RL Magazine
Message from the Editor
By Lyndsey Turner

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After the RLA Conference & Expo in Amsterdam I made my way over to Morocco for a few days of vacation. While in Marrakesh I toured the tanneries. Tanneries are where they treat animal skins to prepare them for leather craft.

After an adventure to find the tanneries threw the twisting an turning souks of Marrakesh we finally found them. A young man that works there was nice enough to show us around and explain the process. First, to soften the skin, they soak them in a bath of pigeon droppings. That’s right, I said pigeon droppings. The chemicals in it have an acidic natural softening agent. This also makes the product last longer as it is not treated with harsh chemicals. I asked “how do you collect to droppings”? We were told that the tribal women of the Atlas Mountains collect it and there is a great trade route threw the mountains for this. In exchange for the pigeon droppings the tribes get paid handsomely with sugar, rice or spices, which are hard to come by in the rural areas of the Atlas Mountains.

After soaking for days the skins are put in baths of henna for brown color, mint for green, indigo for blue, poppie flowers for red and saffron for yellow. All these products are also acquired by trade. The Tanneries have no bi-product. Meat goes to the butcher market, wool and fur goes to the textile market and other parts are used for handicrafts, building materials and animal feed.

The Tanneries have a very strong odor but our guide gave us sprigs of mint to hold under our noses to ease the pain. At the end of the tour we tossed our mint sprigs into some goat hide that was soaking in for green purses that will be made in a few days after drying.

Most tanneries are run by families, some large families have butchers, artist and farmers thus everyone in the family will profit from the entire process with absolutely no waste.

Happy Travels!

Lyndsey Turner, Editor • Editor@RLA.org

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