Urban Morocco, Part IV – Work

Urban Morocco, Part IV – Work

Berber women weaving carpets. Craftsmen working wood, metals, leather, and textiles. A barber shaving a client on the street. Leather tanners immersed to their knees in multicolored vats. A man throwing sawdust into the furnace that heats water for a hammam.

Nowhere else in the world can you see all these activities being carried out like in the streets of a Moroccan medina. It appears that Moroccans have a propensity for carrying out work in the street or in small laboratories whose doors open right onto the street. This gives visitors a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of the working life of Morocco.

This is especially true of Fes, home to nearly 1,000,000 people, a city that boasts the largest medina in all of the Arab world. Contrary to medinas such as Marrakech, which have moved their artisanal laboratories outside the city to make space for shops catering mostly to tourists, many of Fes’ activities have remained inside the ancient walls that encircle the old city. While this ensures that the city maintains much of its original character, it also creates lots of pollution. One just has to visit the cloth dyers quarter, where residues of the dyeing process, utilizing antimony, color everything black before being flushed from the laboratories and into the street gutters.

I would like to thank Christin McLeod for providing invaluable help in proofreading and editing the text of these articles.

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The Barbershop