Carpet weaving in Morocco is, at present, a marginal business, with middlemen taking most of the profits. We, the weavers of Anzal, formed a non-profit association, Jemaia Tifawin (Association of Lights), in 2007, to organize the selling of carpets in Anzal so that we might receive the profits of sales directly. Our Association’s main purpose is to function as an exchange of information and effort so that weavers are not forced to undersell their products to the owners of retail establishments. An important secondary purpose is to encourage and train younger artisans, and help them learn practices that will make their efforts more profitable.
Association members each pay 400 rials – about $2.50 – per year to belong, an amount insufficient to meet our organization’s expenses, but low enough to ensure that any woman in the village can afford to belong. A small percentage of carpet sale income is used to cover our overhead and marketing costs; the rest goes directly to the weaver.
Most wool processing and weaving is done out of our homes so we are able concurrently to meet our domestic responsibilities, as none of us are full-time weavers. When we work together to jointly produce a carpet, however, the work is often done at the association’s workshop.
Our preferred way of making decisions is by consensus. We believe in cooperating with each other and we are experienced at reaching consensus, though sometimes it takes time (and many glasses of tea!) before we arrive at a decision. We hold general membership meetings when circumstances demand, and otherwise manage the affairs of the Association through the efforts of our Board of Directors. Our work together also helps to maintain relationships between households, and we are proud of our important place as members of the Anzal community.
Our weavers are much in demand by other villages in southern Morocco, where the weaving tradition has been dying out. We are called upon to come and teach our weaving techniques, and we love sharing this wonderful craft whenever we can.