19th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Preparing the Hides

The hand process of curing animal hides is a long and arduous one. In Morocco, it is still done the "old fashioned" way dipping the hides into various vats and all done by hand. More about this tannery: Chouara Tannery Built in the 11th century, it is the largest tannery in Fes Since the inception of the city, the tanning industry has been continually operating in the same fashion as it did in the early centuries. The tanneries are packed with the round stone vessels filled with dye or white liquids for softening the hides. The most notable feature is the numerous stone vessels filled with different colored dyes and white liquids. Hides of cows, sheep, goats, and camels are processed by first soaking in a series of the white liquids in order to clean and soften the tough skins. This process takes two to three days and prepares the hides to readily absorb the dyes. They are then soaked in the dyeing solutions, which use natural colorants such as poppy for red, indigo for blue, and henna for orange. After the dyeing, they are dried under the sun. The resulting leather is then sold to other craftsmen, who use it to produce Morocco's famed leather goods, such as bags, coats, shoes, and slippers, prized for their high quality. The entire leather production process comprises manual labor only and involves no modern machinery, and has retained methods unchanged since medieval times.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 04.2019
Date Uploaded: 11.2021
Photo Location: Fes, Morocco
Camera: Canon EOS R
Copyright: © Marylou Badeaux