It is no small comfort that even in this 21st century fast-paced immediate gratification world, there are still those who practice skills that require infinite patience and sometimes a life time of training. In addition to the artisans profiled in my previous post, we saw masters of other crafts producing exquisite works.
Ceilings, walls and doors are adorned with Zouaq, traditional Moroccan painting that uses geometric and biomorphic motifs.
Intricately carved moldings, window screens and balconies grace many of the buildings in Fez. We were lucky to peek inside a riad in the medina undergoing major renovations.
Artisans from Fez created plaster work like this at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City (you can see them at work here).
We took a break for a refreshing mint tea and watched the world pass by on Place Seffarine accompanied by the sound of artisans hammering intricate designs on brass.
No trip to Fez would be complete without visiting a tannery. The distinctive smell can be overwhelming, so visitors are given some sprigs of lightly crushed mint.
We visited Chouara, newly re-opened after extensive renovations (the largest of the three tanneries in Fez, it dates to the 11th century). Animal hides are prepared by soaking in limestone vats of water, cow urine, pigeon excrement and quick lime, beaten to a pulp by hand and foot before being colored with all-natural dyes.
I had high hopes of multi-colored vats, but all the hides were yellow dyed with saffron – considered the most valued and traditionally used to babouche, the locals’ preferred footwear.
Our last stop of the day was where Tijanni weavers where generations have woven textiles on foot-powered looms.
All in all, a veritable feast for the eyes and the soul. Next up: the culinary delights of Fez. Stay tuned!