Mixed Technique Bag from the Middle Atlas Mountains
Zemmour Berber Pillow
32" X 14"3214" x 32"
h. 20 Goat hair (?) warps per inch
v. 32 wool wefts per inch
Variable techniques; mixture of pile,weft face,
and weft substitution
A proper analysis of this weaving is beyond my ability, but it really is an interesting object. It is my understanding that any Moroccan Berber weaving from the 19th century is exceedingly rare, so I suspect that it is from the first half of the 20th century.
The colors don't seem to have changed much, judging from the inside of the bag. It appears that the exterior wool, especially the red ground, has as much shrunk or been abraded, as faded. You can see from the photo of the end treatment that, in the least, the one end was not continued on as the plain weave back. In fact, the back has red wool warps, so its either a later addition to the bag, or the bag was originally woven without an integral back. The piping which makes it way around the edge is not original.There are three patch repairs along the lower right border of the pillow, which seem to indicate that someone cared enough about this piece to repair it,and the patches seem to be of kindered old work.
I find of special interest the execution of the design found on this far right panel, with these "X" devices. Seems quite complex.
I an attempt to learn more in regard to this piece, I submitted some photos to the Turkotek website, and recieved the following response...
"This Zemmour pillow—probably from the Khemisset area—is most likely from the 1930s or 40s. I bought quite a few of them in the late 1970s when I was in Morocco frequently. Since some of their makers were still alive then, they could be dated pretty accurately. Occasionally a slightly earlier example appeared. The decorative structure is weft-substitution throughout, along with symmetrical knotting. Sometimes Zemmour examples had bands of white cotton knotting, rather than the wool and cotton in yours. I don’t remember seeing any twining on these; twining was common on High Atlas weavings, but not on Zemmour or Zaiane flatweaves..
These cushions were normally woven continuously with a back, but the striped replacement back on yours is similar in appearance to Zemmour originals. On Zaiane cushions, complex weft-substitution patterning often continued on the backs. I was always fond of these cushions, and still have two or three of them around the house somewhere. Sometimes they seemed almost like samplers, on which the weaver could try out unfamiliar patterns - Marla Mallett"