Features | Visions of my ancestors

My father and his ancestors originate from Morocco. Despite having visited the country many times, it is a place that I feel connected to, but that remains unknown to me. My family lives in Casablanca, and most of my visits involve walking through the city’s saturated streets, or sitting around a circular table with family members, sharing a majestic meal from the same earth platter. Three years ago, my father brought me to Fez for the first time, the city my family comes from. We made our way through a souq and were guided to a leather tannery. Circular shapes of different shades, longing odours, tangerine skies. There is something haunting about a job in which the body plunges into coloured circles all day; from the cow to the skin, from the skin to the dye. I observed the tannery workers as they dipped the leather, with the lower half of their bodies hidden below the dye. A man stood a level above them and positioned the tinted skin against the wall, waiting for it to dry. A whole world of colour and craft that I had never imagined existed was taking place before me. Imagining my family three generations ago still working within this souq and community, working with their hands, made me feel an overwhelming sense of both distance and inspiration. I took my camera out of my green leather bag and let myself drift.

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