After wandering around the various alleyways, I finally found the Dyers souk (with a bit of help from a local boy, yes he expected a tip, but he was quite helpful, and was satisfied with the few dh I gave him)
I was shown into a yard, where some hanks of wool were drying in the sun on the floor, and there were tubs of dyes. I had to be careful to avoid treading on some tiny kittens that were walking around!
A man came over and showed me the tubs, before leading me into a room, where one of the dyers showed me jars of brightly coloured natural dyes. He kept asking me what colour I thought the dye was, I thought he was trying to learn the english words for the colours, but when he mixed some of them with water, they changed colour completely!
He had some attractive hand dyed silk scarves for sale, but I explained that I wasn't buying. He was ok about this, and then proceeded to wrap a length of material around my head, before handing me a mirror and pronouncing me a Toureg!
This was a nice travel memory - just sharing some time with one of the local artisans, having a chat and a laugh, and not feeling pressurised to buy anything.
Here you will find the activities involved in dyeing wool and silk - so you will find here skeins of wool and silk freshly dyed and still wet hanging out to dry in the sun and warm air.
And then of course the end products for sale too - with prices still in need of a good haggle to get down to the value! ie pretty silk scarves in a range of lovely shades but with a starting over priced price of 450 dirham! which i got down to 150 dirham but when checking prices later that we had paid the opinions of our moroccan connections were that they shouldve been 80-100 dirhams.
We were brought here by our 'guide' which gratefully included a climb up onto the roof of a local multistoried building which gave us great views down into the dyers souk below us and the surrounding area.
After a pleasant time spent learning about the dyes and 'dressing up' ;-) (see previous tip!)I tried to explain that I wanted to see the skeins of wool hanging to dry (as I'd seen on post cards/guide books)
The boy who'd shown me to this yard appeared and took me across the alley, and through a shop, which led onto a yard, where I found what I was looking for!
I was told that this was silk. The bright colours were stunning against the blue sky, a complete contrast to the drab surroundings of the yard. After taking my photos, the boy led me into a house, where I hesitantly followed him up the rickety staircase. Questioning my wiseness - where was I being taken? We arrived on the rooftop, where the boy pointed to more hanks of silk drying below. I think he was very used to 'crazy tourists' who wanted to take photos of silk hanging up to dry!!
The alleys of the dyers souk are filled with brightly coloured overhanging wool and fabric, perhaps still wet from recently being dyed. It is all very colourful with red, orange, purple, blue and yellow threads of wool. It is by far the most photogenic area of the souks and we made a lot of pictures in the alleys, from one of the roof terraces and around a dyers workshop.
It was rather difficult to find this area, coming from the Ben Youssef Medersa. After entering the souk a ‘helpful guide’ brought us to a workshop and we saw examples of the natural materials - such as saffron, indigo, pomegranate and mint - where the dyes are made from. Dye was boiling in a huge bath: interesting to see, but it must be hard to work.
The shopkeeper dressed us with scarves like ‘touaregs’ and it was not only for showing the colours or shooting a picture; no ‘of course’ it was a nice trick trying to sell these silk and cotton scarves. After some haggling - from 450 down to 250 Dirhams - we decided to buy ‘our scarves.
In another alley we were invited to climb onto the roof of one of the buildings. We had some great views of the drying fabrics and the roofs of the souks. Once down again we were forced by a rather aggressive craftsman to pay for the view and he demanded 50 Dirhams (of curse much too much), but I didn’t want to bargain again and paid the money.
The dyers souk is without any doubt a photogenic area and very interesting to visit, even if we ‘had’ to pay a lot of money.
You pay a very small fee to the guard of the Tanneries and in return you get some mint leaves.
You'll need them and constantly hold them IN your nose because otherwise you can't stand the stinking skins.
I had some mud on my short and it stank for two weeks... Beware !!!
From my experience the further you walk the more incredible things you see, look at this picture, we found this as we turned the corner, an increible sight all of a sudden!
The tanneries is the place where they make leather of out animals (goat, sheep, cow..) skin.
I don't envy the people working there because it stinks like hell but you should have seen it