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The tanneries

In Morocco the process of turning animal hide into soft leather is a craft that goes back thousands of years and that has changed very little since medieval times. The tanneries in the medina are located away from the residential quarters due to the foul odors produced by the pigeon feces and cow urine used to soften the hides. We went up to the terrace of a leather shop to view the workers traversing between the vats of softening hide (the grey vats) and the ones containing vegetable dye. The smell is so strong that a sprig of mint (Moroccan air freshener) is given to all visitors to hold to the nose to help combat the smells.

Watching the tanning process was an amazing experience but also a distressing sight. I can’t even imagine the health risks these craftsmen are exposed to by hopping into the vats, knee-deep in the stinky solution and dye. It is brutal work done under horrid conditions.

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Comments (8)

WOW - fascinating pics but I agree - a health and safety nightmare.

Wow, I didn't get the sense of scale until I saw that man in the third photo. That's incredible. Distressing but these photos are so wonderful to look at! That second one would make a very cool painting.

Great post!

Barb Cabot:

This looks so interesting. I think they went to a place like this in one episode of "Amazing Race". It's a reality show I love because they're taking all these people to such great places.

Great photos, Maria. The process is hazardous.
One a side note, I love the mint scent.

Wow! I love the colors. I've seen pictures of this but didn't realize it was in Morocco.

Very informative. Makes you appreciate your leather even more.

sandrac:

That would very brutal, dangerous work. I can imagine the smell must be horrific.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Maria, this is so interesting! And I love the photos that you took. The work enviornment does sound terrible though.

Thanks so much for sharing this part of your trip and your photos. Have a nice evening Maria!

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