Sunday, January 3, 2016

Fes - Day 3

We headed out to the city of Fes, named, according to tradition, for the silver and gold 'fas' or pick axe that the king used to outline the boundaries of the new city-a boundary now exceeded any number of times!

2. Tile work around door
1. Handwork detail
We spent a delightful day, roaming around and about and above the old walled media, one of the larger new in Morocco. Our guide, Khalid, wove us through a labyrinth of tiny streets to share some of the treats found inside. We had a chance to visit a Koranic college, a place where students would go for religious studies. Normally tourists cannot enter these religious colleges, but this one had been closed and the decision was made to share the beautiful old structure with the public. It has beautiful woodcarvings and paintings, carved wood and/or plaster, as well as gorgeous tile work. Note, this stuff is all hand made – (picture 1) the plaster carvings (top), the carved woodwork (lower left), the intricate tile pieces (lower center) as well as the lower tile work around the door (picture 2). The hand-craftsmanship of these people is incredible. I will have money with me to buy some of their work next time!

We returned to the weaving streets-probably better described as alleyways with shops and craftsmen at every turn. We enjoyed a visit to a carpet dealer who had some gorgeous rugs but very expensive. Little did we know that we'd find another salesman with prices that doubled his! Would be something else to plan for on a return trip... The tannery, for some reason, was not my cup of tea. From my way of thinking, it was good that they were resurfacing and repairing their vats – I avoided the smell of cooked hides. I will say, though, that they used natural colors on their hides, colors produced by various plants and flowers, rather than using artificial dyes. We also passed through various metal works areas including tin and copper. The tin / other metals structures might be simple for candles or very ornate for lighting in the home.

We headed from the actual medina out to a pottery school to see how they make the various pottery and tile pieces. Pots are thrown the same old way but the tiny stars, hearts, squares, odd shaped pieces...they are created by HAND. Yes, the man sat there with a rather sharp, large chisel and hand crafted each and every one of them. Those series that might be trees, fitting in next to each other, one up, one down, perfectly matched? Yeah, by hand! Incredible to watch the fine work. 
Practice sample of pieces
fitting together
Fountains have each tile individually placed in a negative mold...if you lose track, it would be hard to figure it out because all you can see is the random backs, no hint of the colors! They even decorate the underside of the tile tables...another thing to budget for if we return! The attention to detail is incredible. Do you get the idea that I’m impressed with their work?

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