Tamegroute's Magnificent Green Ceramics
Updated: Jan 4
A Journey Back in Time
In Southern Morocco, a long dusty road takes you back in time, to Tamegroute, a small village right at the edge of the Sahara Desert. Tamegroute is home to seven families of artisans who have been practicing pottery for centuries, passing down techniques and secret alchemy recipes from generation to generation. Every family owns a little workshop, dating all the way back to the mid-1600s. These masterful artisans still use manual pottery wheels. These wheels are kept in a clay hut made from the same materials used to form pots and tiles.
These pottery workshops aren’t just ancient, they’re also home to one of the greatest secrets of Morocco, the unique shade of Tamegroute green glaze that cannot be found anywhere else in the world!
The Secret of Tamegroute's Green Pottery
The artisans of Tamegroute source all their raw, natural materials from the surrounding areas around the village. Clay is collected from nearby palm groves by digging deep holes in the ground, up to ten meters deep. Palm tree branches are used as fuel for the stone kiln.
The signature green glaze, a secret mixture passed on from generation to generation, contains a particular type of rock found in local mines a few hundred kilometers away and undisclosed amounts of manganese, silica, cobalt, copper, and barley flour. The concoction is mixed with water in a huge basin and left to thicken for about a week, after which the pottery is hand dipped into the glazing mixture. Once this process is complete, the pottery is baked in one of the seven age-old ovens in Tamegroute. It is this firing process that is thought to be key to the multi-shade green color that has yet to be replicated anywhere else in the world.
“The color never fades” says Said Dani, one of the local artisans.
The future of Tamegroute Ceramics A number of years ago, after a visit from the king of Morocco to Tamegroute, the government decided to build a modern workspace for the local pottery artisans. The spacious quarters, which have now been completed, are equipped with electric pottery wheels as well as solar and gas-powered kilns, replacing their traditional centuries-old equipment.
Many of the artisans are looking forward to having more space to work. The families have grown and they are often cramped. But for Said Dani, the biggest concern is whether the modern stoves will be able to replicate the same irregular green color they are famous for. Several years ago, they were given a gas stove but they found that the glaze became a uniform green color. Thus, they continued firing their pieces the traditional way. Dani is willing to give the new space a chance. However, he won’t let anyone touch the historic workspace.
Nestled within the surrounding kasbahs, there are plans to restore the historic workspace so that visitors can still visit the pottery’s birthplace. “It’s our treasure,” Dani says. “One day the original green pottery will be worth a fortune.”
Whether Tamegroute pottery will become a collectable is to be discovered, but one thing is for certain — Tamegroute ceramics are a true cultural and artistic treasure. Each hand spun and fired plate, bowl and cup is a fascinating work of art that bears the mystery and ingenuity of centuries-past.
Adapted from an original article written by Sandrine Ceurstemont for Journey Beyond Travel