Jamilla belongs to the Women-Only Association that is located in the Village of Anzal, located about 30 km north of the popular weaving town, Tazenakht. The Anzal collective was founded in 2007 and is kept alive by women passing the craft down through the generations.
When did you learn how to weave and who taught you?
I grew up in Ait Tigga, situated in Morocco's Siroua region, about an hour northwest from where I currently reside. The village is renowned for its rich history in weaving.
While there was a local primary school, the closest school for older kids was about an hour away. As a result, at the age of 10, I had the privilege of learning the art of weaving from my brother's wife, Rokia.
In our family tradition, women pass down their weaving skills to younger generations.
Rokia not only taught me how to weave but also introduced me to the fascinating world of dyeing wool using natural plants and spices found in our village. I became deeply engrossed in creating various color hues through different formulas we derived from the natural dyes.
Do you have a favorite technique to weave?
I have two favorites for different reasons.
For technical ability I enjoy the Zanafi technique. It is the most difficult weave. It requires you to really concentrate on the weave as each row is created with an intricate system of counting.
For creativity, I love the Hand-Knot style. The knotting technique allows you to create quite complicated patterns. This technique gives me a creative outlet to m express what’s on my mind and share what’s going on around me. From traditional motifs to more modern designs I can bring both to life in this style.
What rug do you cherish the most?
The rug that holds the dearest place in my heart wasn't crafted by me but by my mother-in-law. Her passing during the COVID was extremely hard, but having her this rug in our home allows us to feel her presence.
Hand-knotted, it features a blend of natural black wool accented with saffron-dyed yarn. The design showcases a repetitive pattern of symbols that hold deep cultural significance, representing protection and peace.
It currently sits in the salon where we welcome our guests for tea. My intention is for it to remain in our family for generations to come.
What do you love to do beyond weaving?
Collecting saffron flowers is an activity that I deeply enjoy.
Growing up in a village renowned for its saffron, I have fond memories of my childhood days, not only immersed in weaving but also wandering through the fields, gathering the delicate flowers.
Whenever I have the chance to partake in this activity now, it transports me back to those carefree time and serves as a way to reconnect with nature.
Beyond spending as much time with my three children, I also enjoy raising my goats and doing other daily tasks of taking care of the house.
Thanks so much for the inspiring convo, Jamilla! Shop pieces woven by Jamilla and her colleagues here and below!
Translated by Abdellatif Mouhsine. Please note that some answers may have been edited or condensed for the sake of clarity.