Morocco leather tanning
1-The magic of the transformation of skin to leather in Morocco
2-Discover the complex stages of Moroccan leather handcrafts of high quality
3-Journey to the heart of the Moroccan artisanal tannery
Imagine yourself on the busy streets of the city of Marrakech, Morocco. You are struck by the vibrant scents and colors that surround you
You follow your nose to a small shop hidden in the town's narrow streets. And you are greeted by the sound of machinery and the clanking of tools. You are in an artisanal tannery, where talented craftsmen work tirelessly to create exceptional quality leather.
For centuries, Morocco has been recognized for its production of high-quality leather. The leather industry is an important pillar of the Moroccan economy and an integral part of the country's culture and history.
In this article, we'll take you behind the scenes of handcrafted leather made in Morocco and show you the intricate and painstaking steps that go from rawhide to finished products of high quality.
We will also introduce you to the different types of leather produced in Morocco and its use in making various items.
The Stages of Handmade Leather in Morocco
Abdejalil is a talented craftsman who works in the beautiful city of Marrakech. With years of experience in the tanning craft, he is known for his top-quality sheepskins. But how does he manage to get these skins so perfect? Here are the steps of its production process.
1_ Buy sheepskin
Abdejalil buys sheepskins from suppliers who come from the cities of Benimellal, Agadir and Marrakech. He keeps them for 7 to 10 days in perfect condition through the use of salt.
2_ Removing salt and opening skin pores
Then, he takes the skins to a cistern where he washes them to remove the salt and open the pores of the skin. Then, he exposes them to the sun to dry them before the next step, which lasts about two days.
3_ Giving strength and thickness to skins
Abdejalil then transports the skins to a cistern containing lime and sodium sulfide. They remain for 10 to 12 days, the sodium sulfide is used to remove the hairs while the lime makes them thicker.
4_ Reduce the thickness of the skins
He then transfers them to another cistern filled only with lime, which makes them even thicker and stronger. He then washes them in a large washing machine by hand to remove the lime before moving on to the next step.
5_ Use of pigeon remains
Abdejalil moves the skins to another cistern containing the remains of pigeons, so they lose thickness and they return to their original form. After that, he must work them with his feet and notice the difference regularly to prevent them from losing their fibers or tearing.
6_ The magic of dyeing
After that, He washes the hides in the large washing machine and places them in a cistern containing salt, wheat bran and acids for about 4 days. Once they got dried, he places them in another tank containing wheat bran and works them again with his feet for about 8 days.
7_ The ultimate touch of perfection
After that, he places the skins in a cistern called "Afedli" using tanning material for about a day, then takes them out and lets them dry before cutting them in half to make large pieces. He then puts them back into Afedli using even more tanning material for 3-4 days.
8_ Selling the Hides for Crafting Bags and Other Items
After Abdeljalil soaks the skins in water for 12 hours, he begins to rub them with a sharp tool. Once he is done, the skins are ready to be used and Abdeljalil sells them to various artisans in the old town of Marrakech.
9_ Handmade bags and accessories
One of them is Mr. Omar, a professional leather craftsman.
Mr. Omar uses the skins to make jackets, but there are men who use them to make leather bags by painting them in different colors and stitching them together with Berber carpets to form a large leather bag. Artisans sell their goods to merchants in the leather market and outside the medina, who sell them to individuals and buyers around the world.
It is important to emphasize that each stage of the manufacture of artisanal leather in Morocco is crucial and requires great attention and a highly skilled workforce. Thanks to the use of traditional methods and the quality of the raw materials that Moroccan leather is recognized worldwide for its durability and beauty.
10_ Morocco leather hide
What are the different types of leather produced in Morocco?
Morocco is known for producing different types of leather, each with their own characteristics and uses.
- Goat leather: soft and supple, goat leather is ideal for making flexible and lightweight items, such as handbags.
- Sheepskin: thicker and more resistant, sheepskin is often used to make belts or dress shoes.
- Cowhide: Thick and sturdy, cowhide is perfect for items that require high durability, such as wallets or backpacks.
In addition to these more common types of leather, Morocco is also famous for producing luxury leather, such as crocodile, lizard or python. These rare and precious skins are used to make high-quality, high-fashion items.
What are the advantages of the Moroccan tannery ?
The Moroccan tannery has many assets that allow it to produce quality leather.
- A flexible production system that can be adapted to the specific needs of customers.
- Moroccan craftsmen are highly skilled, with great expertise and precision in their work.
- They often use traditional knowhow which guarantee the quality and durability of the leather industry
- Ideal climatic conditions for leather production, with constant sunshine and heat throughout the year.
- Quality raw materials, including a wide variety of animal skins available on site.
The impact of international demand on the leather industry in Morocco
Moroccan leather is very popular internationally, and the country exports its products to many countries. However, competition with other leather-producing countries, such as India or China, can be tough. This is why it is important to preserve and enhance leather craftsmanship in Morocco, in order to maintain this ancestral industry as the country's cultural and economic heritage.
Local leather craftsmen
This is Abdeljalil, the young man who has helped Atlas-artisan team discover all the details about leather tanning, a hard working man who keeps this beautiful craft alive and he is willing to transform it to next generations
In summary, the artisanal leather industry in Morocco is rich in history and culture and plays an important role in the country's economy. Using traditional techniques and a highly skilled workforce, Moroccan craftsmen transform the skin into quality leather, ranging from goatskin to luxury leather. Despite the international competition, it is important to preserve and enhance leather craftsmanship in Morocco, in order to maintain this ancestral industry as the country's cultural and economic heritage.