Fine Moroccan Ceramics & Pottery
Besides Moroccan carpets, textiles, and other handicrafts, Morocco has become known all across North Africa and Europe for its pottery and ceramics. The three most known regions are Safi, Fez, Meknes, and Sale near the capital city of Rabat. Each region has its own style and color schemes. Many Moroccans argue that the best pottery with the most refined artistic flavor is in Safi where ceramics have had centuries to be perfected.
In Morocco, small cooperatives of potters are appearing in nearly every region. From ceramic tagines to water jugs, the useful wares have now become hot tourist items, which has only increased the demand and production. Two of the most common cities for travelers in Morocco to purchase ceramics are in Fez and Meknes. The pottery of the region is a light-greenish color and is rooted in the ceramic styles of Safi.
The pottery in Morocco undergoes the same process as it might anywhere in the world. The potter first works the clay on a spinning wheel. The process can take anywhere from ten minutes for an item like a bowl, to more than three hours for something as large as a jug. The molded clay is then set outside to dry, where these bowls, large serving dishes, and jugs are separated according to their kind. Once dry, the pottery is taken to the kiln. These kilns, especially in the countryside areas, are fueled with wood, leaves, and collected branches. While this process is not as environmentally stable as it once was due to the sheer volume of pottery being created, the resources for another type of firing process are limited.
Following, once the ceramic wares have been fired, the decorative stage begins and designs are dependent upon the region where the pottery is produced. Some of the more traditional Berber tribes have patterns that they have been using for over 200 years. The pottery is then fired again, where the paint used for decorating the pots, jugs, bowls, mugs, and tagines settles.
In the northern Berber villages of Morocco, pottery tends to have a more rustic, earth-tone presentation. Jugs and other ceramics are not decorated in every Moroccan household like the colorful items that are for sale on the streets of Fez or Marrakesh. Wealthy families are more apt to use such pottery as well as families who are putting on a celebration, such as a wedding.
The pottery on display in certain regions tells a story about the influences of that area. The pottery of Safi, for example, comes from Andalusia because of its shiny, almost metallic look. Additionally, the pottery of Fez and Safi are more closely related than ever before. But, pottery in Fez tends to be brown, yellow, and even green on a white background. Meknes, which adopted methods of pottery making from Fez, has the famous metallic-green pottery that is on display in many artistic institutions across Morocco.
For travelers who are looking for items that make a great gift or that will bring back memories of their time in Morocco, some of the easiest types of pottery to haul around in your pack are plates, small jugs, and even tea sets. Looking through the pottery markets of different cities, you’ll surely find a color, type, and style that match your own taste and your home décor. Pottery, as much as any other handcrafted item, is an authentic souvenir that will remind you about the time you spent in Morocco.