I love to travel, who doesn't. But on my travels I also like to learn; to entwine myself into different cultures, leave the western world behind me and in some cases feel like I've travelled back in time.
Despite not actually time-travelling - what is actually happening? Our western culture is rather materialistic, we have such a diverse culture that our English heritage seems to have been lost. Yes we have castles, monuments, relics in museums, crusader boats on display and heritage sites like Stonehenge. But what do we see around us day to day. Modern cars, advertising billboards, fast motorways, beautiful countryside with vast forests and open lakes. Our country is beautiful but we rarely stop and think about it.
Do we have any symbolic meaning amongst us. Of course we do, but do we pay much attention to them. When you think of English symbols we have three lions on a shirt, St George's cross and a red rose. These three are symbolic to England as a whole, but it is hard for my mind not to drift to our national sports teams namely football and rugby.
I will digress away from England and transport you to North Africa into a country that I have grown to love - Morocco. When I first arrived, I was hit with the all to well known heat barrier we cross when the aeroplane door opens and you step foot onto another nations soil. Once out the airport, the heat, the noise, the smell, the scenery, the air, the atmosphere, the people, the culture it all changes. Suddenly I was having to adjust to the new environment.
It is this change on environment that I love and why I love my job. Sourcing leather products for my wonderful customer base from different parts of the world consumes me in different cultures, environments alighting all of my five senses.
A taxi deposited me in the centre of Marrakesh, a short walk away from Jemaa el-Fna a busy gathering spot within the Medina. The square was a chaotic mixture of snake charmers, market stalls, food stalls, people, music, noise. Mentally overstimulating you find yourself walking so slowly trying to take it all in. Making sure not to get knock down by a motorcycle, taxi, car or bus.
The Jemaa el-Fna has so much to offer in terms of market stalls. You can buy anything you want from here but I got the sense this was heavily reliant on tourism and purchasing their souvenirs to take home. Be that a tagine pot, a metal lantern, black soap, spices or some argan oil.
But off the edges of the square people were snaking in and out of cobbled streets. I didn't know what to expect entering the maze of the souks all I knew was I was properly going to get lost. But those who roam don't get lost but discover. There was so much to discover down these cobbled streets and I immersed myself trying to take everything in.
The souks to the untrained eye seem like an urban jungle with no order. But actually they are rather well organised, not to our department stores of England level of organised, but there are areas for leather, blacksmiths, slippers, jewellers, dyers and carpeteners amongst the rest.
Due to the nature of my business, I headed for the leather work district and it is here that my artisan and I first met. My artisan is a wonderful man who uses the traditional methods to make our wonderful leather belts and dog collars out of camel and lambskin.
Tribeswomen in the Atlas Mountains hand weave the kilim, which is a flat-tapestry woven carpet traditional to Morocco and the Berber tribe. If you have read my last blog post, you will know colours can have symbolic meaning to them, but in terms of Berber tradition, there is symbolic value within the symbols as well.
It amazes me how our world of design and fashion is marketable to the latest trend, to be in season, the latest craze. But our kilim products with their beautiful designs, colours and symbols have so much meaning and value that dates to traditions that haven't changed for thousands of years. I am in awe of how the past is still so present in all of Adorn LDW's kilim products.
Take the dog collar below, modelled by my wonderful companion Ralph. The black and white section resembles a saw. This is a symbol of metalworkers, whose occupation is treated with fearful respect as metal keeps away jnoun (Ghosts).
The saw symbol can be found in other products also.
One of my other favourite symbols is the eye. A symbol for protection against the evil eye.
There are symbols for fertility, protection, strength and beauty to name but a few.
[Figures above: Credit to http://www.marrakechhennaartcollection.com/amazigh-symbols.html]
After looking at the figures above, a second look at our product range and you can see you are not just purchasing a belt or dog collar from Morocco. But a beautiful designed product with traditional values and symbolism right at its core.
You can browse our belts and dog collars from Morocco and after reading this blog post hopefully you have a better understanding of what some of the designs represent and you can always refer back to the figures above.