Monday, May 23, 2016

Antiques in the Fez Medina - Photo Essay

Hunting for antiques in Fez is a fascinating undertaking. While there are a lot of specialist shops, it is often a case of "caveat emptor" because there are many finely crafted modern creations that can fool anyone without an expert eye

The View From Fez recently visited respected antique expert, Chakib Badrane, who gave us a guided tour of genuine antiques and offered some sound advice to potential buyers.
"Unless you are an expert, you can often only tell a modern replica of an antique by visiting several shops and comparing the items. So, if you are coming to Fez, plan on spending a few days. Doing this will be rewarding"- Chakib Badrane

An Amazigh (Berber) "shula" in an intricate scabbard 
A decorative metal box
Bone and silver inlaid small chest
A rare table and seat

The Fez Medina is also a great place to find antique Moroccan ceramic bowls and jars with silver filigree work. Spend plenty of time examining what is on offer and bargaining as the first price is usually much higher than what will be accepted.

A beautiful silver and camel bone inlaid vase
An inlaid ceramic bowl 

Many collectors come to Fez in search of Jewish antiques. While there are lots of stories about artefacts being from Jewish Berbers - "They are nomadic so they kept the mezuzah around their neck or on their camel" - most of this is fanciful. However, there are genuine artefacts both old and new and a little time and patience will help you sort out the genuine articles.

Sephardic Torah Case (Tikim)
Sephardic Torah pointer (yad), a "hamza" and mezuzah
A plate depicting the twelve tribes of Israel
A beautiful prayer book holder

Among the other treasures, Chakib showed us an amazing large astrolabe - a two-dimensional model of the celestial sphere. The name has its origins from the Greek words astron and lambanien meaning "the one who catches the heavenly bodies". The astrolabe was once the most used, multipurpose astronomical instrument.

The principles of the astrolabe projection were known before 150 B.C., and true astrolabes were made before A.D. 400. The astrolabe was highly developed in the Islamic world by 800 and was introduced to Europe from Islamic Spain (al-Andalus) in the early 12th century. It was the most popular astronomical instrument until about 1650, when it was replaced by more specialised and accurate instruments. This one is particularly large and I suspect the price would be astronomical!

An Riffian Amazigh pen and ink set
A pen and ink set inscribed with "Al Humdullilah"

And finally,  for the house that has everything ... a genuine Amazigh double oil container - each side is closed off so that two types of oil can be offered.

NOTE!  You can click on images to enlarge


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