Traditional Hand-Sewn Embroidery in the Heart of Marrakech

In Muslim societies, as in many places around the world, hand-sewn embroidery is traditionally regarded as a luxury item reserved for the high social class. These days, regardless of your social class or income, no matter how hard you look it is often difficult to find such quality craftsmanship anywhere. In the age of mass-production and machines, it is difficult to find artists and artisans who dedicate their life to an art form like embroidery, using traditional techniques. However ‘Broderie & Couture de Marrakech’, nestled in Marrakech’s Ensemble Artisanal, is one such place.

The Ensemble Artisanal is a government-run venture comprising of a multitude of small shops ran by classically trained craftsmen and artisans. These stalls offer a similar selection of handcrafted goods that you find in the Souks, yet the quality of the goods is often of a higher standard and there is no haggling. ‘Broderie & Couture de Marrakech’ is a small, seemingly unremarkable shop tucked away in the far corner of the complex; yet, within the confines of this small room it is possible to find some of the finest craftwork we have seen in Marrakech.

The owner of the shop, Echouqui Hajiba, explained that, since it was established 1980s, her shop has specialized in hand-made material goods such as hand sewn djellabas, kaftans and shawls and uniquely designed embroidered tablecloths and napkins that comprised the majority of her sock were unique to her shop. Although the items of clothing were beautiful, very well made and reasonably priced (around 100-200 dirham), it was these hand-embroidered tablecloths and napkins that were most impressive – we have never seen anything like it!

Echouqui explained that the tablecloth and napkin were designed in a traditional Berber style, and a set could be made in any design or any style to order. The tablecloth and napkin set was especially popular with local Marrakechi’s as luxury wedding gifts. She showed us two of her favourite designs, a napkin decorated with blue thread and one decorated with blue thread: the red thread design represents the city of Marrakech, which is often known as ‘the red city’ thanks to it’s red clay ramparts, and the blue thread design represents the city of Fez, with the inclusion of the lighter Majorelle blue for a Marrakchi twist.

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Like the other shops at the Ensemble Artisanal, the broidery shop was run as a co-operative; this means that the 70 women who work producing the embroidered garments all equality benefit from the items that are sold.

The Ensemble Artisanal and the ‘Broderie & Couture de Marrakech’ Cooperative is located at the start of the ‘Needle and Thread’ Medina Walk available for free MarrakechRiad app. The app tours are a great way to explore the fantastic range of traditional craft skills that are thriving in the Medina of Marrakech. If you would like to find out more about the free MarrakechRiad app, the ‘Woodworking’ walk or any of our other Medina walks then our Riad staff would be happy to help.

 

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