Moroccan Leather 101: A Beginner's Guide

Moroccan leather bag


When it comes to the realm of leather work, it will be hard to find any handicraft more intriguing than Moroccan Leather Work.

Moroccan leather work has a long history in Morocco and it is one of the most important aspects of the country’s traditional crafts. The leather arts have been preserved throughout the centuries, and have become a symbol of national identity.

The natural beauty of Morocco shines through in its crafts and leather work is one of the most important ones. The Moroccan leather worker, with his experience and skills, can make a handcrafted product of very high quality with intriguing designs such as Moroccan leather poufs, slippers, bags, books and so many more...

Moroccan leather workers still use different tools and techniques handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth or by imitation.

If you’re a fan of leather craft from Morocco then you will be interested in knowing what is it, how it’s made, and so much more… Keep reading until the end because this article is stuffed with valuable information about the leather in Morocco.


Moroccan leather bags

Moroccan leather work is a craft with ancient history. The masterly technique of workers who spent their lives in tanneries, the Moroccan leather is the fruit of a delicate knowledge passed down from father to son. But it is also recognized for the originality and diversity of its production. This implies know-how for tanning, cutting, and sewing, beautifully managing forms and colors, through which numerous craftsmen offer their interpretation of the Moroccan style.

Leather working is one of the oldest Moroccan traditions. The working techniques vary according to the regions:

  • In Marrakech, it is embroidered with colored threads or thin strips of skin (filali)
  • In Fez, artisans are renowned for the gilding applied to morocco dyed green or red
  • In Rabat, artisans are more specialized in embossed leather


Making of Moroccan leather in Fez tanneries

At all times, humans have used animal skins for shelter, protection, clothing... which has given rise to different trades around the work of skins and leather.

The importance of the tannery in the traditional crafts of Morocco comes from the fact that Morocco has always been a great breeding country with a rich nature that provides the necessary tanning products and dyes. From skin to a final product, leather working is a very long process of different steps.

Before reaching the tannery, the skin must be preserved and protected. In order to prepare the hide for the tanning process, it must be checked for quality. The skin is cleaned of dirt and impurities, then salted, dry or wet, or placed in acids and salts to keep it in good condition during transport and storage to the tannery.

The skins arrive in tanneries set up near a water source to start the work. The various operations are supervised by the master craftsmen (malhems): salting, desalting, waxing, lime, bran, pigeon droppings, and dyeing baths precede the actual tanning, which is the final treatment to transform the skin into leather thanks to with tannins of vegetable origin. The smoothing performed last gives its final appearance to the leather.

After the smoothing step, it becomes possible to design a variety of objects: slippers, belts, clothes, handbags, suitcases, poufs ... Each city is specialized in a particular type of product and there are neighborhoods in Fez, Rabat, Meknes and even in Marrakech entirely occupied by tanneries.


Moroccan Leather Pouf:

Moroccan leather pouf

The leather pouf is one of the most known leather crafts from Morocco. It’s an eternal favorite among Moroccan craft lovers. These leather poufs have really grown a lot in their popularity, even though they have been around for so long.

Leather pouf ottomans come in a variety of sizes, styles. But they stay an exclusive Moroccan home decor piece.

If you want to know more about poufs, you can read our article exclusively about Moroccan leather poufs.

Leather Handbags & Suitcases:

Moroccan leather handbag in a Souk

Moroccan leather bags and suitcases have long been prized for their beautiful yet durable look. Their structure and good quality allow the bags to remain in good condition even after prolonged use, making them a great choice to get.

Moroccan Slippers:

Moroccan slippers sold in a Souk

Moroccan babouche is a traditional flat, They start with a piece of leather cut to shape and then stitched onto a sole. Next, a long strip of leather is wrapped around the foot and stitched into place, forming the divide between the top and bottom parts. The last detail is a fringed or knotted tassel hanging from the toe or a traditional handmade ornate design.

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