Dinanderie, pottery, ironwork, carpets, leather, jewels, embroidery … Moroccan craftsmanship reflects the personality of the country, its cultural wealth, forged by the many exchanges that have marked the history of the country. More than a hundred professions are directly or indirectly related to this vigorous sector of the Moroccan economy. An institutional brand, Crafts of Morocco, was born in 2006, in order to highlight this Moroccan know-how. Companies, cooperatives, and mono-craftsmen combine their expertise to assert their national wealth together in professional and commercial events in Morocco and abroad.
You will no doubt choose Morocco as the next holiday destination for its handcrafted products. The objects that you will discover “handmade”, in the souks or elsewhere, will inevitably attract all your attention.
Marrakesh is one of the cities, which is recognized worldwide for its traditional crafts. The reality is palpable with all these products, gadgets, souvenirs, Leather Poufs, Leather Bag, etc., combining authenticity, quality, and precision.
Leather, some craftsmen still remember their grandfather, who often came from far away, on foot, with their mounts, to try to sell their leathers in Marrakesh. They laughed over a cup of tea to discuss and negotiate hide prices. In front of this retreat and immersed in the history of the ocher city and of this past where the Berber caravans crossed the mountains and the arid zones to come to sell their leathers in Marrakesh, you can only crack in front of the poufs, bags, suitcases or other, offered in bright tones.
Zellige: the art of handmade Moroccan tile
Inspired by Roman and Byzantine mosaics, Moroccan zellige first made its appearance in the 10th century and evolved during the Merenid Dynasty. Originally used to illustrate luxury and sophistication in the homes of wealthy art patrons, zellige tilework remains the hallmark of Moroccan architecture and design. Zellige craftsmanship can be found gracing floors, walls, columns, staircases, fountains, hammams, and swimming pools throughout Morocco: not only in historical palaces such as Dar Batha in Fes, Bahia Palace in Marrakech, and the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknes but also in more modern structures such as riads and restaurants. Zellige is a key design element in the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca.
The first step for any Moroccan mosaic tilework is to mold and calibrate the square tiles, using the same fine stoneware clay as for Fassi pottery by tiles. Each zellige square is then glazed of a single color and fired according to a specific temperature for each hue. Once the zellige tiles are fired and cooled, they are ready to be shaped and cut by hand. This is a unique characteristic of Moroccan tiles and a shining example of Moroccan craftsmanship: shapes are cut out of hard tiles, rather than being molded in the desired shapes before being fired. More often than not, it is the apprentices who ”cut” zellige tiles by quickly tracing a model piece of zellige onto the tile and then chipping away the extra. A steady and careful touch is needed to chisel out the individual pieces of zellige; the size and weight of the tool are disproportionate to the width of the tile and ultimately, the delicacy of each small shape that emerges. Each craftsman will make his specific shape from the tile, from which the expert craftsmen will ultimately create their masterpieces.