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The Kabylian Handmades: Blankets and Carpets


    The art, for Berbers, is a pure creation of the mind guided by a deep instinct and ageless traditions. Berber art is close to the so-called "primitive" art where the artist made everything for himself, while remaining hunter, breeder or farmer. The activity is characterized by production for domestic purposes; the family assuring all or part of its needs in objects utilities, clothing, utensils, carpets, blankets, work tools.

    Kabylia has a long tradition of traditional weaving, despite the absence of large sheep farms. Traditionally, it is a female activity which is transmitted from mother to daughter. The profession of weaving is an art which is arduous and demanding. In this context, the object of the loom is given great importance to the extent that a woman who is weaving a carpet or a blanket must not leave it under any pretext until finishing it. The raw material of the weaving is sheep's wool. The wool is then washed, dried, cleaned, combed, carded and finally spun, ready for weaving on the loom. Some objects from weaving are of great social importance, such as burnous, carpets or blankets. The fleeces are sorted according to the quality of the wool. For instance, the white wool, coming from the well-fed animals of local breed, taken on the back of the fleece, will be used for the making of burnous. The big blankets of winters are made from off-white wool. 

     Kabylia is renowned for the quality of its blankets and carpets that are made from wool. They can have a domestic use (very colorful and much embroidered, they are an object of prized decoration, they are put on the bed, on the ground or the walls) or religious (for praying). According to tradition, Berber women make a rug or blankets for every important event in life. Like all Kabylian handcrafts, they are used in the weaving of many geometric colors and shapes, dating back to a very ancient past. These geographical patterns vary from one village to another. There are several varieties of blankets and carpets and can reach eight meters long. 

   In order to create a blanket or a carpet, the Berber women weave the wool by hand, using the entire Berber knot (the techniques of weaving vary according to the villages). Within a home, men and women can work cooperatively. While the woman is in charge of weaving and modeling carpets, the husband deals with their marketing in the markets. The technique of weaving is transmitted from generation to another, although this form of teaching is threatened as for other forms of traditional crafts. It is sorrowful to say that today it has no existence.

The Kabylian Handmades: Blankets and Carpets written by ARAB Sabrina

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