Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Made in Morocco

When you explore Fès, you will be struck by the handicrafts on display.
In the showrooms, you will find any number of fabulous items; leather, silver, pottery and more.
But take a peak behind the showrooms and you will really be enthralled.

Moroccan artisans have been creating these treasures the same way for hundreds of years.
In this ancient guild society, skills and jobs are passed down from generation to generation. 
They are using methods that have been unchanged for centuries.

We visited both a pottery and a tannery during our stay in Fès.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

Morocco is well-known for its pottery.  We were proudly shown around the workrooms.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

We watched the artists handpainting geometric and arabesque designs on dishes of all shapes and sizes.
I so wanted to sit down and join them.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

We brought home a miniature Moroccan Tagine which is a Berber cooking vessel with a conical lid.
Many of our wonderful Moroccan meals were served in these.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco


Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

Isn't she lovely?  I asked if I could take her photograph,
she nodded sweetly and then primped for a moment, tucking a stray lock of hair into her scarf.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

Tiles are cut down into intricate shapes and then turned into the most beautiful, mosaic fountains.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

Fès is particularly famous for creating blue and white pieces using cobalt oxide.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

The showroom was full of pieces with beautiful designs influenced by centuries of Islamic culture.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

I had read much about the famous tanneries of Fès.
The city once had hundreds of them in the Medina, but now there are only a few left.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

In the Leather Souk, you will find one of the oldest tanneries in the world.
In a method that is unchanged since the 11th Century, the hides of goats and sheep
are cleaned and dyed by hand (or foot) without the help of any machinery.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

The white stone vessels contain a concoction of water, limestone and acidic pigeon droppings.
The hides are soaked there first to soften them and remove any tissue or hair.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

Then they are soaked in the vats of dye and cow's urine to give them distinctive colors.
Traditionally, the tubs would contain natural dyes; indigo for blue, henna for orange or saffron for yellow.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco


The workers spend hours standing in these liquids, working the hides with their feet.
Chemicals are now sometimes used to the detriment of their health.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

The hides are then spread out on the rooftops to dry before being trimmed and sewn into
shoes, coats, bags and foot stools.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

The tannery is surrounded by showrooms with terraced balconies.
We were led up into the top of one to watch the work and take photographs.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

I had read about the strong odors and that visitors are often given a spring of mint to help them deal with the smell.
It did smell but I don't remember it being that bad.
We were there in April so the weather was mild.  It may be worse in the summer.

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

The leather goods are absolutely beautiful.  Rows and rows of shoes!
Unfortunately, my husband is a firm believer in just taking away the experience and sees no need to shop.
(But, honestly, it breaks my heart that I didn't purchase these shoes.) 

Pottery and Tannery of Fes, Morocco

The tannery was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.
One more reason to visit this incredible city.


Don't you think I should have purchased some shoes while in Morocco?



21 comments:

  1. Love how you captured a picture of a local. I'd be too scared to ask for a pic.

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  2. I think she got a kick out of it. She didn't seem to mind at all. I just think she is so pretty.

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  3. I love the whole process of showing the leather and then the shoes - that is super interesting! Kind of beautiful too in those pics.

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  4. It's just a unique place. I can't believe they actually get in those vats!

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  5. Wow, what a stunning, colorful place! Morocco is absolutely stunning with its vibrancy!

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  6. You stole my heart with the pile of kittens photo ! Do you like the way your tagine cooks ? I have been contemplating buying one as an upgrade from the small dutch oven I use to make chicken tagine with apricots.

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  7. If my husband said I couldn't buy shoes, I'd buy two pairs to spite him! No, only kidding but seriously though, two amazing places to visit, I'm very envious.

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  8. All of the colours, it looks so incredible. The tannery is really interesting, and quite nice that they still keep it pretty traditional. I feel so many traditions get lost so it's great to still see some around.

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  9. Yep! You needed those shoes!! ;) That tannery is fascinating! Oh that pile of kitties is precious!! And that lady is just so pretty!!

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  10. Those fountains! Those kittens! That lady! Those shoes!!! Ah I love it!!!

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  11. Sand in my SuitcaseJanuary 29, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Oh, look at all those shoes! Just another reason to visit Fes, right? Great post...

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  12. Yes! You totally should have bought the shoes! When traveling we think nothing of spending money on hotels, food and transportation, but purchasing from local vendors is just as important. Not only do you have a wonderful gift to take home with you to remember your trip, but you are helping the local businesses with your purchase.
    Also, I love the photos! I can't wait to visit someday.

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  13. See, now that's the perfect argument! I will try this next time & see how it goes. I always defer to him and walk away thinking NOOOO! Then months later it will pop up randomly during an argument. "Well, remember that bowl in Key West? What about that?" He just looks at me like WTH? 

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  14. So many reasons to visit. Shoe are always a good incentive. Thanks so much for reading & commenting. Do you happen to have twitter or a blog? I'd love to connect with another traveler. 

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  15. Thank, Tina. I'm still kickin' myself about those shoes. I think Morocco must be a photographers dream!!

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  16. It still breaks my heart. They were soo cute!!!

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  17. We just bought a little one for decoration. I wanted a real one so bad, but too hard to get it home safely. I've heard they are great!

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  18. So much color and life. It was almost overwhelming.

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  19. Awesome pictures! This is another place in Morocco I would love to visit to see the tannery. Such beautiful colours.

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  20. I would definitely suggest Fez for a visit. It was amazing and so much to experience!

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Thanks for commenting. I love to hear from you!