Berber

Caricature-culture looms large

Berber rug from Tangier Kasbah

Berber rug from Tangier Kasbah

Try visiting Morocco and Not coming home with a carpet.

Surely everybody, fresh into Tangier, has heard voices sing-spruiking: “I am Mohammed – I will buy you for Five Thousand camels”. Or: “I will take you to the most special, the finest place in all of Maroc. Other tourists don’t even know this place exists.”

Ali, our railway greeter, takes us to a carpet shop, followed by another carpet shop. Our Grant pipes up: “Have you ever seen the Fast Forward skit on TV?”

“SalEm. SalEm. SalEm.”(*) We inhale, then sip, and inhale once again, the peppermint aroma, putting down our herb-filled tea glasses as this rich cabaret begins. Listen, they announce, this is the history of carpets, and they talk in time to the showing.

Energetic forearms wave gigantic carpets. Woven mats and rugs unfurl and colours weave in the air, dust drifts down through muted sunlight, settling on more rugs.

I lap up the simplistic designs including stripes; Grant prefers the precise and detailed mats, ones made of silk with birds, flowers, intricate patterns. His choices belie a higher intelligence, a higher-end taste in art.

The ring masters continue: “The colour in this one is made with real saffron, please, and over here, if you will, please, you will see a real Berber, a Picasso of Berbers, if you please.

“As you like (x3). That is to say (x 3). Do you understand? (x 3). They’ve received Mrs Lambert’s memo about delivering messages in threes for greatest impact.

“Close your eyes,” one continues, “imagine it in your home”. “Send it home, just like a flying carpet.” “I don’t usually show this one, but because you are So nice, especially for you, here it is…”

The final sales pitch? How carpet was Perfect for natural sports. Carpets don’t squeak or move around, unlike a Bed, they wink.

I don’t get it, but, I’m SOLD.

* Salem/As-Salaamu Alaykum