Saida 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. Saida, recently stepped down as the President of the Association to focus more of her time on her mother-in-law’s declining health.
When did you learn how to weave and who taught you?
I grew up in a “Major” (Takat in Amazigh) family which means we lived in a big home where my Grandparents, Parents, Aunts/Uncles and cousins all lived together.
Starting at around nine or ten I would join my Mom, Aunts and Grandma as they sat in a circle preparing, dyeing and weaving wool. I remember that there was a bit of friendly competition with everyone, they all wanted to be faster than their neighbor as they spun the wool and weaved rugs.
My Mom (pictured below) was strict about what I could and could not do when it came to weaving. She would only allow me to learn how to prepare wool; brushing, carding, and spinning. She wanted me to focus on my education and felt that if I learned how to weave, it would distract from my studies.
As I got older and saw my friends learning how to make rugs I started to sneak out and sit with them in their homes and watch as they wove on their loom.
When I was in middle school I got the courage to show my Mom, Aunts and Grandma that I was able to weave and bring them the new designs I was working on. I remember them being impressed with my skill level and from that point on they would always encourage me to share my point of view when weaving new pieces.
Do you have a favorite technique to weave?
I belong to the Ait Ouaouzguite tribe and admire all the rugs that are made from my tribe. We specialize in Flatweave, Low Hand-Knot and Zanafi rugs. I love the rugs from my Aunts and Grandmas. The rugs are full of symbolic motifs that represent their own story.
The style that I love to weave is one that combines all the techniques I know how to weave. We use a Flatweave for the base and create design motifs with Hand-Knot, Embroidery and Zanafi weaving techniques.
What rug do you cherish the most?
During the COVID lockdown I made a rug that represented the sunset over the Village I reside in, Anzal. I used a Blue base for the Sky and accented the piece with deep hues of pinks, oranges, and greens to showcase the changing colors of the landscape. I included design motifs that represented protection and well wishes for everyone in the village as we were going through a period with such uncertainty. Weaving is a form of my self expression and is a way for me to express my inner thoughts and feelings.
What do you love to do beyond weaving?
After many years of leading the Anzal Association I took a step aside to focus on taking care of my mother-in-law. In my free time I love to cook utilizing the food that I grow in my yard. I also love spending time with my three children, Zahira, Ghizlan and Yahya.
Thanks so much for the inspiring convo, Saida! Shop pieces woven by Saida and her colleagues below!
Translated by Abdellatif Mouhsine. Please note that some answers may have been edited or condensed for the sake of clarity.