HANDICRAFTS ARE PART OF THE MOROCCAN NATIONAL HERITAGE. THERE IS NOTHING ARTIFICIAL ABOUT THE PRODUCTS; THEY ARE ALL PRACTICAL USEFUL THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN USED FOR CENTURIES AND ARE STILL EMPLOYED IN THE HOME OR AS ITEMS OF EVERY DAY CLOTHING. THE INDUSTRY HAS EXPANDED WITH THE TOURIST TRADE, BUT IT WOULD BE WRONG TO SAY IT HAS BEEN REVIVED JUST TO SATISFY THE DEMANDS OF VISITORS. IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE MOROCCAN SCENE, DESPITE THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND THE WORLD WIDE STANDARDIZATION OF EVERYTHING. THIS FACT ADDS TO THE SPECIAL APPEAL OF MOROCCAN PRODUCTS, ALL CAREFULLY HAND-CRAFTED AND USEFUL AT THE SAME TIME.
TECHNOLOGY HAS BEEN INTRODUCED, OF COURSE, BUT ONLY TO MAKE THE PRODUCTS BETTER WITHOUT DETRACTING FROM TEHM THEIR SPECIAL "HOME MADE" QUALITIES, AND ESPECIALLY THEIR DECORATIVE APPEAL WHICH IS JEALOUSLY PRESERVED BY THE CRAFTSMEN WHO STILL TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN SOMETHING WELL- MADE AND BEAUTIFUL. YOU CAN SEE THEM ALL BEING MADE IN THE SOUKS OF THE OLD CITIES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, AND WILL REALIZE THAT MANUAL SKILL AND ARTISTIC ENDEAVOR ARE BY NO MEANS ON THE DECLINE. THIS NO DOUBT EXPLAINS WHY THE DEMAND FOR MOROCCAN HANDICRAFTS HAS NEVER BEEN AS BIG AS TODAY FROM THE TECHNICALLY-ADVANCED COUNTRIES.
IN THE SPACE OF ONLY TEN YEARS, THERE HAS BEEN A COMMERCIAL RECONVERSION IN EUROPE AND AMERICA IN FAVOR OF HANDICRAFTS AND YOUNG VISITORS HAVE CERTAINLY CONTRIBUTED GREATLY TO THE NEW FASHION. MOROCCAN PRODUCTS ARE PARTICULARLY DIVERSIFIED, UTILITARIAN AND DECORATIVE ALL AT THE SAME TIME. VERY FREQUENTLY TOO, PRODUCTS OF EXCEPTIONALLY FINE QUALITY CAN BE FOUND WHICH MERIT A PLACE IN MUSEUMS AS BEING BOTH WORKS OF ART AND EXPRESSIONS OF THE CULTURE OF THE ATLANTIC END OF THE MAGHREB.
NOT SURPRISINGLY, MOROCCAN MASTER CRAFTSMEN HAVE A PLACE OF HONOR AMONG CRAFTSMEN THE WORLD OVER, AND THE INDUSTRY HAS EARNED ITSELF AN IMPORTANT PLACE IN THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AS WELL. THIS AS ALWAYS BEEN THE CASE IT SEEMS. IN OLDEN TIMES, SAILING SHIPS USED TO FREQUENT MOROCCAN PORTS TO LOAD ITEMS LIKE MOROCCAN LEATHER, WHICH HAS SINCE BECOME A BY-WORD FOR THE FINEST WITH A REPUTATION GOING BACK TO THE 16TH CENTURY. HANDICRAFTS EMPLOY HALF MILLION PEOPLE BOTH IN THE CITIES AND OUT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, AND TO PRESERVE THE INDUSTRY HIS MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT HAS ALWAYS TAKEN CARE TO SAFEGUARD IT WITH SOCIAL LEGISLATION WHICH PROTECTS BOTH THE CRAFTSMEN AND THE BUYERS. STEPS HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO RENOVATE CERTAIN SECTORS AND TO DEVELOP NEW ONES. FULL INFORMATION ABOUT PRODUCTION, IMPORT, EXPORT AND COMMERCIALIZATION OF HANDICRAFT PRODUCTS CAN BE OBTAINED FROM THE HANDICRAFT DEPARTMENT (DIRECTION DE L'ARTISANAT) IN RABAT, WHICH WILL BE PLEASED TO SUPPLY FIRST-CLASS DOCUMENTATION IN FRENCH, ENGLISH OR GERMAN.
Baskets can be bought with or without covers. Some are made very small like toys or extremely big, thick and "woolly" looking.
There are also natural rocks or semi-precious stones like mineral crystal and bright-colored marbled stones sold on the roadside in many parts of the mountain areas.
One style is known as the "hzam", woven in Fez in a very distinctive design. They are made of silk, about four centimeters wide sometimes and two to four meters long. They are embroidered with modern motifs that recall matisse, and many people buy them for other purposes, such as framing pictures.
The "medama" is a leather belt covered with satin strips and gold embroidered with a highly ornamental buckle made of gold or silver .
Handbags are made of stiff sheep-skin leather with embossed, embroidered or studded designs, often in colored leather or natural shades with zip-fasteners or shoulder straps.
Smaller trays are ideal for serving and even smaller ones make nice ashtrays. Other specialties include sugar-boxes and incenseburners. Moroccan lanterns have colored glass in sapphire, ruby, emerald, amethyst and topaz shades that cast a delightfully intimate light.
Door-knockers are finely carved and some of the older ones that can be bought occasionally make fine antique decorations.
In Marrakech and Azrou, the woodworkers and cabinet makers use cedar or olive tree wood to make a wide variety of objects. Coffers are also made of carved cedarwood with studded wood in the Sahara, covered with leather and studded or intricately painted designs in many colors. These coffers or chests used to be a kind of Moroccan hope-chest for keeping women's caftans in. Smaller caskets, coffee tables in marquetry, chessboards are made out of the wood inlaid with ebony, lemon wood or cedar, while chests or babies' cribs made of brightly-painted wood are made mainly in Fez.