Leather Tannery

The Leather Souq in Fez is the oldest leather tannery in the world and dates back at least nine centuries.

The tannery is composed of numerous stone vessels filled with a vast range of dyes and various odorous liquids. The tannery processes the hides (skins) of sheep and goats, turning them into high quality leather products such as bags, coats, shoes, slippers and other similar products. This is all achieved manually, without the need for modern machinery. Men work in unbearably hot conditions (in the summer 40 degrees and above). The tannery is a good example of mass production, a process that we often consider as being modern.

The workers stand in the stone vessels arranged like honeycombs, filled with different dyes, dying the arms and legs of the men. The hides are first soaked in diluted acidic pigeon excrement and then transferred to other vessels containing vegetable dyes such as henna, saffron and mint. When the dying process has been completed the hides are dried on the roofs of the Medina.

The leather products sold in the Medina in Fez are manufactured on a nine centuries old production line.
Fez. Morocco 2009
Stephen Mc Donald