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Artisan traditions and products: Morocco

As our first journey goes to Marrakech, I would like to introduce to you the brief history of Moroccan artisan traditions and some typical products. Moroccan crafts combine a number of elements from different cultures that have influenced the history and society of the country. Berber traditions, Moorish elements from Andalusia, Arab and Jewish influence and colonial impact from countries like France or Spain all left their mark on what we call Moroccan craft today. It is important to know, that the Moroccan government has started initiatives to maintain traditional crafts, as these are considered cultural and historical heritage. The country is an important producer of traditional, high quality craft, made of local and sustainable materials.


Zellige is a type of tile work, often referred to as the Moroccan mosaic. It is a highly skilled craft, dating back to the 8th century. Coloured ceramic tiles are chiseled into tiny shapes and then set into plaster to create stunning designs. You can see examples of zellige in the interior design of mosques, hammams, madrasas and private homes. Fez is the home of zellige.


Tadelakt is a type of plaster technique that creates a simple but beautifully smooth and attractive finish. It can trace its history back some 4,000 years. Originating in the hills near Marrakech, tadalekt was developed by Berber groups in order to seal water storage cisterns.

Today, the velvety finish is commonly used to decorate walls and places that require a waterproof finish, such as pools, fountains, hammams, and sinks. Moroccan tadelakt is often said to create one of the most beautiful plasterwork finishes anywhere in the world.  


Also known as stucco, geps is a decorative type of plasterwork. The plaster is usually white, though it could be dyed any colour depending on preferences. Highly detailed designs are created with the plaster to add beauty to buildings. 


Tazouakt is the name given to ornate painted wood. Today, you are most likely to see this craft in fine old palaces and mansions. It is commonly used on ceilings, window shutters, and doors. 


Mashrabiyya is another craft technique that uses wood. It is an open lattice of tiny pieces of wood connected to make patterns. Common patterns are stars, diamonds, squares, rectangles, and octagons.


Marquetry is especially common in the coastal town of Essaouira. Using the thuya tree, wood is carved to make beautiful pieces of furniture, such as tables, chairs, and chests, as well as ornamental items like boxes and frames.


Morocco’s artisans create a wealth of stunning items from metal, using various metals and techniques. From larger items of furniture to small accessories and decorative items, you’ll find many gorgeous metal objects in Morocco.


Referred to locally by the French word of damasquinerie, damascene is a striking type of metalwork that is only produced in Meknes. The lengthy artisan process involves cutting and hammering metal sheets to create large shapes.


Morocco has long pottery-making traditions, with Fez and Safi especially renowned for their pottery-producing heritage. Pottery can come in many colours, though blue and white and deep green items are more traditional. Patterns are usually geometric.


Morocco’s weaving history dates back thousands of years. The nation is known for producing exquisite rugs and carpets, with both Arab and Berber designs and techniques found throughout Morocco.


Fez, Meknes, Tetouan, and Rabat are centres for fine embroidery. The practice also has long roots within Berber communities.


Due to the presence of large tanneries, Fez, Marrakech, and Taroudant are especially known for excellent leather goods.

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