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A Journey Through Time: The Rich History of Moroccan Woodworking

by nizar ennabil on July 29, 2023

Greetings, woodworking aficionados and history buffs! Today, we travel back in time to explore the rich tapestry of Moroccan woodworking history. As we delve deeper into the past, we will uncover the journey of this beautiful craft, from its roots to its finest expressions in various forms, like Zouaq, wood sculpting, turning, and marquetry.

Deep Roots of Woodworking Tradition

Woodworking in Morocco is steeped in history, and for Moroccans, it has always symbolized the essence of home—its coolness and intimacy. The craft owes much to the pine and cedar forests, the orchards, and the olive groves that have fostered this long-standing tradition. It's as if each wooden artifact carries the scent and spirit of these natural landscapes.

A Beautiful Blend of Influences

The journey of Moroccan woodworking is a tale of many influences, each bringing their unique touch. First, it was the Babylonian influence that introduced the intricate art of marquetry, then the Andalusian input that refined woodworking techniques. The result? Pieces that were no longer mere objects but transformed into genuine works of art.

Enter the Merinids

The turning point arrived with the Merinids in the 13th century. These folks from the eastern steppes elevated the art of wood sculpting to unprecedented heights. Be it wall panels, cornices, consoles, lintels, or cedar wood ceilings, they worked their magic everywhere, breathing life into wood.

The Art Continues

Despite the passage of time, this artistic tradition continues to thrive. Craftsmen in Tétouan, Salé, Essaouira, and Meknès still create alcove arches and mosque chandeliers, preserving the enduring legacy of stalactite sculpting. It's common to see large panels adorning interior doors and ceilings, decorated with floral motifs highlighted in black or white.

The Lasting Legacy

Cedar wood, with its abundant qualities, continues to play a significant role in architectural crafts. In the late 19th century, massive cedar gates were made for the palaces of Fez, weighing up to a whopping 300 kilos. In the countryside, robust granary doors, 70 to 100 cm high, several centimeters thick, and sometimes sculpted, were made. These doors, symbols of the enduring strength and beauty of Moroccan woodworking, are still sought after by enthusiasts.

As we conclude our journey through time, it's clear that Moroccan woodworking is a testament to a rich history and the resilience of a craft preserved and loved for centuries. It is a legacy that continues to enrich our homes and lives. So, as we admire our Tuyya pieces, let's remember the deep history they carry and the hands that crafted them. Until next time, keep exploring, keep appreciating!