On a recent study trip to Fez, Morocco, we had the pleasure of visiting few workshops and studios of local artisans. In a city where the craftsmanship is alive, we had a "hands-on" experience to do zillig (the traditional geometrical tile-making) and brass embossing, along with eye-opening visits to famous locations in the old city.
Everyone admires Morocco because of its old-city charm, but what we admire and respect the most is honoring craftsmanship that has been transferred through generations and generations. This constant respect to traditional skills does not mean backward thinking, but it could open windows of opportunities to remain truly loyal to cultural identity, yet utilizing these skills in new products.
Hamza, a young artisan of brass embossing, born and bred in Fez, spoke to us about the artisan scene in the city: "My fear does not concern the artisans, or their skills, but the people who are making and providing the tools for the industry who became very few because most of them passed away. Without tools, artisans cannot function."
So what about places where there are few artisans too!? We have deep concerns for the craftsmanship in the Arab Gulf, can it still be saved?