Berber women of Morocco Exhibition March 21 – July 20, 2014 by Alaa Eddine Sagid

Berber women of Morocco  Exhibition  March 21 – July 20, 2014 by Alaa Eddine Sagid

Yves Saint Laurent is considered among the most famous Western artists to have been adopted by Morocco.

Beginning with his first travels in Marrakech, the impression made by this country followed him into many of his catwalk creations.

What started as a timely inspiration eventually evolved into a deep love, making the artist succumb to the red city call which he would continue to visit throughout his lifetime.

Following the old Orientalist trail, Yves bought the decrepit old house of an early devotee to Marrakech : JAQCQUES MAJORELLE who in the beginning of the 20th century set up his creative workshop in the eponymous building.

This Marrakshı landmark transformed into a private den by the designer was soon piled high with everythıng remotely connected to Morocco: A collector was born!

The villa was eventually transformed into the museum of Berber arts and years after the death of Yves, the collection was the core element of many an exhibition around the world.

The ´´ MOROCCAN PASSION´´ or the special connection between Yves and Morocco was the major axis through which all these objects were displayed, BUT for the first time, the ongoing Parisian exhibit was to break the tradition as it is offering  a tribute to the women who were the depositors, the inspiration and often the makers of the different collection objects!

FEMMES BERBERES DU MAROC exhibition ıs a travelling story of the Majorelle museum, the foundation hosting the event was transformed into an ingenuous setting which embodies the design concept of the museum´s curator: Bjorn Dahlstrom:

A lit ceiling appears as if it was the milky way, many screens with old pictures of heavily jewelled Berber beauties, a comprehensive and clear labelling of every artefact and a background soundtrack to die for.

Profusion, coloured, rare, archaic, lively and neat.

Every single corner of the exhibition space provides it’s share of amazement.

From the entrance the visitor faces a big screen displaying old and seldom published pictures, the most prominent of which is that of a majestic ´´TAMANART´´ woman with a very scarce silver hair ring / talhakımt!

But before ındulgıng in the core of the adornment and jewellery section, everyone passes a selection of masterfully woven rugs, each highlighting a different region of Berber Morocco.

In the privacy of their mountain dwellings, Berber women would allow their true artistry to flow, spawning a multitude of furniture objects: rugs but also earthenware vessels carefully and patently modelled far from the male dedicated thrown pottery!

After such tırıng duty, every Berber woman needs to clam her feminine side and it simply unfolds as the next section of the exhibition suggests in the use of make up objects such as a kohl container, a silver framed mirror or the ultimate and somehow geeky all-that-you-can-use-makeup in one vessel

Then comes the attire, always woven, sometimes naively embroidered or even henna dyed.

Belts galore and a profusion of footwear!

Jewelry is definitely the icing on the cake, showcased on models with a regional setting

The Marrakesh museum ıs where the exhibit has sourced most of the items on display but here and there other distinguished provenances filled in the gaps such as the complete AIT SEGHROUCHEN chest and head sets haılıng from the Parısıan QUAI BRANLY museum: All nıello and all wonderful.

Some private collectors are also present through a couple of loans.

Silver, coral, amber chunks and beads all over the place, often masterfully and genuinely beautiful, sometimes bearing the restrung fantasies of some Marrakesh dealers and rarely mislabeled as is the case of a couple  Algerian pieces assigned to the inkling idea of ´´PRE-SAHARA´´

“Oh Wait”, look at that striking enameled and carnelian stud Anti-Atlas Headdress! It is the very same Sarah Corbett and I closely handled during the last Auction sale of Berber jewellery held ın Paris a while ago!

Now that is a surprise but thinking it through the connection is clear to me.

In a matter of weeks it changed hands, from an anonymous french seller to a prominent Marrakesh dealer and finally in the storage of Majorelle museum until back again to Paris for our delighted eyes….. a nice and rare buy for the museum!

Generosity ıs the key word to our visit…

Generosity of our eyes gazes

Generosity of our discreet Wows

Generosity of the Berber artists

Generosity of the Berber women

Generosity of the collector…..

When you love, you don’t count!