Meet the Artisan is an interview series where we dive deeper into the background of the Amazigh artisans who are the backbone of Salam Hello. Our mission is to preserve and share the tradition and symbolism—from our artisans’ hands to your home. Each interview explores their history with the weaving tradition, how and when they were taught and what they like to do beyond the loom.
Rokia leads the artisans of Aït Tigga a Village located in the Siroua region in Morocco. Up until 2021, Aït Tigga was only accessible via an off-road route, so the artisans of the Village would send their rugs to the women of Anzal to sell on their behalf. Thanks to a new road, the artisans of Aït Tigga are now able to sell independently. This collective of 12 artisans weave a variety of rug styles, but their specialty is called Kharita ("map" in Arabic). This complex weaving technique consists of a labyrinthine of geometric shapes and has the same design on both sides, making the rugs reversible.
When did you learn how to weave and who taught you?
I am not sure of the exact age I was when my Mom began to teach me how to weave but if I had to guess I believe I was around eight years old.
I did not attend school when I was growing up, learning how to weave was my form of education.
Before I learned how to sit at the loom, my mom taught me how to card, brush, spin and cut wool. She ensured I knew all the fundamentals before I began the act of weaving.
After learning how to prepare the wool I started to learn the various techniques. I started with Hand-Knot as that’s the easiest and then worked my way through the techniques until I mastered all the varying styles.
By the time I was a teenager I was making rugs on my own and even helping my younger sister and cousins learn how to weave.
Do you have a favorite technique to weave?
I love all the rug styles, each technique allows you to express yourself differently.
If I had to choose I would focus on Glaoui style rugs as it allows me to combine all the techniques into one rug. I love the varying colors and textures of these rugs.
What rug do you cherish the most?
This is a hard question to answer because I think there is beauty in every piece.
I do not have one piece that I cherish but a few of the pieces that I made with my daughter during the COVID lockdown.
My daughter studies far from our Village but during the lockdown she came back home and she had the time to sit with me at the loom and weave alongside me.
Unlike my upbringing, I want my daughter to finish all her schooling but I love when I’m able to find time with her and teach the skills that my Mom taught me.
What do you love to do beyond weaving?
Outside of weaving I love to spend time in the kitchen. I enjoy baking and cooking meals.
Beyond weaving and cooking, spending time with my children is my favorite activity.
Thanks so much for the inspiring convo, Rokia! Shop pieces woven by Rokia and her colleagues below!
Translated by Abdellatif Mouhsine. Please note that some answers may have been edited or condensed for the sake of clarity.