For centuries, the city of Fez has been famous for its artisans and craftsmen who have been producing unique and exquisite handmade products. Among these talented individuals is Mohammed, a skilled craftsman who has been making musical instruments for most of his life.
Mohammed comes from a long line of instrument makers. His grandfather started making instruments for musicians in Fez 80 years ago, and his father continued the tradition. Today, Mohammed works with his father and brother in their shop located in the Medina in Fez.
Their instruments are made using a variety of materials such as goat and camel leather, ceramics, brass, iron, wood, and even dried fish skin. The leather and fish skin are dried in the air, not in the sun, to make it strong. The instruments they produce include tam-tam and daboka (drums), Rak (tambourines), and many styles of 3 string guitars called Ganbri in Marrakech, Santir in Fez, and Hajhouj in Essaouira. They also make Kakaba, cymbals for each hand.
The instruments are not only beautiful, but they are also durable and well-made. The cost of each instrument depends on how much work and how detailed the designs are. The camel leather is cut into very thin strips and used for both simple and complex designs and weaving on the sides of the drums.
Mohammed and his family used to have 10 people working for them, but did experience some hardship during the pandemic due to closures of the local souks. However, they continue to play music most of the day until customers come to the shop. Despite the challenges, they take pleasure in knowing that musicians seek out their instruments.
Their instruments can be found all over Morocco, particularly at music festivals. Musicians appreciate the unique sound and quality of the instruments, and they take pride in using a product that is handmade with care and attention to detail.
As society begins to open up, Mohammed and his family plan to bring back their workers to help them produce even more instruments. They are passionate about their craft and are committed to preserving their family's legacy by continuing to make beautiful and unique musical instruments that are beloved by musicians and appreciated by all who see them.