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The Vibrant World of Moroccan Pottery

moroccan Pottery - ALO Magazine
Whether strolling though a souk in Fez or Marrakech, you’re sure to spot a dazzling array of vibrant pottery with intricate designs––it’s one of Morocco’s top artisan exports. Numerous cities––Safi, Fez, Wadi Lan, Rabat, and Meknes––excel as centers of the ceramic art, given that surrounding areas are rich in clay. What first strikes the eye is the complex geometric designs spiraling out in circular patterns on various bowls, dishes, vases, and cooking pots. Symmetry and persistent repetition are trademarks of this Moroccan art. Stars and intricate mosaics are also hallmarks; they symbolize harmony and reflect Morocco’s rich cultural tapestry. Colors often mirror Morocco’s natural landscapes––azure skies, emerald oases, along with shades of yellow and red. Arabic calligraphy is also seen––often done in Quranic verses, poems, and blessings, adding a spiritual dimension to the art.

Ancient Origins

Early Moroccan potters were influenced by Phoenician, Roman, and Arab ceramic traditions, which laid the foundation for the country’s unique pottery styles. The seventh century introduced an Islamic influence, especially in terms of geometric patterns, and certainly calligraphy began to be used extensively.

The Berbers, Morocco’s indigenous population (they also call themselves Amazigh or Imazighen), also played a vital role in shaping the country’s pottery heritage. The Berber tradition leans heavily on pottery’s functional and ritualistic use, and as with other regions, employs intricate designs done in vibrant colors.

During the Middle Ages, Morocco absorbed the cultural influences of Andalusia (southern Spain), as many Muslims and artisans fled there during the Reconquista. This led to the fusion of Andalusian and Moroccan styles, creating distinctive ceramic works.

Fez's distinctive blue potter- ALO Magazine

Fez’ Distinctive Blue Pottery

As the oldest city in Morocco, Fez is known globally for its blue pottery, called fassi by locals. It’s difficult, in fact, for any visitor to not return with at least one piece of Fez artistry––so striking are the multi-hued arabesques and graphic lines that cover pieces. By the 16th century, a single section of Fez, Fakhkharin, became the center of pottery production. The intense blue color was originally sourced from cobalt deposits found around the city.
Safi pottery- ALO Magazine

Safi Pottery

The coastal city of Safi is also known for its vibrant pottery tradition. Here, ceramics are characterized by their vivid colors and floral designs. The city’s ceramics industry has flourished thanks to its proximity to clay deposits as well as the Atlantic Ocean, which has long facilitated trade.
ceramic tagines- ALO Magazine

Marrakesh Pottery

Marrakesh excels, as all regions do, in turning out vibrant colors, but here it’s known for terracotta and ceramic tagines (a traditional cone-shaped Moroccan pot). The designs often incorporate such patterns as palm leaves and henna-inspired motifs.
zellige tiles- ALO Magazine

Zellige Tiles

It’s worth noting Zellige tile work––it’s one of Morocco’s most iconic ceramic styles. These small, hand-cut tiles are arranged in intricate mosaic patterns. You’ll find them covering walls, fountains and tabletops––really anywhere a spot of striking decor is needed. The famous Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is a prime example of Zellige craftsmanship. It’s worth noting Zellige tile work––it’s one of Morocco’s most iconic ceramic styles. These small, hand-cut tiles are arranged in intricate mosaic patterns. You’ll find them covering walls, fountains and tabletops––really anywhere a spot of striking decor is needed. The famous Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is a prime example of Zellige craftsmanship.
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