One of my favorite experiences in Marrakech was buying a traditional Moroccan rug. It took several hours, and stepping into the rug shop I knew going in that it was a process that takes time and patience.
There are many cultural traditions around buying a rug in Morocco. Here’s a run down on how to buy a traditional Moroccan rug in Marrakech:
1. It starts with stepping into the shop, and hopefully the better of the hundreds of choices. There are plenty outdoor shops selling knock-off rugs that are not as high quality, so pick a good starting point and you’ll save yourself some grief down the road. I bought my rug at Dar Mejbar and highly recommend it not only for great rugs but also a pleasant experience.
2. One of the sellers in the shop or even the “owner” will come out and greet you. Enjoy this part of the process and have fun with it! Accept the offered mint tea and cheers to the process of buying the rug.
3. Take a seat or stand, as the rugs will come out one after another in rapid sequence. You’ll be asked if you want to keep it to consider (saying the word “haali”) or to send it back (saying the word “ishmaa”.) You can let them know what you like or dislike about the rugs and they will continue to present more and more aimed at what you’re looking for.
4. As you start to narrow down the rug style, you’ll have a few to decide from. At this point, vet out whether the rugs are good quality, always buy the best wool and test if it’s real. If it’s a colored rug, take a damp cloth and if it bleeds then it’s no good.
5. Decide on your final one and let the bartering begin. For reference, the one picture below that I purchased started at well over 3000 dirham and I paid 1500 dirham. If you can’t agree to a price, be prepared to walk away.
A few tips for buying a Moroccan rug in Marrakech
- Don’t bring a guide as they will take 15% of the final price so by not having one that’s 15% more in your pocket.
- If you plan on buying an “antique” rug be prepared to have done your research, knowing the key differentiators. A rug sold as an antique is much higher in price.
- No rug is perfect. They are handmade by one of forty-five Berber tribes, so each one is unique with colors and sewing.
- A rug should cost around 750-1000 dirham for a small one, a larger one can range from 1700-3500 dirham. Each one will differ in price pending the kind of wool and whether it’s an antique.