February 3, 2010
January 26, 2010
traditionally fondouks were places where artisans or merchants would set up their workshops and studios on the bottom floor from which they would conduct their daily business, and they would inhabit the top two floors. nowadays, they don’t quite function as they once did, but you can still manage to find some remnants around the outskirts of the marrakech medina. one such place is the coopérative de tissage, or fabric collective.
now, an artists collective is a good way to see the artisans actually working in their craft, and allows you to buy straight from them rather than a third party in a souk. they often have set prices for their goods and it is guaranteed that a portion of the profits will go to the crafts person. we were lucky enough to find one where our ‘guide’ was very knowledgable and helpful (but i can’t remember his name!). he explained the whole process of weaving to us, as well as describing a bit about the people that work there, such as that it is a family business and you can currently find three generations there. having arrived just in time for afternoon mint tea (perfect timing on our part), we were invited to a cup. i can’t really stress how much tea plays a part in their lives, we would oftentimes see people walking through the streets with a teapot and glasses bringing it back to their place of work.
i realize of course that they give you tours so you feel more obliged to buy something at the end… i know this, i wasn’t born yesterday… but they make a very compelling argument, and the textiles are so pretty! especially when your new scarf has all the colors of the atlas mountain region.
January 25, 2010
you can’t go to marrakech without finding yourself in djemaa el fna square… even when you aren’t looking for it, people will walk past you, point and tell you how to get there (almost as if you have wandered out of the tourist parameters and must be corralled back to the designated places).
having that said, it’s a must see. it’s where you find snake charmers, fresh-squeezed orange juice stands, henna tattoo artists, storytellers, music circles, dried fruit and nut stands, monkey walkers, cross dressing belly dancers and people with chickens on their head. then add, on top of all of that, the food carts that roll in around five o’clock every day and set up shop, calling out in four different languages to every passerby that their cart (insert number) is the best!
and there you have it.
i would definitely recommend trying one of the food stalls, and even more than that, getting an afternoon mint tea at café argana, where you can sit on the terrace and overlook all of the carts roll in and set up.
our last night in marrakech we found ourselves once again in ‘the big square’ walking around and taking it all in one last time. we noticed a large group of locals standing around in a circle which immediately piqued our interest. it was only a matter of thirty seconds or so before we were dragged into the middle and given front row seats to a music circle. at first we had no idea what was going on, but we deduced that the band refused to play until they got enough tips. here is what our money bought us:
January 25, 2010
the dyer’s souk in marrakech was a must see for us. we arrived in the morning to see the men with blue arms dying and hanging the fabric from every possible inch of space they could find. they used a variety of natural dyes in order to get such vibrant colors. we then headed up to the roof of a nearby building in order to get an aerial view of the fabric drying in the sun.
January 24, 2010
i will admit that i went to morocco in order to be inspired design-wise by every object. instead, i found a lot of the objects were junk and had become mass-produced due to tourism and other such reasons. however, i found what i was looking for in the tile and woodwork that can be found in any of the great buildings, but also in the randomness of places… the communal fountain that you you would see people washing in, the forgotten door at the end of an alleyway, the ceiling of a hammam. here are a few patterns i found.
there was one store that we stumbled into which did carry beautifully embroidered clothing and stunning bead work… only to find out that it was owned by a french man, go figure. anyways, they carry home products as well as clothing and they have a website. if you find yourself in morocco you should discover it too.
January 24, 2010
since we have studied textile design, part of our trip was devoted to seeing various treatments and weavings of textiles. in essaouira, one man invited us in to see his loom, situated in the upstairs loft of a ten by ten foot room. it was evident that he took great pride in his work, and wanted to share that with us… so we climbed the ladder and took a peek at how he spends his days.
again, i took a short video, but it really doesn’t capture everything that is going on with the machine as it happens…. there wasn’t a lot of room to move around. he is basically tying the string to a spool (shuttle) which will be shot back and forth in order to create the weft part of the cloth, the warp strings are the taunt strings that are tied before the weaving can begin.
January 22, 2010
when you find yourself to be one of only two girls (and you are with the other one) amongst a large group of men standing around, you very quickly start subconsciously assessing the situation around you. things you might consider are time of day, the country you are in, just how many people there are etc, etc.
the answers to my questions:
middle of the day
approximately 100 men
a very large pile of random objects
everyone standing around considering the large pile of random objects
two girls watching everyone stand around staring at the large pile of random objects
after about five minutes or so, the auction started.
each item was paraded around the circle a few times, sometimes stopping to be examined, sometimes to be sold. there were shoes, tv sets, toys and my favorite, an opened umbrella…opened, just to make sure you knew that it was a nice umbrella.
this was one of two times in morocco that someone grabbed me and led me into a large crowded circle so that i could see the events close up. the other being a music circle at place jemaa el fna in marrakech.
if i had known even a little bit of arabic, i probably would have bid on that umbrella.