A Visit to the Anou

It’s been said, “Traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

This spring found me once again in Marrakech. I decided to try something new this trip and stretch my creative soul a bit, so I enrolled in one of the weaving retreats at the beautiful Maison 28.

My long-time friend, travel companion and now proud guest house owner Melanie Royals has been leading her weaving retreats to various cooperatives within the Anou community along with Moroccan born weaving artisan Asmaa Aman-Tran. We left early one morning for an overnight trip into the high desert and made our way to visit the Afous g Afous Cooperative, a unique weaver’s association made up of over 20 women located a few miles from Ouarzazate, a city just south of Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains.

Part of The Anou Community, this cooperative specializes in weaving beautiful rugs and bags from wool they have spun and hand dyed with natural materials such as turmeric and pomegranate. Between two delicious meals and lots of sweet tea, we were honored with a live demonstration of their dying process as well as the warping of a vertical loom. Their results are simply beautiful.

“Afous Ghoufous, or hand in hand, is a powerful saying in the Amazigh language in Morocco that signifies the solidarity of the Amazigh people. Fadma Mohsine [insert pic of Fadma] is a living example of Afous Ghoufous. At the age of 15, Fadma unexpectedly became partially disabled in her extremities. Despite what many would consider a setback, she decided to continue learning how to weave from her mom. Fadma then combined what many villagers describe as her 'stunning intellect' with her weaving ability to create new and innovative designs using natural dyes — the first in her village to do so. Despite Fadma's success as a weaver, she saw that many women in her village still struggled to develop their weaving craft and become financially independent. As such, she began teaching a group of women in her village how to weave which in 2009 would become what is now known as Association Afous g Afous. Today, Fadma provides mentorship to the women of the association. Hand in hand, the women have overcome many barriers to successfully grow their cooperative and hope that their sales will enable them to make a wider impact on all the women in her village.”theanou.com

These women with their quiet spirit of cooperation are an inspiration and what keeps the beautiful art of weaving alive. Their gracious hospitality and faces full of smiles will forever be in my memories.

Learn more about the Anou community here: https://helloanou.wordpress.com

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