Head to toe, heart to soul
A collection of Moroccan crafts
Moroccan culture is a blend of Berber, Arab, Sephardi Jews, West African and European influences. In this exhibition, we collect the Moroccan handcrafts techniques that have been inherited from generations. These techniques can be traced back to thousands years ago, and still be practiced in local market today. Although some of the crafts have lost their original usage, they can be seen as folk art or exotic decoration nowadays. They are also a reflection of moroccan artisans' life sprit - joy of craft.
Woodturning is the craft of using the wood lathe with hand-held tools to cut a shape that is symmetrical around the axis of rotation. Between 500 and 1500 A.D., turned wooden vessels served as the everyday bowls and cups of most of the population of Europe.
The wood turner works sitting, using both his feet as his hands. The dexterity and speed of the wood turner, the skill of his foot to hold the tool, leave the viewer amazed with astonishment and admiration. The best beautiful example of turned wood is the famous moucharabich. Cedar is the most commonly used wood spices, but ebony, lemon, cedar, or walnut can also be used.
Zellige is mosaic tilework made from individually chiseled geometric tiles set into a plaster base. This form of Islamic art is one of the main characteristics of Moroccan architecture. The tessellations in the mosaics are currently of interest in academic research in the mathematics of art. Zellige making is considered an art in itself. The art is transmitted from generation to generation by maâlems (master craftsmen). A long training starts at childhood to implant the required skills. As of 2018, at an artisan school in Fez with 400 enrolled students only 7 students learn how to make zellige.
Wood carving is one of the oldest arts of humankind. The use of wood exists as a universal in human culture as both a means to create or enhance technology and as a medium for artistry. Woodworking results in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object. The use of different woods such as ebony or box, inlaid so as to emphasize the design, combined with the ingenious richness of the patterns, give this class of woodwork an almost unrivaled splendour of effect. Carved ivory is also often used for the filling in of the spaces. The Arabs are past masters in the art of carving flat surfaces in this way.
Anthropologists believe copper to be the first metal used by humans due to its softness and ease to manipulate. The oldest archaeological evidence of copper mining and working was the discovery of a copper pendant in northern Iraq from 8,700 BCE. Copper was hammered until it became brittle, then heated so it could be worked further. This technology is dated to about 4000-5000 BCE.
The potter's wheel was probably invented in Mesopotamia by the 4th millennium BCE, but spread across nearly all Eurasia and much of Africa. Decoration of the clay by incising and painting is found very widely, and was initially geometric, but often included figurative designs from very early on.
Argan oil is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the argan tree (Argania spinosa L.) that is endemic to Morocco. In Morocco, argan oil is used to dip bread in at breakfast or to drizzle on couscous or pasta. It is also used for cosmetic purposes. The production of argan oil has always had a socioeconomic function. At present, its production supports about 2.2 million people in the main argan oil-producing region, the Arganeraie.
Babouche Raffia Shoes
The French 'babouche' comes from the Arabic 'babush' or Persian 'papush', the flat, slipper-like style with an exaggerated point at the toes, which became fashionable amongst 17th-century French courtiers. Raffia is a fibrous material the leaves of the raffia palm tree.
Tanning was being carried out by the inhabitants of Mehrgarh in Pakistan between 7000 and 3300 BC.Historically the actual tanning process used vegetable tanning. In some variations of the process, cedar oil, alum, or tannin was applied to the skin as a tanning agent. As the skin was stretched, it would lose moisture and absorb the agent.
There are some indications that weaving was already known in the Paleolithic Era, as early as 27,000 years ago. The weavings, made from plant fibres, are dated between 10100 and 9080 BCE. Before the Industrial Revolution, weaving was a manual craft and wool was the principal staple.