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10 May 2016

Artisan Weaver: Sharif

Every time we visit beautiful, fascinating Morocco we return with new treasures and an even greater appreciation for the artisans who create our lovely products. Besides buying products and discussing issues and plans with our artisans, we take time to observe their work and learn about their lives. 

One of the artisans we spent time with during last month’s visit is Sharif Abdelkabir, one of several weavers of our gorgeous table scarves and the fabric for our pillow covers. Sharif has been weaving for over 40 years, and his fellow artisans tell us that he is, “well known for his high quality of work and knowledge of weaving, as well as his good character and intellect.”

We visited his home where he weaves our fabric and had the honor of Moroccan tea and delicious treats with him and his family. Sharif lives in a traditional medina (old town) home, 3 stories tall and nestled between other ancient homes. His flat roof-top patio features a pigeon coop and a pretty view of the Marrakech medina. A typical medina household, it includes Sharif’s wife, three grown sons, three daughters-in-law, two grandchildren, and two large looms. Moroccans are known to adore children, and this was well-evidenced by this family’s affection for their grandchildren, Fatimazara, 5, and  Amin, 2.

Sharif weaving at home in Marrakech.

I have a new appreciation for Sharif and the other weavers who create our textiles. The uniqueness of each piece takes on a new meaning, as it represents a specific hour, or several, of the weaver’s life.  The subtle differences and imperfections in the weaving, that slightly-off thread or two, are due, perhaps, to the welcome distraction of a grandchild visiting Sharif at his loom.

Sharif Photo Collage

Artisan Weaver Sharif, Marrakech. Photos by Buzz Blumm

Sharif allowed us to watch him work and even attempted to teach me to use the loom. The steps were simple, but I believe it would take me years to acquire Sharif’s deftness! As we watched the threads being added, one by one to a table scarf, the focus and patience required to create each scarf really sunk in. Even with Sharif’s astonishing speed, I estimate it would take an hour or two to produce one 60-inch table scarf.