The pottery industry is the first trade in Moroccan history. Combining the Berber heritage on the one hand with the Moroccan culture on the other, there are several techniques used to decorate clay mud in unique decorative forms and shapes.
In Morocco, there are two main types of pottery: urban porcelain and traditional village pottery, most of which are made in Fes, Safi and Sale.
How Is Moroccan Pottery Made?
Moroccan porcelain is a former industry, where the design diagram of the pottery is always preliminary to its actual making process. It uses a basic substance which is clay mud. The main steps that are applied during Moroccan pottery industry are:
Mud mixing is the first step in making the pottery, and starts with wetting the clay by adding water to it, while it is in a suitable reservoir for blending. This process continues until the mud, or Ball Clay, becomes formable.
The pottery maker moves then to compressing the mud with filters, which helps to dispose the excess water before placing it on a traditional Pottery Wheel called “Ettaba”. He then starts to rotate the wheel so that he can properly form it.
Cavitation is the step where the pottery maker uses his hands to shape the depth of the mud pots, or he may use a special device for the pottery cavity, which helps him to make hollow pots, like vases.
The formation of the product cavity continues until the pottery maker has reached the required size. Sometimes, ready-made molds may be used to make the product cavity in an easy, fast, and accurate manner at the same time, before beginning to prepare them to apply the following steps.
Glazing is the penultimate step in making pottery, and it depends on making sure it is permanently dry. In preparation for the use of colors, one or a mixture of colors may be used in it, which increases the distinctiveness and beauty of the piece.
Pottery makers often use the method of spraying the paint; it adds some beauty to the pottery. This method is used in case that no engravings or decorations are drawn on the outside surface of the piece. Otherwise, pottery makers start drawing beautiful and unique patterns on the product. Such drawings are usually culturally symbolic.
Burning is the last step in making of the pottery. The pottery maker piles up a large number of pottery products into a traditional furnace. This furnace is fired using coal or wood. He ensures to expose the pottery products to the largest possible temperature, so that it contributes to drying it and drying all the layers of the paint. After making sure that the pottery is completely dry, the products are then ready for sale and use.
Types of Moroccan Porcelain
Moroccan porcelain is divided into two types: village ceramics and urban porcelain. Village ceramics are those clay utensils used in the simple daily life of villages, such as stove and pot. They are characterized by maintaining mostly their original brown color of clay, or some simple motifs and patterns.
The second type is urban porcelain, which goes along with the soft urban life, and it is predominantly artistic, whether in kitchen utensils (Like Tajine and Tangia), or with regard to decorating the house (such as vases, incense burners and decorative plates). Urbain porcelain is mostly associated with cities like Fes, Safi, Sale, Marrakech and Tetouan.