With rugs unfurled

part II of “The Magic Carpet Project”

With Rugs Unfurled is a self-produced 20-minute documentary about the social relations surround artisan rug production in Morocco. From the mounting of the handspun wool on the loom to the haggling over rugs in a high end bazaar, this film shows the long road Moroccan rugs take from the weaver to the dealer, and the contradictions and traditions that emerge as the rug changes hands. 

Le film s'intéresse à l'état de l'artisanat des tapis dans le Nord du Maroc et à la vie des travailleurs qui en assurent la création et la circulation. La pression des produits d'imports, le marché touristique et le désintérêt culturel sont autant de facteurs qui mettent en danger le savoir-faire traditionnel du tissage des tapis de laine. Au-delà de l'intérêt patrimonial, le film permet d'ouvrir la réflexion sur les conditions socio-économiques et sur les rapports de genre dans cette industrie.

With Rugs Unfurled, or "wa zarabi mabthutha", takes its title from the Qur’an’s Surah Ghashiyah, verse 16, where it describes the paradise to come. Zarbiya (pl. zarabi, Arabic) is almost uniquely used in North Africa to describe rugs, though the word appears in the Arabic of the Qur’an. North African zarabi, such as those made in Morocco, are folded rather than rolled. As they circulate from weaver to washer, from buyer to seller to buyer, they are folded and unfolded again. In this circulation, zarabi take on new meanings for the hands that unfold them. What happens to these meanings after the next fold?  The pressure of an increasingly international and touristic market as well as general cultural disinterest for the traditional craft has led to a situation where the savoir-faire of wool rug-making is declining. With Rugs Unfurled traces the circulation of these rugs in Morocco, and opens up reflects]ions on socio-economic conditions of craft workers and gender division of labor in traditional industries. 


Directed & Produced by: George Bajalia & Tom Casserly

Editor: Hugo Massa

 Director of Photography: Ben Derico

 On-Location Sound: Jesse Bowman

Additional Cinematography & Audio Recording: Hugo Massa

Additional Editing & Title Design: Ben Derico

 Color Correction & Grading: Paul Galati

Audio Mix: Jesse Bowman

Executive Producers:

Mark Hannoun, Rugs from Morocco

George Bajalia & Tom Casserly

Aziz Amraoui

Mark Hannoun

Ahmed Arryan

Adil Marouani

Ito Bouaaraar

Lakbira Benazzouz

 With Support From:

The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events 3Arts Program

The Department of Anthropology at Columbia University

Center for the Study of Ethnicy and Race, Columbia University


Janet Murphy                          Heather Gilbert

Austin Perry                            Maryam Jamdishi

Sandra Ossi                             Nadine Salem

Elaine Salem                           Ray Driver

Susan and Jack Raine              Pam Murray

Corol Hammell                       Macky Weaver

George A. Bajalia                    Diane Salem Bajalia

Bill Koch                                  Jason Fraier

Joseph Seay                            Gene Curtin

Lisa Roberts                            Taylor Smith

Shadia Salem                          Julie Stagliano

Barbara Whitman                   Jesse Bowman

Marcia Festen                         Jamil Khoury

L.C. Bernadine                         Malik Gillani

Linda and Joe Hassan             Lyn and Dave Montgomery

Mike and Sue Akel Ray Driver

Special Thanks To:

Zakaria Alilech                        Abdelfettah Marouani

Hassan Amraoui                     Omar Chennafi

Mark Holbrook                        Cherif Brahim Tidjanni

Yassine and Brahim                Zakia Saher

John Davison                           Richard Martin

Mohammed Mikou                 Rita Arraki

Salwa Aarab                            Mouna Rmiki

Bouteyna Mahmoud               Hannoun Rugs from Morocco

Bleu de Fes Rugs Tangier

The Amraoui Family & Gite Nerrahte

 We’d also like to thank:

Hugo Massa                            Joe Lukawski

Dr. Margaret McLagan           Anna Bahow

Mary Morrissette                    Jared Andrukanis

Dr. Brinkley Messick               Eric Branholm

Hélène Quinou                        Leslie Sabiston

Salma Hargai                          Frank Vellenga

Maggie Doherty                      Laurent Foulon

Youssef Benkirane

The Media and Anthropology Working Group at Columbia University


“Hna”, by Oum, album: Zarabi (2015), Loft Music and Music Development Company

 Music graciously provided by:

Oum and Music Development Company

Translations: Zakaria Alilech

 Filmed in Morocco: June 2014, June-July 2015