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Holy Flying Cow Carpets, Batman!

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A very old tradition
If you saw a cow, you might have thought "juicy hamburger," or "glass of milk." You probably didn't think "exotic rug." Neither did we, until we got to Morocco, where beautiful, hand-woven carpets are made of sheep's wool and goat's hair… not to mention - gulp! - cow urine.

Yuck!! How do they do that? Why do they do that? Actually, cow urine is used as a dye in some of the more colorful carpets, along with other natural stuff like almond leaves and bark. Yellow dye comes from local plants, and black is courtesy of black-haired goats.

Moroccan carpets come in all designs and colors, but there are two main styles. Carpets from the town of Rabat normally have a floral pattern woven in red and blue, with a complicated border around the edges. A well-made carpet is made of tens of thousands of hand-tied knots! Berber and Arab herders make carpets from the High Atlas Mountains region from the wool and hair of the sheep and goats they tend. It is said that the wool used in these carpets has special powers! Weavers use all kind of funky patterns like zigzags, diamond, cars and evil eyes!

Brides won't catch cold with one of these on
Moroccans prop up carpets to keep out bad weather, and can use one big carpet like a blanket to keep their entire family warm at night! One tribe even makes capes out of its carpets. Some young Berber women weave their own wedding shawls, which they wear, wrapped around them as they ride on horseback to their groom's house.

Carpets are big business in Morocco. Some carpet shops in Morocco are as big and luxurious as palaces. The owner will generously offer you a cushy seat and some yummy mint tea as he tells you all about the carpets. He tries as hard as he can to impress you so much that you have to buy one of his carpets.

It takes hard work at the loom to make a carpet
Beautiful carpets take a lot of hard work to make, but it isn't the rich carpet storeowner who makes them. Instead, Moroccan women, mostly young girls, are the ones who make the carpets, but they don't get paid well at all. Many of the girls will never go back to school, but instead must spend their days working the looms like their mothers and their mothers before them.


Monica - Recipe for Morocco

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