>Portraits of Riad Laksiba Service Providers – FABRICS

Posted on May 6, 2011


>BATOUL – TEXTILES & FABRICS Photo: Batoul (Old Slave Market) by Simon Hawkesley & Abdelhamid Bousaadi

Batoul can be found, hidden away in the Old Slave Market in the Marrakech Souks.

A few times each week the Old Slave Market is taken over by Rag Trade Merchants. Unusually they are predominantly women.

Photo: Nordie & Simon (Old Slave Market) after a sucessful Tray purchase by Clare Williams

I have noticed that when I suggest that I am off to the Old Slave Market to see Batoul and the ladies; Abdou and Abdelhamid shudder, back off and argue over who’s turn is to go. The victim, usually Abdou, finally agrees; on the condition that he can sit and chat to Nordie & Zac, the Witch-Doctors, who’s Apothecary is also located in the Old Slave Market, whilst I undertake negotiations and will only assist post sale should I need assistance to carry merchandise back to Riad Laksiba.

Photo: Batoul et al by Simon Hawkesley & Abdelhamid Boussadi

It would be fair to say that negotiations can last a little while longer than anticipated; even if one has anticipated quite some time. On saying that…. I love it and feel privileged to be able to immerse myself into a centuries old culture and loose myself in the gaggle of comment, innuendo and conversation.

I don’t quite know where the politics start and finish, with the ladies chatting to a white, male, non-national, married, infidel but it seems to work; although creating the occasional stare of curiosity from other locals who ostensively end up joining the banter.

Batoul and her colleagues sell everything from single shoes, to beautiful hand woven tapestries, to new pillow covers made of Cactus Silk, to teapots and trays. All the stuff that makes a house a home. Mainly second-hand or; to my daughter Hannah’s generation “Vintage”.

The hours are not necessarily spent sifting through the bulk to find that must-have bargain…. more… sipping mint tea whilst Batoul and her clutch thrust garments in your direction, anticipating and scrutinising your reaction, whilst they sharpen their aim with what they consider “more appropiate choices”. The negotiation starts when a glimmer of interest is sensed; then, apparently, you are staring at the finest article in the arsenal.

Photo: Hannah & Kaitlin donning Tribal Tattoo’s by Simon Hawkesley

For respite; Batoul makes a great “Mint Tea” and is a dab-hand at creating Tribal Henna Tattoo’s, much to Hannah & Kaitlin’s delight. Tattoo & Tea over and the negotiations commence.

Finally…. a Fabric deal is struck and Abdou will wander over with Nordie to ensure that I have not paid too much for the hospitality !

Photo: Finally… a Fabric deal by Simon Hawkesley