The crate is here

The crate from Marrakech  has arrived. It came in the afternoon in a very unromantic  OCS white van. The crate was damaged and opened. In the top was a mysterious animal skin bag and I feared some of my shipment had been nicked.

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I gingerly unpacked to find everything there but when I came to unwrap the very last piece it was shattered. It was the bol sur pied.


But I had all the sets of plates

on stove

And the tagine pot, a proper one which sits on the fire on top of the stove and ought not go in the oven. So with trepidation, now or never, I cooked a beef tagine hoping that I had properly understood how to use it.

on stove open

By the end of the cooking the tagine pot and I had made friends, we understood each other and worked together

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With the aid of cheap red wine and my Fes bowls from two decades ago we had supper. That little candlestick to the left of the bottle, that is the gift that warms the deal and makes the connection between the seller and the customer.


This is where I bought them and that is Mourad who fell for this green Tamgroute pottery and has filled his shop in the souk in Marrakech with it. He is adding up how much money he wants.


Tamgroute is on the edge of the Sahara, the glaze is an ancient Berber recipe known to seven families of potters  Tamgroute pots are crudely made, full of lumps and bumps, it wobbles atrociously, the glazes come out differently from plate to plate, there is little control of the process


The sun dries the clay ready to work


There are plenty of kiln deaths

Not to mention the transport deaths

But the result, the difference it makes to use things made by hand, things with another life embedded in them, somehow that elevates the mundane task of cooking and eating.  It has a  feel good factor which pushes out the mean bits of living which makes the  indulgence of time and money to acquire it really worthwhile.

Their perfection lies in their imperfection, if you understand that you understand what handmade is about.

11 thoughts on “The crate is here

  1. 03fifi says:

    Thank you for all your comments. We visited this shop about an hour ago and loved the pottery and the gentleman was so helpful. We are going back now to order things to be shipped back to Australia..I have not seen this type of pottery anywhere else in the world only Morocco. It is stunning.

  2. daphne van de Velde says:

    Hi dixie,

    I want to order a crate too from mourad. I bought only a litle tajine in his shop last year, and it is a pity that I didn’t have enough money to buy more when I was in his shop. I live in Holland. Do you know what the shipping costs are from marakesh for you? And what was the price you paid mourad for the stuff? I like to order 3 pieces of all the different dishes.

    Thank you in advance for the information!

  3. Nicole says:

    Hi Dixie, what a stunning set of plates you have! And probably great memories to go with it. My fiance and I are headed to Morocco soon, and I’m wondering if you can give me some idea of the cost of the pottery (before shipping–I plan to try to get most of it in our carry-on). Can you give a rough comparison of the cost of pieces that you buy in the village of Tamegroute vs. purchasing it in Marrakesh? I’ve looked online and can’t find even approximate prices for either place. Thanks very much!

  4. Simon Taylor says:

    Fabulous green but you say the glaze is an ancient Berber recipe and judging by this video
    the pots are made in a relatively unsophisticated environment. As a potter who has used low-fired green glazes in the past, this rings warning bells with me. The chances are the Tamegroute potters used a lead glaze in combination with copper to produce the green colour. Depending on the form of lead used, if the ware is used with certain foods the lead could be leached out with obvious consequences. Do you know if Mourad has had it tested for lead release?

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Simon, thank you for the warning.

      I think I am pretty much lead saturated already. I lived for years in a house with lead pipes, have regularly stripped lead paint with a blowtorch, and filled my lungs since birth with London traffic This pottery does my soul so much good that a little light leading is fine with me

      But I promise I won’t store food in it, will not put it in a microwave or dishwasher and will not use it for children.

  5. heather says:

    I’m still curious about the mysterious skin bag, was it the equivalent of bubble wrap? I totally understand who the perfection lies in the imperfection, though I usually like to think of those quirks as irregularities rather than imperfections. It’s amazing to see the clay spread out on the ground like that, thank you for sharing those pics. It’s easy to forget not everyone lives like we do.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      No it was a large handbag which I thought was probably part of someone else’s shipment. It wasn’t wrapped and I guess it was the result of some hasty rifling activity but who knows?
      Yes irregularities is a better description.

      • heather says:

        interesting! I liked the candlestick too, very warming! I think I have seen “imperfections” too often in descriptions, it makes me feel the seller is apologising rather than celebrating – although clearly *you* are celebrating the individuality.

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