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People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
Also known as: Al-Jumhūriyyah al-Jazāʾiriyyah al-Dīmuqrāṭiyyah al-Shaʿbiyyah
Arts and Crafts: Rug weaving
The art of rug weaving has been an Algerian tradition for many centuries, with some historians naming the Berbers that inhabited this territory and most of North Africa as having the oldest traditions of this art, some styles passed down the matrilineal side of families for generations, some even with roots as old as the stone age.
This art is a beloved tradition in the country. The rugs are usually woven, knitted, from sheep’s wool, sometimes together with goat or camel hair, which gives them extra strength and durability. The colors are amazing, very vivid, with a great variety of geometric-style patterns. Each region has its own style, but they all use variations of these patterns. In March each year, a town named Ghardaïa hosts a large festival, that brings artists from all over the country to meet with each other, show their work, and participate in competitions. The town of Ain El Hammam in Upper Kabylia also hosts a similar festival during the year.
The designs of modern Algerian rugs have a unique beauty, and are known for their high quality wool, tight and durable weave, and versatility. For this art, time has barely made a difference. Shapes and styles have been preserved, with some rugs showing small hints of modern influences. The range of designs available is a representation of the Algerian cultural melting pot. Rugs can be of Berber, Maghrebian, Arabo- Muslim, African, and Oriental inspiration.
Most people practice Islam, and many traditional interpretations of the religion forbid the use of human or animal motifs in art, and as a result, Algerian rugs use many geometric shapes in their design. Other designs also include flowers, vines and leaves. They can be very intricate and may also include geometric elements. The designs are mainly abstract in nature and carefully balanced.
There are many kinds of rug designs in each region, each having a distinct feel to them, while retaining some elements common in all of them. The most famous ones are Babar rugs from the east of Algeria, but there are other beautiful examples, such as the rugs made in the east region; the rugs from the people that inhabit the desert, particularly the ones produced in a city called Ghardaia (mentioned above); the Jebel Amour rugs from the west; and the Abbasi rugs (with Persian influences), from the Sidi Belabbass city.
You can read more here, and a more in-depth explanation of the different arts and crafts of the country- here. The following two videos portray some of these designs. It's easy to see how skilled these artists are. You can also see the work of the artist Hocine Bazine, from Ghardaia- here and here.
Algerians are dedicated to preserving their culture and traditions for future generations.