Having visited Marrakech, I believe Morocco’s material culture is the colours of the clothes worn by women and men, the pink of the buildings and the vibrance of the tiles. The extravagance and detail in the most hidden of buildings makes every turn of the jungle-like souqs a beautiful discovery, stunning architecture scattered between stalls of scarves and carpets and rugs. Morocco’s material culture is in every hand made high quality piece of leather, metal work and stitching. It is in the costumes worn by performers, the tassels upon tassels in every colour from red to purple, the traditional patterns sewn into fabric. It is the henna which decorates our skin and embraces us into the culture and the beautiful women who draw so carefully. Morocco’s material cultural is so vast and vibrant, I believe we only got an insight into it in the week we spent in Marrakech.
Experiencing the complete contrast of culture in Morocco, I realised more about our material culture in a Westernised country. When you are accustomed to certain things and had grown up only knowing your own culture in detail, it is easy to assume you lack a culture, as the things that build your culture are taken for granted and assumed as natural. I would’ve always said our culture is compiled of lots of different cultures as we live in a very multicultural society, however, I believe this is more true of Morocco. Marrakech alone is the home of so many different religions, traditions and cultures living harmoniously with one another, their ways of life completely different but coexisting peacefully along side each other. Western culture is, I believe, a different kind of multiculture. I believe our material culture is made up of a sort of compromise between the many different cultures that inhabit the places we live to form one Western, multicultural society. This is neither completely one culture of another, but the creation of many different cultures bleeding into one another, over lapping, learning and teaching to great one culture with the brilliant elements of each individual one.
The Morocco study trip has taught me a lot. Not just about pattern and colour (which it taught me a lot about!) but also about culture, religion, misconceptions and manipulation of the media, traditions, and a lot about my own culture too. Speaking to people in Marrakech showed me the peaceful religion that is practised out of love and faith, a misunderstood religion of peace completely misconstrued in the media. I learnt that I have a culture by experiencing a different one, comparing the normalities of my own life to the normalities of theirs. I experienced Moroccan, Berber, African, Muslim, Christian and Jewish people coexisting peacefully together, a topic which is so relevant to current affairs and made me realise (further) the hilarity and ridiculousness of the view that these people of these walks of life cannot coexist together. I learnt to appreciate what I have and to take nothing for granted for I am so very lucky to have everything that I do. The Moroccan people we met at the blind school and women’s social enterprise taught me to never give up or allow misfortunes to disable me. I learnt that making things with your hands is still the most pure and beautiful form of creation, imperfection individualising every leather bag, every pained tile, every embroidered scarf. The trip to Marrakech inspired me to travel more, to experience more and to immerse myself in cultures different to my own. It is only through this, I believe, that we can gain a true understanding of an insight into the way people live in different cities of the world to us.