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The Aït Hamza Collaboration

July 07, 2019

Down the spiraling Atlas Mountains roads, near the Beni Mellal province, lies the village of Aït Hamza, a small Berber town of 3000 people at the heart of the Moroccan Middle Atlas. This quiet rural area is home to many women artisans who are part of what might be the last generation of traditional weavers.

The Village of Aït Hamza in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains

On a global scale, only a small portion of textiles meet fair-trade standards, and Morocco is no exception. Because of complex and obscure supply chains with multiple middlemen, artisans always remain the weakest link, unable to make decent incomes from their activity. Although Morocco has some of the best craftspeople in the world, many of these skills are in the hands of an aging population, as the younger generation turns away because of precarious work conditions and low incomes. Our wish is to help change this broken system by walking the extra mile and establishing long-term relationships with the best artisan entrepreneurs.

Berber Women Artisans in the Atlas Mountains

In Aït Hamza we collaborate with a group of women who master the art of Berber intricate weaving. These skills are passed down from one generation to the next as each woman acquires them at an early age from her mother. Without any formal artistic training, these artisans master their craft and perfectly execute the most sophisticated Berber patterns and designs. These patterns go beyond aesthetics and are rich in Amazigh symbolism, reflecting Berber History, culture, traditions, rituals, beliefs and superstitions. 

The chevrons, zigzags, triangles and crosses are more than geometry, they represent meaningful concepts such as birth, fertility, nature, growth or evil eye and are drawn from typical Berber rituals like tattooing. Traditionally, much like a painting, the sequencing of patterns is here to tell a story and reflet the different phases of a woman's life. 

Berber Symbolism & Patterns

Through our partnership, we seek to blend the best of what Berber craftsmanship has to offer with a modern and minimalist design philosophy. We associate ancestral techniques, Berber symbolism and natural materials with contemporary color palettes and ideas. Each piece is meticulously woven from natural local sheep wool and handcrafted from start to finish using the Hanbel technique, an ancestral vertical wooden loom, specific to Amazigh weaving. It usually takes 3 days to complete a pillow and up to eight weeks for a rug.

The pieces of the Berber collection are produced in small batches and purchased at the right price from our partner artisans entrepreneurs. The variations of the natural cream white sheep wool make each piece truly unique. 

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