View on original Evelina site
DyesLeather drying on rooftops and balconiesTanneries can only be seen from upper floors.Vats of natural dye
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
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,