Preserving Tradition: Moroccan Basket Weaving

By Weronika | February 3rd, 2024   3 Comments
huge basket to smuggle home

Threads of Tradition.

Weave and wander with us and meet the beautiful Aisha. Her baskets are handwoven with palm leaves, using skills she’s perfected over her lifetime.

Basket Weaving

In our world today, most of the items we own in our households are produced in factories, in speedy production lines manned by machines, with only quantity and profit in mind. We forget the beauty of connecting with the items we own, with their stories. This artisan basket weaving experience was a great reminder of that.

Our tour operator, Walking With Nomads arranged this beautiful experience as a complete surprise for us. We left our Dar ( Arabic for house) with our driver and walked deep into the mud-walled village. It was a sunny morning and after a few minutes walking we were met outside a little property. There were some cosy blankets, colourful cushions (mint tea of course) and a very bright soul – a Berber lady named Aisha.

Aisha lives at the property with her husband and a few of her children. Her husband was cooking his breakfast on a small stove in the morning sun while Aisha was smiling a huge welcome. She has been a basket weaver for years, and you could see this with the speed yet precision of her creation. She does this as a way to bring in extra income to support herself and her family.

The baskets are 100% natural, and the process consists of wrapping leaves, in this instance date palm leaves, around small bunches of grass. Aisha showed us to a big pile of dried leaves by her home, and explained she soaks them in water before use, to make them easier to wrap. The only tool she uses is a small handle with a thick needle, used to puncture holes which Aisha coils the leaves through. It’s an amazing example of using all available natural resources to create something beautiful – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The time it takes her to complete a basket varies by its shape and size – some can take numerous days to complete, whereas smaller ones only hours.

The funnest part of the experience was getting to have a go! I initially felt slightly reluctant to begin working on the basket base that Aisha had previously weaved, with fear of ruining the symmetrical and intricate design. However, we were all kindly encouraged to put what we learnt into practice. Aisha made sure each one of us gave it a try. We asked her if her children had learned this from her but she explained that she is the only one in her family to use the skill of basket weaving, and you could see the joy teaching others brought her.

basket weaving with Aisha
I’m not going to lie, the kittens were also part of the reason I fell in love with this day in Morocco.

 Aisha enjoyed our company, and we enjoyed hers – she said she loves to meet and converse with new people, from different parts of the world. Her face was alight and her eyes sparkled the whole time. The natural properties of the basket’s leaves also give beautiful variegated colours and even at home in dreary England I enjoy that.

I purchased a basket Aisha previously created, and we were all really worried about how to carry it home as it was huge. We tried squeezing it into our suitcases before finally giving up and simply holding it, praying the airline wouldn’t confiscate it. In the end, they didn’t even seem to notice it and it made it all the way to London. I so love having this displayed in my home and whenever I see it, it reminds me of the hot Moroccan sun, and Aisha’s heartwarming aura. Its a basket with a story.

huge basket to smuggle home
Huge basket to smuggle home

This is a simple experience, a chance to just be. To interact with a beautiful soul and to have a snapshot into her life and crafted heritage. One large basket can take Aisha several weeks to complete, meaning the time consuming craft is at risk but Aisha is also going to start making smaller baskets in case anyone else is worried about airline restrictions.

Like everything, the process is much more mesmerising in person, so come and get involved!

kitten and basket weaving

Thank you Weronika, for your beautiful blog about Aisha.

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