Fez, Morocco, is world-renowned for its handmade produce. Some of the biggest of these are the textiles that the city creates; hundreds of items each year. Many tours that take you round the medina will often stop off in huge ornate riads, where you are sat down, given mint tea, and then showered with endless displays of the products they have on offer. Aside from the certain amount of pressure to buy that comes with this, it’s not a bad way to shop.
The owner and their assistants lay out various rugs and carpets, all different sizes, colours and materials, and made in different styles, resulting in some of the most luxurious textiles on the planet. In many of these establishments, the owners are open to haggling – but beware that due to the fact they are handmade right there in Fez, there’s not much for less than around 200 euros.
During our visit to one of the larger retailers, we were invited up to the rooftop to see the women in action as they made a rug. It involves an endless process of knots, but these women are such pros that they complete the task at incredible speeds. We were given a go at making a knot, which I carried out successfully but the experts would have done dozens in the time it took me to do one. The silks are made in a similar way, with a huge contraption and weaves the tiny threads with the help of a man using every one of his limbs to push or pull.
Many people go to Morocco purely to deck their houses out with exotic textiles, by either making room for them in their luggage or sending them home. A trip to Fez to see these made is worth is anyway, even if you can’t afford to purchase anything.
Photos contributed by Sophie Derrington.