Life in the Dyers Souk Sebbaghine

The dyers district covers two sides of the main path, through Souk Sebbaghine. If you choose to take the “needle and thread” walk, then you can use our Marrakech Travel Guide App to help you along your way. The app is free to download to your phone or tablet and functions without internet connection, so you may never need to lose your sense of direction when navigating the labyrinth of the ancient Medina!

You might wish to take a guide with you when you visit the dyers souk, to have somebody who is multilingual and can give you an explanation in your native language, as to the processes taking place here. You should view this as a service, and expect to make some payment for it. Alternatively, any one of the dyers in the souk will be happy to give a demonstration of their work for you.

As you head along the route past the Mouassine fountain, you’ll meet a fork in the road and take the path to your left. Take another left and you’ll be led to the dyers district via several shops selling colourful textiles and tagine pots! Here you have the option to take a hidden path to your left which opens out into the larger of the dying areas, or a hidden path to your right which opens into a tiny nook filled with wool-dying workshops. If you are looking for a calm, hassle-free experience, then you are probably best taking the right hand path, which runs just between the mosque and the row of stores. You will know you are in the right place because the walls are covered with brightly coloured patches of dye & handprints.

In this little opening, you might find artisans sitting enjoying a mint tea on their lunch break or busy activating the large dying pots. You will notice that their hands are stained a dark grey shade, which is created by a combination of the natural dyes they handle as well as the charcoal used to heat the vats of boiling water.

Within each workshop, a different task is undertaken. The largest of the tiny spaces is occupied by the dying apparatus, which includes several large metal pots or vats for dip dying, boiling and setting the colour, as well as a kind of washing machine drum for spinning and draining wool, all hand driven.

Other workshops focus on making sections of felt from the wool, using the black olive soap and a technique of scrubbing wool strands layer upon layer. This method is known as “wet felting” and is used to create a variety of final products such as bags, shoes and decorative pom-poms.

Waiting on the sidelines, you will find merchants with chariots and buckets; bringing raw wool strands and taking away bundles of coloured wool to sell in the market. Apprentices help to carry heavy loads, and bring pots of tea for the artisans.

Of course, it is possible to dye any organic textile in this souk and if you take the left hand route then you will see examples of natural leather being dyed. As the dyes are made with natural colourants, synthetic textiles wont take the colour with the same vibrancy as the organic textiles.

It seems that the small regions within the dyers souk, focus on one specific colour each day. This is because the vats need to be cleaned in between each colour used, as to not let the dyes become muddy or mixed. This makes for great photos of vibrant, rich coloured cotton threads hanging out to dry. The dyers souk transforms every day, as the colour in the pots is changed.

To experience this for yourselves, contact us today and book your trip to Marrakech.