UNESCO Grants Intangible Heritage Status to Morocco’s Metal Engraving Art.


In the heart of Fez, Morocco, the intricate art of metal engraving has been honed by skilled artisans for centuries, becoming a vital thread in the cultural fabric of this African nation.


Passed down through generations, the techniques of metal engraving have evolved into a cornerstone of Morocco’s cultural identity. According to Mohamed Arnani, owner of an engraving workshop in Fez, this ancient craft began in the late 12th and early 13th centuries in Fez and later spread to other cities, notably Marrakesh.


Metal engraving encompasses a meticulous series of steps, each contributing to the creation of engravings that narrate tales of tradition and craftsmanship. Arnani explains that engraving on metals involves multiple geometric shapes, botanical inspirations, and abstract designs born from the artist’s imagination.


The journey commences with the careful selection of high-quality copper. Moncef Adyel, owner of a copper workshop in Fez, outlines the process, starting with drawing and precision measurements, followed by cutting, engraving, and assembling the pieces.


Craftsmen employ traditional tools to breathe life into designs on metal surfaces, using techniques such as bas-relief engraving, creating slightly raised designs, and intaglio engraving, which involves incising designs into the metal for a subtler outcome.


These age-old techniques passed down through the mentorship of master artisans, showcase the diversity and depth of metal engraving in Fez.


Ensuring the craft’s continued survival and relevance involves a crucial marketing aspect. As designs take shape, artisans strive to balance tradition with contemporary demands. Adyel mentions the ongoing efforts to renew the craft, introducing modern paintings and tables alongside traditional pieces like the iconic Moroccan chandelier found in mosques.


Morocco, in recent years, has actively promoted its metal engravings both domestically and internationally. Recognizing the threat to this intangible heritage, the country has taken proactive steps to safeguard it. Educational programs have been initiated to ensure the transmission of knowledge to future generations.


Mustapha Jellok, director of the cultural heritage youth, culture, and communication ministry in Rabat, acknowledges the threat of extinction to this craft but emphasizes Morocco’s efforts in protecting it. The inclusion of metal engraving in the World Heritage is seen as a significant step in preserving and valuing the skills associated with this art form.


Fez’s local markets serve as vibrant platforms for showcasing and selling this unique art. The medina attracts tourists and collectors alike, with workshops and galleries displaying an array of designs, bridging tradition and contemporary aesthetics.


By recognizing metal engraving as a vital part of its cultural heritage, Morocco aims not only to protect but also to promote the identity woven into each meticulously crafted piece. The marriage of tradition and innovation ensures that this ancient craft remains relevant, cherished, and passed on to future generations.

Choose your Reaction!
Leave a Comment