Our annual family holiday was spent in Morocco this year. As you can imagine I have many pics of this fascinating country. I want to show you a few of the textiley things we saw.
Above is a display in a pastmentarie shop of handmade braided belts ready for the discerning bride to select from. Many of these pastmentarie shops could be found together in every medina. They are filled to the ceilings with braids, tassels, cords, cloth covered with sequins…. Every one an Aladdin’s Cave.
Here is our wonderful guide, Tahar, explaining how the door into a house/riad works and what all of the symbolic embellishments mean.
But look at what he is wearing over his clothes. It is the traditional Berber unisex onesie, called a djellaba. Everyone was wearing one because it was cold.
Tahar’s djellaba had beautiful braiding along the front opening and all of the seams were embellished.
A braider at work in his shop making and attaching braid to a djellaba. I don’t know if you can see all of those threads he is manipulating while he sews. It is one of the many, many traditional, specialised skilled jobs still being practiced in Morocco. This is a man’s job.
Our driver, Mohammed, had my favourite djellaba. He comes from the High Atlas mountains where his mother spun and wove (women’s work) sheep’s wool, maybe goat as well, cloth for his djellaba and his uncle made the braids. It is a rich brown colour, letting people know that Mohammed is an eligible bachelor. I was so engrossed listening to Mohammed talk about his beautiful djellaba I didn’t think to take a picture.
While walking the dim, narrow streets of a medina one has to take care not to trip or be garrotted by the braid maker’s tool at work. When he needs to make cord he puts his twisting machine out on the street because there is not enough room in his shop to stretch out the thread to make the meters of cord needed to make a braid.
This is the only woman I ever saw making cord. I thought she was very clever to use the holes left by the construction of the ancient city wall to hold the sticks she wrapped the thread around. She walked back and forth along the wall warping up the sticks before taking one out of the hole and twisting it to make the cord.
More posts on Morocco to come.