I returned a couple of weeks ago from the third ClothRoads & Thrums Books Textile Arts of Morocco Tour with author Susan Schaefer Davis. To wander just a few of the 15,000 alleyways of medieval Fes, to breathe in the mounds of Marrakesh spice, or drive along the edges of the High Atlas Mountains is a gift all on its own.
But for me, as with any place I travel, what I bring home (other than textiles!) are the people I meet along the way. On this journey, it was the women artisans and their families that are featured in our book Women Artisans of Morocco. What is extraordinary about a tour like this is being able to visit weavers and embroiderers and button makers in their homes. We were able to share a meal together or, at the least, a glass of steaming hot sweet mint tea. Because of author Susan Schaefer Davis’s lifelong work and her strong relationships with women artisans in Morocco, we too had the opportunity to learn more deeply about their lives, their families, and enjoyed watching them work, whether that was carding wool or patiently teaching one of us how to make a button.
In the days since my return, I have brought to mind Ijja every time I walk across the gorgeous rug she wove that now adds some style and beauty to my simple home. In my kitchen, sprinkling cumin over chicken and nibbling on olives, I’m reminded of Aziza’s kitchen and her happy friends when they prepared us a delicious lunch in the oasis village of Zawiya Tidgheste. Flipping through my journal pages, I find the word, “Azoul” that our Berber translator wrote for me, so I’d know how to greet people in their language. Is it telling that I didn’t ask her to write good-bye?
So many moments bring back the lives of the Moroccan women we met, their grace and kindness, their remarkable skills, their persistence, and joy. Morocco is a magnificent country with ancient cultures, dramatic landscapes, and rich artisan traditions. Its people, however, are what make it a land to which you will return again and again.
Susan Schaefer Davis will give a lecture at the George Washington Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, November 16 at 10:30 a.m. If you’re in the area be sure to stop by for a meaningful talk. She’ll have rugs on hand for show and tell and will have plenty of books to sell.
Or you can order it right here from Thrums Books.