symbol of a happy marriage and fertility as well.

The Frog

One of the most distinctive and colourful patterns seen with Berber rugs is the Frog. This pattern is a combination of squares and diamonds that come together to shape the rudimentary image of a frog. For ancient Moroccans, the frog was a symbol of fertility and pureness, as they noticed that clean water is required for frogs to survive and reproduce. A Berber rug featuring this symbol is a mainstay gift for a new bride or a woman about to give birth.

A Word About Colour

The aforementioned designs are only a small example of the many patterns you will find on these lovely rugs. However, it is not only the etchings that have meaning for the weavers. The various colours symbolise things as well. In some cases, they may completely change the meaning of a traditional symbol. For example, green is the colour for peace, whilst blue symbolises wisdom. Red is almost always used for protection and power, and yellow symbolises eternity. So for example, if a traditional fish and snake pattern is used, it may indicate peaceful unity if shades of green are used, but if red elements are introduced to the pattern, the symbolism may mean power against an evil spirit or enemy.

You may have concluded that traditional Berber rugs have intriguing designs and symbolisms that you might want to know more about. Whichever patterns appeal to you the most, one thing is certain: the beauty and craftsmanship seen with genuine Berber rugs is unsurpassed with any other textile. Buy one or more of these unique, one-of-a-kind rugs and introduce these interesting and unusual design elements to your home.