The Thuya Wood in Morocco

THUYA BERBER

The cedar that is quite common in Morocco is a endemic variety of North Africa that we also meet a little in the south of Spain. It is content with fairly calcareous soils and limited water intake. It is a very different species of shrub that is used in Europe, mainly in ornamental hedges. Thuya is a tree from fairly distant geological times, some traces of which have been identified in the tertiary era.

The thuya is widely present throughout Morocco but it is also part of a kind of green belt that surrounds Essaouira and is a real forest mixing argan trees, thuyas, mimosas, etc ...

Its growth being very slow, cedar trees reach ten to twelve meters in height only after 100 or 150 years. It turns out, unfortunately, that few trees reach such a size and what we can admire today is rather a low forest clear enough, closer to the characteristics of the maquis.

THE USES OF THUYA

One of the first jobs of the cedar was for the construction of the ceilings of beautiful homes or mosques, as can still be seen in traditional houses, and also as can be found in some of the rooms from Dar Liouba.

Then cedar was used for the manufacture of chests, boxes, furniture, which could be left in the natural state, varnished or painted.

At the end of the 19th century, a few marchers from Salé joined Essaouira, bringing with them their centuries-old traditions of marquetry and incrustations of motifs, most often geometric in ivory or ebony for the oldest, in mother-of-pearl, sometimes in yarns. money and now more commonly in lemon wood.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a French cabinetmaker developed the use of the thuya loupe and it is therefore this part of the tree that is now the most popular. Thuya craftsmanship then experienced a real boom allowing about 6,000 people to live this activity in the region of Essaouira. 

WHAT IS THUYA'S MAGNIFIER?

The magnifying glass is not a disease but a reaction of the tree that can be caused by different external elements. The tree then produces a kind of growth consisting of small knots and shoots. It is a singularity of nature that has never been fully explained, as some trees in the same region are more conducive to producing than others. The rarity of the cedar magnifier explains both its price and also that this natural resource has been overexploited.

Unfortunately, there is today a growing scarcity of this raw material causing serious problems of supply and price for all the small artisans of the medina who work this magnifying cedar.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a French cabinetmaker developed the use of the thuya loupe and it is therefore this part of the tree that is now the most popular. Thuya craftsmanship then experienced a real boom allowing about 6,000 people to live this activity in the region of Essaouira.

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