What Do the Colorful Leather Tanneries of Fez Look Like?

By Sakina Kamrudeen | 25, Aug, 2016
What Do the Colorful Leather Tanneries of Fez Look Like?

Fez is renowned for its leather products, and equally renowned as the city that houses some of the most ancient and colorful leather tanneries in the world. When in Morocco, a visit to the city of Fez should be on one’s itinerary.  Therefore while there, a visit to a Fez tannery especially the most Ancient Tannery of Fez - the Chouara Tannery, which is nearly a thousand years old, is a must. 

The Ancient Tanneries of Fez

These traditional Moroccan leather tanneries, which seem to be hidden in the heart of the city’s medina,still use traditional and manual methods of making leather. Hence, if you expect to see any modern machinery, you are going to be sorely disappointed!These tanneries alsocontinue to retain the form and architecture of centuries past, and visiting a Fez tannery will be a one of a kind experience. Walking through the ancienttanneries of Fez, especially the Chouara Tannery will take you back to an era that is long past. 

The Colorful Sights of the Traditional Moroccan Tanneries

When making a visit to the Tanning Pits in Fez, Morocco expect to be greeted by countless stone vats filled with a never-ending range of dyes, liquids and other ingredients required to process the raw hides of goats, camels, sheep and cows. The vats filled with dyes made from natural vegetable and fruit dyes will surely make for a very colorful sight.

Every day, the tanners who work at these traditionalMoroccan tanneries, take the raw hides through a process of soaking, stripping, drying, soaking again and finally dyeing – or tanning, as it is known. There are plenty of people around as all this work is done manually.

These traditional Moroccan leather tanneries take the term ‘traditional’ very seriously. Hence, even today, they continue to use natural ingredients to make their dyes and use natural sources such as cows’ urine and pigeon droppings as ingredients to clean, soak and soften these hides. 

Visiting the Traditional Moroccan Leather Tanneries in Fez

The best way to see these traditional leather tanneries is at a high level. Hence, when visiting the leather shops, ask the salesperson if you can take a look at the tannery from their terrace. They will also act as your guide and explain the process and the ingredients used to make the dyes. Remember, some of the natural ingredients will give off a stench, so take some perfume with you. Alternately, the leather shops that surround the tanneries also provide visitors with fresh mint leaves as one enters to combat the pungent smell of ammonia.

Keep in mind that the medina in Fez is quite tricky and confusing with its narrow streets and closely placed shops. Hence, take a guide with you to ensure you don’t get lost while looking to have a fun time.

Moroccan Leather Goods from the Tanneries of Fez

These traditional leather tanneries sell their finished product to other craftsmen and merchants who turn these very environmentally friendly finished leather into a wide range of beautiful and high quality leather products such as hand bags, wallets, coats, cushions, belts, boots, hats,shoes, and slippers.

Since, Fez is the city of leather, expect to see leather being dried on terraces and hanging off walls. It is a sight quite unlike any other. Visiting the tanneries in Fez is part of the leather goods shopping experience, so make most of your visit and don’t forgo a look at the Tanning Pits in Fez along with a bit of shopping for the famed Moroccan leather goods from the tanneries of Fez.

Sakina has over 10 years of experience in the field of corporate communications; having worked for a leading Annual Report Production House dealing with top corporates of Sri Lanka and overseas, and later as the Group Communications Specialist for a Sri Lankan conglomerate for their overseas plantations business. She is well-versed in the production process of annual reports, sustainability reports, corporate videos and other corporate communication media. She also has experience in Social Media Marketing and works to increase and improve social media presence of corporates and small niche market businesses. Today, she works as a freelance writer and undertakes consultations on corporate communications and social media related projects. She enjoys writing for blogs on topics of interest.

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