Marrakech is shiny, luxuriant and it is also very eclectic. Its touristy and splendid side in the medina comes with a modest quarter in the west of the city. During my trip to Marrakech I took an Ateliers d’ailleurs tour through so-called Pottery Village. Bargaining for dirhams is no funny routine here. It’s a struggle for survival.
We started our tour with a traditional potter. He has done this job for 49 years now. His right leg was stiff and he had a hard time sitting down at his place. But was he happy? Yes. I have hardly ever seen someone so in peace with what he was doing. He said clay is like love. Only the right fusion of two pieces works.
Crafting in Pottery Village mostly serves the residents’ personal needs. The clay itself, however, is won in masses here.
One of the reasons I travel is the man below. The day was very sticky, the air dull. This man had dug for clay for hours. When I asked our translator whether I might take a photo of him, the man immediately wiped off the mud and – he smiled. Completely moved, I said “شكر “, which means “thank you” in Arabic.
On our next stop we saw how rattan pieces are made. On the picture you can see the oldest man of the family. His sons, too, worked in the little atelier, which was also their home. After many impressions we were invited for fresh mint tea (with the traditionally high amount of sugar, of course).
At the end we visited a tile workshop. If you have ever wondered where the decor in hammams comes from, you have now found the place. It was amazing to see how much time and attention to detail comes into play here.
After three so very interesting hours we were brought back to Marrakech. I found the foundation by pure chance and was completely happy we spent some more money on it. The tour was not only highly informative, some of the dues were also donated to the traditional craftsmen and their families.
You can find all the details for the Pottery Village and other tours here: