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Moroccan handicrafts : Renaissance of a secular art

 A heritage in motion

 Theoretically, the birth of modern design dates back to the Victorian era (1840-1920) but it is mainly in the late 1900s that the true design movement will be born, in the period of pre-modernism, including the “New Art “ style. (1890-1910). The period of Modern Style will appear in 1894 and will continue until today. This style is characterized by simple decoration, vertical lines and the use of materials such as clay,wool, metal, concrete, glass and stucco.

 Berbers, precursors of the craft industry

 The craft industry was born in Morocco with the arrival of the first Berber tribes and their establishment in the north of Morocco towards the 5th century BC They create then the kingdom of Mauretania and install their trade which consisted, among others, in the exchange of handicrafts. "Berber power reaches its peak with the arrival of the great dynasties. From 1062 to 1147, the Almoravid dynasty favored Andalusian art; the Almohads (1147-1269) focus on cultural and architectural development. Finally, the Merinids (1269-1465) showcase the art which, during this period, reached a high degree of refinement in Morocco.

The Saadian and Alawite dynasties succeeded each other, leaving, for each of them, its borrowing on the craft industry which has since undergone many changes related to modern foreign influences and to the evolution of the ways of life of the Moroccans. did not fail to feel on the creations. In this way, craftsmanship is also shaped by trends and oscillates between tradition, authenticity and modernity. The modern product itself, however, finally came into force in the Moroccan home because of its cost and practicality, marginalizing timidly and strongly the Moroccan handicrafts. But now the spleen of the traditional makes return the craft on the media scene and in the Moroccan home. 

  An important economic source

Moroccan crafts represent an important economic resource. Numerous economic indicators confirm the importance of the sector for the Moroccan economy but also for a large part of the population. In 2004, this sector accounted for 19% of Morocco's GDP. It brought in nearly 800 million dirhams thanks to the export.

Today, the craft is the second employer after agriculture. It employs nearly 20% of the working population and allows one third of the population to live.

While tourism continues to play a vital role in the survival of this sector, there is a renewed interest among Moroccans who are resuming their taste for handicrafts.

 Dificulties ...

 But this does not mean that the Moroccan handicraft situation is very comfortable. The sector is in fact experiencing its own crisis. It supports the "weak institutional representativeness" and a lack of organization. There is no clear case law governing the profession, a situation that has hitherto been reflected in the social conditions of artisans.

Even the system of cooperatives that provide training for craftsmen can not generalize these trainings and the promotion system remains too limited.

The sector is also suffering from competition. The other sectors in crisis push their workers to become artisans, especially pottery and wood, without any qualifications or experience that the job is lost ...

In export, many market shares are lost because our products do not follow international market trends and suffer terribly from foreign competition. Several countries have specialized in products that are notorious for Moroccan craftsmanship and owe their success to the added value they have imagined (finishing , design and color). Their practical, light and cheap side has spread Moroccan articles in many foreign real estate and design fairs. Not to mention counterfeiting and cheap labor in some countries, such as China, India and Nepal. The Moroccan rugs has been dethroned by those counterfeited by Turkey and India, wooden items imitated by Indonesia and wrought iron by Poland. Even the Moroccan zellige has not escaped the counterfeiting of Asians.

A sector that is modernizing

 There is a certain craze for the modernization of the Moroccan product: Moroccan and foreign interior design is inspired more and more by Moroccan craftsmanship as a material to exploit or accessories to add to the ultra-modern decor. The traditional costume has also been shortened or lengthened, patched, amplified or reduced, set with trinkets that respond to the fantasies of each other's art, not necessarily Moroccan. Companies are born on the web offering a wide range of products to buy online, catalogs, which are virtually virtual shops where the traditional, when not seen, finds its place among modern items. Sites even offer tailor-made tailoring of items imagined by the customer, a dream that these specialized sites make possible in some way. The customer has a particular request; he describes the object and the company is responsible for drawing up an estimate, manufacturing and shipping the product. French e-shops also offer a remote purchasing system for cosmetics based on local products such as precious Argan oil and herbal products such as the highly cultivated rose in Morocco. They are imported from Morocco and are sold remotely, by parcel, around the world.

And without going farther, a wide range of local products is becoming more and more the rays of Moroccan supermarkets, testifying to the notable efforts of the government, in the promotion of  Moroccan cooperatives.

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