Friday, 27 February 2015

Weavers in Morocco

We followed our Guide through more twisty alleyways, through a few entrances, around another corner or six, and then all of a sudden, popped through a low archway and VOILA, there we were, in another beautifully renovated co-operative building... FULL of colour and cloth of all kinds.
Weavers are traditionally male, and use horizontal looms (as opposed to the vertical looms used by women who weave carpets). In this industry, women typically do the embroidering (somewhere private), while men make the lace, the fabric, and hand-stitch the cloth to make clothing (or in some places, have machinery for the sewing; more often than not, we saw men sewing by hand in their tiny shops along the souk's alleyways).

Thread shops along the way in the souk:

Another narrow alley that may lead to somewhere grand... or not...

...and here we are, another storage facility for colours of all kinds.

Men greeting us in the shop, and MEN AT WORK!

Of course the building itself was gorgeous-- sometimes it was hard to concentrate, the tiles and the hand-carved and painted ceilings were so intricately decorated that everything sort of ran into one another... could not choose a single thing, I wanted it all!

The cloth was generally a mixture of materials: silk (cactus silk), bamboo, cotton (sometiems blended, sometimes a piece was made of one material only), sheeps wool, camel wool, softest of cashmeres, pashminas... and the list goes on.

Of course the head scarf was important-- we were going to the desert after all!

The lower level was all about the fabric or the cloth-- from scarves, to table cloths, to bolts of fabric, purses, pillows, anything one could think of-- while upstairs was devoted to finished articles of clothing.

Hand- embroidered, beaded, beautified!

And of course I had to try a djhellapa.. I was fatima he said. I really did like this colour a lot, but the fabric was too soft (can you imagine?!) for me, I was worried that the beautiful cashmere would get dirty or rip very quickly during the rest of our trip, and because at home, I would use it for work more than anything else, and things get messy with the glass.
I wouldn't mind one for lounging around in now, though!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Herbs and Spices!

The spice co-ops and spice souks were awesome! So many different dried herbs, mixed spices, combinations of greatness to make your food or your life better than ever... these people have it wired!

This grinding stone is still very common for the grinding of seeds and coarser materials to make the fine powder that looks so beautiful in all its piles, indoors or out.

The co-ops offer mixtures of spices in jar-fulls or by weight...

... hard to pick which one to try. This particular co-op was one of many women's co-operatives in Morocco; now that divorce is allowed within the Islamic faith, many women find themselves without support, and being divorced, have a tremendously hard time finding employment. Apparently being a Berber, female, and being divorced makes it three times as difficult in finding employment, so with the help of craft co-operatives, spice co-operatives, etc., women are finding their place in the public sector.

I had to look twice at these... and when I asked what these were used for (just to be sure), the nice lady said that I could brew a great tea from them, that it was good especially if  I was sad or tired or depressed; this would make me happy and relaxed for hours. 
Poppy seeds.

Every time we saw these open-air spice shops, I had to wonder what happened if there was ever a great gust of wind or it rained...

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Sheep and Goats in Africa

One Tree Hill.
This exemplifies what a lot of the landscape is like as soon as coastal areas are left...

..and remarkably, this sort of barren and arid land seems to still support herds of sheep, generally mixed with goats.

For the most part, these are the only times we saw dogs-- with sheep herds; the towns and cities seemed to be full of cats, feral and possibly otherwise, but rarely dogs.

Shepherds travel with their flocks for miles; sometimes a small burro is part of the herd, carrying daily supplies.

Most of the shepherds we encountered were males (both young and old) until we reached the more eastern areas of Morocco; there girls and young women also had employment as shepherds and traveled with their flock.

I think this could be a good job.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


There's a tannery in Fes, that relies on traditional ways of curing, tanning, dying skins into leathers ready to be made into all kinds of beautiful and functional goods. Pigeon poop, natural dyes, water, and airing out on gravestones are the main ingredients for all this colour!

The tannery from above... most likely unchanged in appearance since it was first built.

Dye vats

Water wheel...

...another one...


Dye vats

Laying out to dry on the city walls...

...and the tombstones.


Magically finished, beautiful colour!

Tina being told to smell the bag-- if it stinks it's free! I imagine that summers would be fairly not-so-nice to be around this area because of the odours... but at this time of year, not only was it mostly uncrowded, but also not too bad at all.

Through all the leather goods, the amazing tile work appears everywhere as well.
Gobsmacked by it all!

All this craft and tradition housed in yet again a building renovated with UNESCO funds to preserve this story and to support the co-operative of leather makers.