Fadma Wadal lives 5,300 miles away from me. She’s six years younger than I am; when I was graduating from high school, she was getting married. Do the math: she was only twelve years old. I went away to college; she waited for puberty and soon had her first child. I personalize this because our lives have been so very different, in more ways than would fit on this screen. (And because I want you to know her full story, we’ve made her chapter from our book Women Artisan’s of Morocco available as free pdf download.)
But at the same time, our lives have some things in common. We’re both mothers and grandmothers (and great-grandmothers, in her case), and weaving has been an important part of existence for both of us. I have earned my livelihood writing and publishing about it; she has earned her livelihood by weaving stacks and stacks of traditional Moroccan textiles, and teaching her daughters to do so. We have both touched a lot of wool, a lot of cloth. And last November, we had the chance to touch each other.
Thrums Books, along with our sister company, ClothRoads, sponsored a tour to meet with many of the women featured in Susan Schaefer Davis’s book, Women Artisans of Morocco. It was a great trip, chatting (with many hand signs) and laughing and practicing skills with women in the cities and towns and remote Berber villages. The time we spent with Fadma was unusually memorable, though. In the three years since Susan and our photographer, Joe Coca, visited and photographed her, Fadma has lost her vision. This didn’t dim her enthusiasm, though, for receiving copies of the book, in which she figures prominently. There were tears, hugs, exclamations unintelligible to me. She understood that her life, her weaving, her place in a strong Berber family, had been memorialized, and that the traditions she has carried forward would not be lost to the world.
Among the beauties of a real, physical book are that you can touch it, feel it, riffle its pages, hold it close. Fadma can share her story in this tangible way with her children and grandchildren; it will become part of her family’s heritage. I’ll think of that often—that book we all labored over, holding a place of pride in the small brown, dry village of Zawiya Tidgheste, south of the High Atlas Mountains.
Download the free pdf: “Fadma Wadal: A Desert Life,” the first chapter of our book Women Artisans of Morocco.
Of course you can always purchase the entire book directly from Thrums Books.