The Tanneries

On arrival it was the smell that couldn’t go unnoticed! We were greeted with a handful of mint leafs. ‘The Moroccan gas mask’ we were told!

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Pigeon Poo!! That was the horrific smell. They soak the leather the pigeon poo and lime to soften before made into an item, they would then use salt in an attempt to take away the smell, this didn’t work very well. As we walked around we were able to take lots of pictures, however the occasional workman wouldn’t allow us to photograph them. We visited both the Arabic tanneries and the Bereber tanneries.

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The Bereber tanneries consisted of 24 families working together and the Arabic an amazing 36 families. The Berbers would work with the larger animals, such as camels and cows. Where as the Arabics used smaller animals like goats and sheep. All animals are gathered from outside of Marrakech.

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To dye the leather they only use natural colours, such as henna. They use the same colour for a whole week, dying all the leather with the same colour. Then changing it for the next week. It is the easiest and most beneficial way to produce numerous colours, without taking up to much time, recourses and creating waste.

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In the morning the workmen attend to the tanneries and in the afternoon they spend their time in the shops on sewing machines and putting goods together.

The house in which they work in is given to the families by the government in exchange for quality control of their work. This means that the families do not have to pay any rent or tax on the building but must ensure the quality of their goods is kept to a high standard.

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The rugs are made from sheeps wool, each rug has its own individual markings and symbols to show which tribe it has originated from. No two rugs will be found the same.

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The blankets are made from cactus silk and once again dyed using only natural colouring.

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In the market these are the Arabic words which are used when bidding on something:
Isjma = Take it
Halle = Leave it

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