It’s so good to be back in Morocco!!

I am back, on the ground, sourcing some truly beautiful pieces.  When I started out with Kulchi I set some really high standards for myself, and my product reflects this.  The rugs that I love most are the rare, the vintage, and the unusual – and in order to find these I have to go WAY off the beaten track. These rugs are hard to find, and it has taken years of building up my local networks (and my Arabic language skills!) in order to unearth these. But I have to admit – it is getting harder! There are no sweat shops here mass producing rugs, they are still all made by hand, in homes, according to local artisan traditions. And that is what makes them so special.

I thought I would weave you a little diary collage of my last few weeks.  Joining me on my travels were Soufiane (my business associate) and Abdelghafour (driver & carpet expert). Ok – where to start??

Kulchi, Morocco, Rugs, Cassandra Karinsky

# First stop was the ‘Tlat’ (which means Tuesday – they take the name of the day to name their market) in Khemissset. This required an 11pm departure out of ‘Kech… the roads enough in Morocco, and definitely loathe them more at night!

# We arrived at 4am at the markets. My enduring question is WHY do they sell carpets at 4am when you cannot even see anything..! Sourcing by torchlight. At these markets it is always the women are the ones how stand in a long line with their carpets at their feet. There is a mix of buyers – shop owners, carpet sorcerers, individual, etc.

# Each town, village, province has their own distinct style of carpet/rug which they are known for and their rugs/carpets are named after.

# We spent a couple of hours at the Tlat market – finding some gorgeous kilims and pile carpets.

# Finished off the day with Msemmen (like a Moroccan crepe) and some mint tea, of course!

Kulchi, rugs, Cassandra Karinsky

#After (a much needed) nap we hit the streets of Kehmisset in search of more rugs – not such an easy task. Abdelghafour was our expert – so he is in the know of where to go and who to see! Invaluable.

# Many of the carpets were in family homes, stored in rooms on rooftop terraces. Rug-hunting requires much time on un-sheltered rooves in the searing heat of the midday sun! Hideous!

Kulchi, rugs, kilim, Cassandra Karinsky

# Another early morning wake up for a visit to the Tifelt carpet souk where they are known for their kilims – usually lots of red or cream. Here again the women run the show – they stand around with their kilims at their feet, ready to barter hard for a good sale. It can often take them months to make one kilim

# More msemmen for breakfast! We packed our bags and set off to Meknes… here we found a family run business, all brothers with some amazing Beni Ouarain and Beni Mguild rugs – getting more expensive now and harder to find.

# From Meknes we went to Azrou – meaning rock or stone in the Berber language. It is a cute little town about 90k south of Fes, in the heart of the middle Atlas region.

# We went to a friend of Soufiane’s, Aziz, guest house… ‘give n’erraht’, arriving very late with a Moroccan feast waiting for us which was incredible. We were quite literally in the middle of nowhere.

beni Ourain, Kulchi, Rugs, Cassandra Karinsky

# Day trip to Khenifra where we have some new Beni Ouarain rugs being made in the traditional Berber double knot. Here we found the blue ones and the grey and pink – they are on their way to Sydney… stunning! They use natural indigo-dyed wool.

# Beni Mguild and Mrirt where we picked up some gorgeous colourful pile rugs.

# Next to Ifrane – wow, this place is like you have been transported to Switzerland. Seriously, it is out of this world! It is like a little Swiss village, so green and fresh. It was about 10 degrees when we were there. It was our little pit-stop for a night – decent hotel with a hot shower and separate rooms with a good bed… ahhh! So happy there! {Note: I implore you to Google image search Ifrane – you won’t believe it!}

Kulchi, Rugs, Loom, Cassandra Karinsky

# Next we headed off to Fes. Here we had quick walk around the souks – not much to see in the way of carpets. But we did have a great lunch at a great little place in the middle of the medina  – where the owner was a little crazy.

# Then to Beni Ouarain and the main city of Tahla, where we found a few houses with carpets. Best discovery was Fathia with her loom – such a gorgeous woman.

Kulchi, Cassandra Karinsky

# So we set on more of a deserted route into the rocky mountains of Beni Ouarain. Seriously nothing out here – no town, no nothing!!!!! Just rocky hills with a house every mile… so, so desolate.

# Here we were found the women making the Beni Ouarain rugs – made by a traditional Berber double knot – very, very difficult. For some women it can take them up to a year to make one carpet, after their responsibilities of running a house and family.

# The quality of new rugs is just not the same as the older traditional pieces – the wool quality and the washing process; this is one of the most important steps in the carpets production/making.

# There was one family, which were so gracious and allowed us in their home to watch Aisha on the loom. Aisha will be producing some custom made pieces for us. We will fabricate a new, larger loom for her.

Kulchi, Cassandra Karinsky

Me with Aisha and Saida

Tanger, Kulchi, Cassandra Karinsky, rugs

# After being quite disappointed with Beni Ourain this trip, we decided it was time to hit the road for a very long drive up north to the coast of Asilah & Tanger… one of my favourite cities! It was time for a little luxury and pampering – well deserved after 2 weeks!

# We arrived very late in the night, and set of early the next morning for Asilah… such a gorgeous little seaside town. The medina here has so much character, such a refreshing break from the bustle of Marrakech – all paint in white and hues of blue.

# A fabulous lunch at Casa Pepe – lots of grilled seafood

# After a day in Asilah we head to Tanger where we had a reservation at Dar Nour – bliss!!! We all had our own suites, such luxury! This was the perfect end to our trip!! Sitting on the terrace at sunset with cocktails… nothing better!

# I love Tanger, I have a very good relationship with this city after working on the apt of a friend, Mohamed, for Elle Decor France. I love the markets and the relaxed vibe of the medina… it reminds me so much of Sydney with it’s hills and ocean views.

# My favourite restaurant here is Le Saveur du Poisson – set menu for 200dh, the best seafood in town!

# Tanger dar nour – loved it here! I think it is one of the best hotel/riads in Tanger

# The markets/souks are stunning, the freshness of the produce and they way they display their goods is just so gorgeous. I love the women selling their homemade cheese in the souk – and their beautiful presentation.

# Another hidden little gem for stunning fresh fish – a good lunch spot restaurant Al Andalus

# And we cannot forget the Tanger Tissurand – one of my favourite places in Tanger. Just so many gorgeous textiles to discover and create!

# And after 5 glorious days of beach and pool – I’m back in Marrakech!

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This entry was published on October 1, 2013 at 3:23 am and is filed under Blog, Products. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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