Walking through the chaotic souks of Marrakesh you will find stall upon stall of beautiful Moroccan ceramics of all shapes and sizes. From large round plates with bright orange flowers to traditional tagines of cobalt blue, the intricate designs and astonishing colors make it hard to believe that most of the pieces were made by hand in a town called Safi.
Safi is the pottery capital of Morocco. This quiet coastal town has a diversified industry known for its sardines and seafood as well as its ceramics. While it is an industrial town don’t let that discourage you from visiting, it still boasts beautiful architecture, most of which are remnants of the Portuguese occupation including the old medina and Portuguese Citadel – or Kechla. There is also the potter’s quarter which is home to all of the potters’ workshop and is a popular destination for tourists.
The Potter’s Quarter
Despite Safi being an industrial town life goes on as it has for centuries for the potters in the old potter’s quarter. Safi boasts the oldest pottery kilns in Morocco and the potters there are famous for their plates and tagines with turquoise, white and cream-colored backgrounds and also for the famous green tiles that can be seen on roofs in all the major cities. All of their pieces are still made by hand and are a major source of income for the town of Safi. Row upon row of potters’ workshops can be found displaying their breathtaking works of art and tourists are welcome to watch the potters at work as they create their masterpieces.
Pottery and ceramics have always been produced and used in Morocco. In early Morocco unglazed earthen pots were used to store food and water and were key to survival. Glazed and painted ceramics however, were always made to be decorative and only sometimes useful. As imports of fine china became more common Moroccan pottery became more decorative which allowed for potters to create more elaborate designs on their pieces.
Pottery-making is truly an art form and Safi pottery is appreciated for its intricate paintings and beautiful colors and can be found in homes world-wide.