Mohammed Saili :the last of the comb makers in Fez

26 01 2014

Mohammed Saili

Mohammed Saili is the last of the comb makers on Derb Mechatin.
He began working in agriculture as a child, selling fruits and vegetables harvested from the orchards that surrounded the medina back in the early 60s. Then in 1965 it was Allah who decided, god willing, to make a change in his life and he started working in the medina carving combs. This was a skill he learnt from many people who used to make traditional square shaped combs from cow and sheep horn which they bought from Dar Dbagh Chauara, the oldest tanneries in Fez.

But hamdullillah, Allah gave him a gift of imagination and he started creating combs in the shapes of animals and fish and other inspirations.
His children know how to do this craft but find the work too hard so therefore have other jobs.

Mohammed continues to make combs, spoons, buttons, pendants and other Koranic talismans each day. He is proud that he can earn money from creating products from his imagination, his gift. He makes more than he sells so is creating boxes of his craft than can be sold long after he stops producing.

His work is mostly appreciated by foreigners because they give value to the handicraft. Often they will buy it as an acknowledgement of his skills knowing that they might not even be able to bring it back to their country if there are strict border controls on animal products.

He says that seemingly Moroccans aren’t very interested in such tradition anymore, they are seeking new modern goods. He laments that people are living too fast now, zerba zerba, and not taking the time they used to for tradition. ‘Even women in a Hamam will do a quick shampoo and finish with their hair rather than spending hours treating it with henna…’ he shakes his head with a hint of sadness.
We ask him what sort of things he enjoys making most and he replies with a laugh ‘ whatever makes money’. That is the reality. He has to support himself and his family.
Mohammed is a living treasure with a beautiful smile, a gifted imagination and nearly fifty years of  skill in producing his craft. These are the artisans of the Fez medina.

Article by Aysha and Fatima Zahra

January 2014


Get to know the artisans of Fez.

23 01 2014

Start with the ancient North African city of Fez.  Add the often hidden, traditional artisans who tenuously preserve the old craft techniques.  Spice it up with local and international contemporary visual artists,. The result: – Exposé Artisanal –an exciting project emerging out of Fez’ old medina to inspire creativity, expand portfolios of design and celebrate the treasured yet dwindling number of Fassi artisans.  Exposé Artisanal offers a unique opportunity to foster a new appreciation of the talent and traditions behind the crafts people of Fez and celebrate the influence of their unique heritage on the wider world.

Probably you would like to be part of this project, give yourself the opportunity to be among those artisans thousands of stories ,legends, popular wise sayings. Be the person who can help the process of appreciation. Here’s how

Mr Said Chraibi, Famous Oud Player

15 01 2014


The oud (or ud) is one of the most popular instruments in Middle Eastern music. Its name derives from the Arabic for ‘wood’, and this refers to the strips of wood used to make its rounded body, one of the best Moroccan players of oud is Mr Said Chraibi born in 1951 in Marrakech, Morocco, but was raised in the city of Fez. He began playing the oud at the age of 13 and went on to study Andalusian music at university. He subsequently toured widely throughout North Africa and the Middle East and in 1986, at the age of thirty-five, he won a prestigious prize at a competition in Iraq. However, it was not until his appearances at the Festival of Sacred Music in Fez that his music reached an international audience. Chraibi has been one of the key players in a revival of the traditions of Arab-Andalusian music in Morocco, and he continues to promote this heritage while also incorporating elements of Turkish, Iraqi and Persian music into his playing.