Whilst walking around Marrakech, it is impossible not to notice how many of the doors, window shutters and wooden tables are carefully adorned with exquisite carvings or intricately painted tessellated patterns. These humble items extend far beyond their functional use: the beautiful designs, that are so unique to the region, represent a certain respect for traditional design and artisanal techniques that is prevalent throughout society.
Where it is easy to find small stalls in the Souks inhabited by skilled workers making beautiful wooden item like small boxes or chess sets, items that are perfect for souvenirs, it is perhaps more difficult to find the workshops that make the larger items like the Riad doors, the carved wooden panelling and so on. Located a short walk form the Jemaa el-Fna square, just metres away from Dar Habiba we found Abdil’s workshop. Abdil, a quiet man of little words, invited us into his space to show us his work: we looked through a series of beautifully painted panels that he uses as samples to demonstrate his work to clients before he showed us a carved doorframe he was currently working on for a Riad renovation. He explained that he mainly works for local businesses, but he has in the past also worked for visitors to Marrakech who wanted to take home a unique item to furnish their house. Perhaps you will need more than the basic hand luggage allowance to take home such an item, but a custom-made piece of artisanal history would maybe be the greatest souvenir of all.
Abdil’s shop is located just off the ‘Woodworking’ Medina Walk on the free MarrakechRiad app; but it is well worth the detour, especially if you are interested in bringing home a special memory of Morocco. 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.
The Khalid Art Gallery is becoming somewhat of an institution in Marrakech. Located on Dar el Basha in a traditional Riad, the Art Gallery (perhaps more accurately defined as a shop) is bursting with some of the most sought after Moroccan antiques and exquisite artisanal products that Marrakech has to offer. It is easy to see why it has become so popular with the international jet set.
The Khalid Art Gallery Riad has now been joined by a smaller, more compact gallery dedicated to a vast collection of exquisitely restored and lovingly made jewellery and fine metalwork. Rasheed, pictured above, invited us into the smaller Khalid Art Gallery to show us around. He told us that this second shop, located just 100m down the road from the main Khalid Art Gallery Riad, has only been open for a year before picking out his favourite pieces of Jewelry and explaining the cultural significance and origin of the design and how each piece is made.
However, if you are looking for larger souvenir to decorate your home – perhaps a traditionally painted clay vase or a wrought iron design – then it is definitely the larger Khalid Art Gallery you are after. In fact, the Khalid Art Gallery is located on our ‘Iron and Clay’ Medina walk available on our free MarrakechRiad app. In this way, the Khalid Art Gallery is perhaps the perfect place to look round during the Iron and Clay’ walk as it demonstrates the artistic heights that these two traditional art forms can reach.
The Hamsa symbol, also known as the hand of fatima, can be found all across the Arabic and North African world and you will repeatedly see the amulet throughout your stay in Morrocco. Most Moroccans believe that the Hamsa, or Khomisa as it is known locally, acts as a form of protection from evil, whilst others see it as a sign of good luck. The Khomisa finds it’s origins in the form of a salutation; that is when someone raises their hand to say hello to a friend. It is often said that when one raises their hand in a welcoming gesture it also functions as a kind of protection from his eyes and that is why there is an eye in the middle of every Khmisa.
Elegant jewelry and other exquisite items bearing the Khomisa can be found from stalls around the Jemaa al-Fna and the Artiste Ensamble so you can bring home a piece of Moroccan good luck and protection back home. Alternatively, why not head to Henna Cafe and ask for a Henna Khomisa so that you can wear this beautiful symbol throughout your stay?