My last few days have been in Marrakech with a mad day trip to Tiznit which is the last major town before the Western Sahara. It was so worth the hours of driving. Most women were dressed in what can only be described as saris but shorter with the pallu wrapped around the head and over the face so only the eyes show. Others had on traditional skirts with white embroidered dupattas covering their hair and faces. All very different from the djellaba I had seen elsewhere. I so wanted to take a photograph but thought it too culturally insensitive. The silver was overwhelming in choice and quantity. It’s understandable but sad to see Berber families coming to sell their family silver (gold is considered evil so this is their wealth), presumably to buy the cheap “Made in China” goods being sold on the streets. I couldn’t understand the negotiations but the silversmith clearly won on price. I chose some nice wearable pieces for Arastan.
And of course we saw lots and lots of Argan growing (although no goats on trees this time). The plant is very resistant to heat and is vital in fighting desertification in Southern Morocco. The oil has many properties and is used by Berbers to heal scars and help with rheumatic pain. It is high in Vitamin E so good for wrinkles and is also used for cooking and fighting cholesterol. Argan oil is actually the first African product to receive “Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)” status, i.e. like champagne! I bought some to try out on myself!
In Marrakech, I found a designer who makes gorgeous high quality furnishings (with matching prices) inspired by the traditional djellaba, i.e. using flannel and handmade borders. Whilst I cannot source from her given her price points, she was quite happy to tell me how to reproduce what she does! I have been astonished by people’s generosity with “competitive information” and am very grateful for it. I also did my final selection of carpets and was told by the shop owner that I bargain like a Berber woman! I take that as a compliment.