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The Chouara tannery, Fes



Tanning is one of the oldest traditions in Morocco and Fes. The city is known as a spiritual centre but is also well known for the quality of its art and crafts. Tanning has always been a big industry. In the 14th century, nearly a hundred tanneries were set up in the Medina of Fes. Nowadays, less than ten of them still process goat, sheep and calf skins in the same way as tanners did seven hundred years ago.
Among them, the Chouara tannery is one of the biggest. Generations of tanners have been trained there, passing their knowledge and culture from father to son, sometimes starting at the age of 11. Their work consists of making the skin as supple as possible using only natural products to tan and dye the skin, sometimes in very difficult conditions. Even if all tanners are trained to be able to carry out any of the steps of the skin tanning process, each of them have their own job, from washing the skin, to dying it or just laying it out to dry.