Idris of Fez

This is the story of Idris.

If you have the good fortune of visiting the Fez medina, you will be confronted with marvellous sights: glistening dates piled in impressive mountains, bakers kneading balls of msemen dough, and perhaps even the head of a cow in all its raw glory.

I was still thinking about the bushel of chickpeas we bought and enjoyed when I heard a faint but insistent chiselling. We approached a muted store lacking in colour, signage, ornamentation. But then we peered in.

Storefront

It was a treasure cove.

The walls were painted a rich ruby red and mosaic chandeliers hung precariously from the ceiling. Intricately carved metalware of every function imaginable filled the space. Hands of Fatima blessed the walls and decorative platters leaned against shelves that held kitchen trays and Moroccan teapots. And in the corner of all this wealth sat a greying man, clad in a simple black djellaba, who expertly held a hammer and nail.

Chiseling - Bird's Eye View

Idris learned this traditional craft from his father, who learned it from his father and so on. He never went to school to be trained as an engraver; he makes a living from the technique, talent, and artistry passed down in his family from generation to generation.

Certification

Over forty years, Idris has established himself as a specialist in working with silver-plated bronze. He has been recognized in both local and national newspapers for his talent and artistry. Idris is known for his intricate designs which are conceived in his mind and etched directly onto metal. None of his creations are drafted.

Chiseling - Full View

At the time of the above photo, Idris had been working on the plate for 27 days. His simple designs can take as little as three days to complete; the complex ones can take longer than 45 days.

Idris’ dedication to his craft was incredibly humbling and his artistry, thought-provoking. The incredible detail and symmetry in his geometric designs echo with his family’s legacy. I was fortunate enough to have met him and to watch art come to life.

If you ever find yourself in the Fez medina, I strongly urge you to follow the sounds and to track down his shop. It certainly is the experience of a lifetime.


Read about my other thoughts on Morocco :

🇲🇦 Morocco – Complexity Beyond the Lens

Until next time! ✌️

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