Leather making in Morocco

View on original Evelina site

DSCF1570DyesDSCF1572DSCF1573DSCF1575Leather drying on rooftops and balconiesDSCF1576Tanneries can only be seen from upper floors.DSCF1579Vats of natural dyeDSCF1580DSCF1582DSCF1591DSCF1595DSCF1599DSCF1605DSCF1608

Hi,

This is one of the few Tannery complexes in the medina walls of Fez. This is where leather is made-old school style. Fez is world famous for leather. The leather making processes remain unchanged for more than 1000 years therefore since the medieval times.

Simply being near the tannery area, there is a pungent stench of animal excrement often used as a softening agent. The odor is noticeable when approaching the tannery from the medina alleys especially on a hot day. Often times, there are mint leaves to mask the strong smell. The tanneries are where sheep, cows, goats and camels hides are soaked to be able to remove the hair. In these tanneries the men work waist or thigh deep in natural and colorful dye and hand churn the leathers for suppleness.

Dye colors made from plants and minerals:

Poppy Flower is used for red

Cedar wood is used for brown

Henna for orange

Mint for green

Mascara for black

Saffron for yellow- quite expensive and applied by hand

The process:

Hides are soaked in vats of dye with the chosen color dye. Skins are dried and then soaked again.  Later the leather is distributed and sold in leather shops, factories or manufactured for exports.

The person who showed us this tannery was a leather shop owner selling jackets, bags, belts, shoes, boots and traditional Moroccan shoes called babouches.  As you walk in the shop, they ask you if your are interested in the history of the leather and offer to show you the tannery life. This is in hopes of making a sale to tourists. While showing us the tannery we were briefed with the captivating process and history of old school leather making in Morocco.

Until next time,

Evelina

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9 thoughts on “Leather making in Morocco

  1. This is really wonderful. Like a stroll through the National Geographic magazine I read as a kid. Moroccan leather goods, the curtain peeled back to show the people making and dyeing the leather. Imagine it was done like this for generations….

    Like

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