Morocco – Ourika Valley

The Ourika Valley is situated a little over 50km south of Marrakesh, the capital of Morocco. While lucious waterfalls attract tourists annually, the rarity of Berber pottery draws art collectors from around the world. Berbers, an indigenous ethnic group in the region, has been producing distinctive pottery reflecting its mixed cultural heritage for centuries. Influenced by the Carthaginians and Greeks, their tribal motifs feature lively colours and intricate geometric designs. These designs tend to include circular patterns, repetition, symmetry and alterations in scale that create multifaceted results.

In contrast to the glazed appearance of urban pottery, these pieces have a coarse finish and earth tones. Moroccan Berber vase, earth colour (clay with silver inlay) (232) These are produced traditionally by a hand coiling technique or through the use of a lathe as a wheel by men only. While the coiling method dates back to neolithic times, the latter was introduced in the beginning of the 13th century. The products were developed for culinary purposes. From the 20th century, the quality declined due to industrialization. However, after Morroccon potters spent time in France, the quality was ressurected and has regained worldwide respectability. Moroccan Berber vase, green glazed with cover (clay with silver inlay) (231). The Ourika Valley still boasts a unique style and superb level of craftsmanship.