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Pottery of El Hart n’Iaamine

El Hart n’Iaamine, also named El Hart n’Imziouen or El Hart n’Harratine, is a large village located 15 km east of Tinghir, on the left bank of the Oued Todra. It is known by the craft of some of its inhabitants: pottery.

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Ksar El Hart n’Iaamine.
Main entry to the Ksar

Ksar El Hart, Todra.
Street of the Ksar El Hart n’Iaamine

Legend about the founding of El Hart n’Iaamine

(following Moha Qeddi, considered in 1998 the oldest man in El Hart n’Iaamine)

People says that the first inhabitant of El Hart was a potter named Imizi, came from Tamegroute (Draa Valley) in the middle of the 18th century. This man was well received by the Ait Hemmi of Amezrou, which offered him a piece of land to build a house and a pottery workshop. But, when his children grew, the Ait Hemmi became afraid of being dominated by foreigners and expelled them from their territory.

Then the family of potters sought refuge in a place named Tinigoumaden. There, they built a house without door, which could only be accessed by climbing the wall with a rope. They acted this way for fear of a fearsome lion that was ravaging the region at that time.

Later came a brother of the potter, named Mansour, and they built a new house larger and more reinforced, and a new pottery workshop. Very hospitable, they welcomed different families who asked permission to live near them. Thus El Hart n’Imziouen (also called El Hart n’Iaamine) was born.

When the town reached thirty dwellings, started conflicts with Ait Hemmi from Amzaourou. So potters called their relatives from Tamegroute, who came to rescue them and El Hart became the most powerful Ksar in Todra valley.

Secondary entry to the Ksar El Hart.
Secondary entry to the Ksar

Pottery of El Hart.
Pottery of El Hart

Pottery of El Hart, Tinerhir.
Kneading the soil

El Hart n’Iaamine at the begin of twentieth century

In 1930, the lieutenant Beaurpère wrote about El Hart n’Iaamine:

«Great Ksar in the left bank, one of the biggest in Todgha with Tinghir; its population is divided into nine clans performing two groups.

1st – Ait Ameur: includes Ait Abdelmalek, Ait Mhand Ou Ameur, Ait el Khoukh, Ikeddaren [potters] and Ait Chaib.

2nd – Ait Mansour: includes Aït Ali Ou Said, Aït Ali, Aït Ichou and Igourramen.

At one time, the Harratine of El Hart were submitted to the sovereignty of the Ait Bou Iknifen (Ait Atta).

They are now independent like the other Imazighen of the other Ksour.

The clan Igourramen groups the Mourabitine Ait Sidi Mouloud, whose Zaouia is in the Drâa (Mezguida) and that has another branch in Ait Youl of Arba Mia, Ait Seddrat of Dadàs. These Mourabitine are 30 homes.

Mokadem: Sidi Mhamd Ben Abderrezar.

We must bring to attention the presence of a few Chorfa from Ouezzane, come to El Hart twenty years ago (...). Every year, some Harratine go to Ouezzan working the fields of the Chorfa.

El Hart n’Imziwane has two mosques. Into the biggest one, there is a great tamaris».

Pottery of El Hart, Todra.
Moulding three minerals

The pottery of El Hart

Based on the production of everyday objects, especially cooking pots, the pottery of El Hart is known for the use of a ochre natural enamel. They get it by mixing three minerals: quartz (SiO2), lead sulfide (PbS) and a clayey sandstone which contains iron oxide (Fe2O3).

Like all living arts, pottery of El Hart evolves following the time and adapts itself to the needs of the market. If they previously were especially making pots and water jars, now they produce rather Tagines, ashtrays, candlesticks and even stoves for camping gas fires.

Few years ago they also started to manufacture tiles.

Pottery of El Hart, Todra.
Resting soil

Pottery of El Hart, Todra.
Sieving the soil

Pottery of El Hart, Todra.
Kneading the soil

Pottery preparation process

El Hart pottery uses a mixture of two kinds of clay in equal proportions. The first kind comes from the banks of the Todra river and it’s quite fine with a high content of sand. The second kind is brought from a hill near the village and it should be well sifted to separate it from the stones accompanying it.

Clay are mixed in a bowl, water is added thereto and it’s put to stand for 15 minutes. Next, they take the produced sludge using a box and pass it through a sieve. After it is collected in a space that is intended for it, it’s covered with a plastic and it’s allowed to stand overnight.

The next morning they pick up the mud which has absorbed part of the water and they knead it with the feet for many time. Later it is kneaded again with their hands, just before use.

Pottery of El Hart, Todra.
Working with the wheel

Pottery of El Hart, Todra.
Working with the wheel

The wheel

The preparation of the various objects occurs by means of a wheel, located in a hole in the ground. The potter, sitting on the ground, moves it with his feet. Once ended objects, they must dry in the shade for a minimum of three days before being cooked, because the sun of Todra is too strong and likely to crack them. They are left at the sun just a moment before covering them with enamel.

Pottery wheel in El Hart (Todra)

Pottery of El Hart, Todra.
Enamel application

The enamel

To make the enamel they must first grind three minerals using a hand mill made of stone. Once transformed into powder, they are diluted in water and this mixture is gently decanted on the objects already heated at the sun. After they are put in the kiln.

Pottery of El Hart, Todra.
Le four

Pottery of El Hart, Todra.
Extraction of pieces from the kiln

The kiln

The cooking takes between 5 and 8 hours, depending of the objects. The kiln is fueled by dry bushes or by wood chips, thought its lower mouth. Into it, the objects remain separated from each other due to ceramic brackets and they are covered with old pottery waste. The potter always leaves a small object to be cooked on the old pottery; when it is cooked, he knows that those inside are also cooked and he can put out the fire. After he leaves the oven cool down a bit, he takes out the baked items and separates the brackets, which often leave visible three characteristic footprints.

Pottery kiln in El Hart (Todra)

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