Symbolism of the Tanning process in the Marrakech Tanneries

Marrakech Tanneries

The Marrakech Tanneries are perhaps one of the must-see attractions in red city. The traditional tanning process, as witnessed in the Marrakech tanneries, is laced with symbolism. It is often said that the position of the tanneries itself, the east of the Marrakech Medina, symbolizes the rebirth of animal skin into leather through the sun rising to the east. Indeed, the complete process of tanning skins itself is also deeply symbolic: according to tanners, this first step of the tanning process, where the skins are fermented in a solution for a 3-6 days, is where the skin eats, drinks and sleeps before being ‘reborn’ from the water. When the skin is treated with a pigeon poo solution, it is said to receive nafs, a spirit that begins the process of rebirth and renewal. Finally, it is in the final stage of the tanning process, where the hide is stretched and smoothed over coarse ropes, that the skin is reborn into leather.

Here at Hip Marrakech, we strongly advice you visit the Marrakech Tanneries during your visit to the red city so you can witness the unique, traditional process with your own eyes. If you are interested in the traditional leather craft industry, you can follow our ‘Leather and Tanning’ Medina walk, accessible for free via the Hip Marrakech App.

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