Marrakech Tanneries:
A Colorful World of Tradition and Innovation

Marrakech is known for its vibrant colors, delicious cuisine, and bustling markets. But there is one aspect of the city that often goes unnoticed: the tanneries.

As you approach the tanneries, the smell of leather and dye is intense, and it’s hard to miss the tanners standing waist-deep in large vats of dye, stirring the skins with long wooden paddles. But what might surprise you, even more, is the sight of pigeons circling overhead, and the piles of pigeon feces lining the rooftops and ledges around the tanneries.

Believe it or not, pigeon feces is actually an important ingredient in the leather-making process. The ammonia in the feces helps to soften the leather and prepare it for dyeing. Before the skins are dyed, they are soaked in a mixture of water and pigeon feces, which helps to loosen the hair and other debris from the surface of the skin.

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