Meet the Artisan is an interview series where we dive deeper into the background of the Amazigh artisans who are the backbone of Salam Hello. Our mission is to preserve and share the tradition and symbolism—from our artisans’ hands to your home. Each interview explores their history with the weaving tradition, how and when they were taught and what they like to do beyond the loom.
Zahara 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 was born and raised in Anzal and my childhood home housed both my parents, siblings and grandparents from my Mom’s side.
When I was around seven years old my Mom and Grandma began to teach me how to weave.
At that time in our village it was still rare for young girls to go to school, my Mom was too scared to allow me to go and thus weaving became my education.
I learned how to dye wool from my Grandma and how to weave from my Mom and Aunts.
My Grandma was an expert dyer and would spend hours with me teaching all the different combinations of plants and herbs from the local area to achieve a wide array of colors. Still to this day I love to naturally dye wool, it allows me to still feel close to my Grandma.
Pictured below is Zahara bringing out all the natural dyes:
My Mom and Aunts focused on teaching me how to weave the various techniques of our region.
Weaving was integral into my upbringing and it still holds a special place in my heart.
Do you have a favorite technique to weave?
I enjoy weaving all the techniques that our region is known for, Flatweave, Low Hand-Knot and Zanafi, but if I had to choose one technique it would definitely be the Hand-Knot. The technique of this weave allows me to express my creativity in the easiest way possible. There is a freedom when weaving a Hand-Knot rug.
Beyond Hand-Knot rugs, I also really admire the vintage rugs from the Ait Ouaouzguite tribe.
Unlike the more modern rugs, all the older pieces use natural dyes and utilize symbolic design motifs. I appreciate the symbolic meaning woven into all the vintage pieces.
What rug do you cherish the most?
In 1981 I was mesmerized by a book that my cousin brought home from his primary school. The book had pictures of all these animals from our region and beyond.
I would spend my days waiting for him to come home from school so that I could use the animals in the book for a rug design.
I used the rug in my home for decades before I decided to sell the rug.
Since selling the rug, I have worked with my fellow colleagues to adapt the rug into a customizable runner.
What do you love to do beyond weaving?
I love traveling around the country and discovering new landscapes and meeting new people. My daughter and grandchildren live in Agadir which is on the coast of Morocco and I love visiting her and spending time at their home.
I also love to cook and have family and friends over to my home.
My philosophy in life is to live in the present and enjoy everything around you
Thanks so much for the inspiring convo, Zahara! Shop pieces woven by Zahara and her colleagues below!
Translated by Abdellatif Mouhsine. Please note that some answers may have been edited or condensed for the sake of clarity.