Cathy Manning's Marrakech Photo Experience started on assignment in one of the local tanneries...
Words and Images by Cathy Manning
The tanneries in Marrakesh have operated continuously since the 11thcentury. Organized by medieval principle, the strictly male craftsmen were born into the trade.
The tanneries resemble an oversized watercolor painter’s palette. 4ft X 4ft concrete vats hold dyes of many colors.
The pigments are made with pigeon dung, water, lime & various other toxic chemicals. Each vat serves a purpose.
Some soften the animal skins. Others remove the hair from the skin. While some bleach and dye the skins brilliant colors.
A 20-day back breaking, gut wrenching, smelly putrid process, brings the animal skins to life.
Now leather of many colors, sold at auction to craftsmen. Who transform the dyed skins into handbags, belts, shoes, jackets and various other products.
'Thank you very much for the opportunity to shoot these men and all the people of Marrakesh. I found them to be a friendly, gracious people. Devout in their faith, dedicated to their families and having a strong desire for tourists to like their country and feel welcome and comfortable.