The presence of Jews in a number of Moroccan cities, kasbahs and oases had an influence that continues to this day, especially with regard to handicrafts such as blacksmithing, carpentry….
Tinger and Qalaa are made up of cities that knew the presence of Jews for decades, and their sons learned the craft from them. They inhabited the qasabas and neighborhoods of the city that was called “the Mellah,” and after they left it, the remnants of those industries remained through the wooden doors and iron pieces, and the first generation learned the basics of the craft, especially the “dagger.”
Its secret was inherited by the people of Tinghir and Qalaat M’Gouna, the manufacture of daggers, consisting of an iron part and a wooden handle carved from apricot, cedar, or camel bone… in addition to a scabbard that is decorated with silver, and carried by a sling of a garment studded with luban…
Years later, this craft disappeared from Tinghir, while the castle of M’Gouna remained steadfast, which preserved more of this craft, and was known as the Azlak roundabout, located on the main road leading to Tinghir.
An unpaved road leads you to the shop that bears the same name, “Azlak”. It is the headquarters of the “Azlak Dagger Association” cooperative, which was founded by a group of craftsmen in 1983. They work inside it, being artistic and creative in its shapes with their fingertips.
They are resisting its disappearance and are trying to teach the younger generation some of its ABCs so that they become proficient in the craft, so that it is not lost like a group of crafts was lost with the death of “teachers.”
The dagger industry has survived for decades and is still steadfast in the face of change. Modern technology has not been able to obscure this craft, thanks to the resistance of its makers despite their lack of ability to survive and withstand the face of time.
It reflects mastery and beauty and has become an ancient and renewed heritage thanks to some improvements made by the craftsmen to their industry. The dagger, in addition to roses, became a feature of the small city, and a model of the dagger was erected inside it in addition to an embodiment of roses.
Each dagger may express its roots, either Arab, Berber, or Jewish, due to the Jews’ practice of the craft decades ago in the Dades Basin before their departure from it.
Therefore, the region’s industrialists decided to unite in the cooperative in order to put hand in hand and preserve an ancient heritage that they inherited from their ancestors since 1965.
They were creative in its manufacture by inserting some decorations and creating creativity in it, to protect it from disappearing, especially since the families living in the Azlak roundabout joined forces to practice this craft, which some “teachers” confirm that they learned from their fathers and are now teaching their children so that it does not disappear.
It is a heirloom that is passed down from generation to generation, especially the old types that are distinguished by their value and originality. Ait Azlak realized the cultural importance of the dagger, so they were creative in making it. It carries a symbolic load that is closely associated with the white djellaba “Aqrab” and the white turban that distinguishes the Amalgamian man.
Each family was keen to establish a workshop within its home in which the “teacher” was the father and the learners were the children, who accompanied their father in their free time to watch him work, until many of them found themselves familiar with the “craft.”
The dagger was passed smoothly between the generations, but the change in time and the lack of interest of the children in buying the dagger made the craftsmen in Ait Azlak think about creating a cooperative, so that the doors of the craft remain open to the third generation, at a time when it was noted that the demand for it was declining locally, so it was necessary to expand the marketing circle. In the direction of other cities.
The “Azlak” cooperative’s primary goal is to preserve the heritage, which is estimated to be about 6 centuries old, and has spread over time with successive generations, but the fear of its extinction prompted the craftsmen to unite, form a cooperative, and make every effort to introduce the craft so that it does not disappear.