Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Foum Zguid to Tamagroute and the Pottery

We had been waiting for the Foum Zguid - Zagora road to be metalled to make this trip. When we said this to the hotel owner in Foum he said "Well it's finished in that it's metalled it's just that the bridges aren't built." The western half has not got its bridges yet so at every small stream  where a bridge is to go there is a deviation, they are frequent and some are lengthy. The eastern half is finished bridges and all and the trouble here is keeping to the 100kmh speed limit on a long straight road with not another vehicle in sight. They are sneaky the traffic cops though and passing one junction we saw one hapless driver being ticketed. Long straight roads with no other vehicles in sight are a gift for speed guns.
Although we stayed in Zagora we spent the afternoon in Tamagroute. I think the library there would be my spiritual home if they would let me stay. (It's a Sufi zaouaia so you would have, at the least, to be a practising muslim, and I think  these days you have to have permission from the government, as one of our friends turned up without and wasn't let to use it.)
I had been anxious to show Sweetheart the pottery as she has a professional interest in furnaces and the potters use the traditional furnaces built into the bank

rather than the modern gas-fired kilns which are left to rot.

The guide was telling us with relish how these traditional methods "wholly natural"  allowed the firing at "3000 degrees". Sweetheart started to look somewhat less than entirely credulous.
Apparently even 3000F is 1650C and you can't fire pottery at that temperature. It would deform as much of the content would enter an "amorphous phase" (like glass); nor could you achieve those temperatures using  wood shavings and palm-leaves as fuel (the" wholly natural" method).

 She reckons they are being fired between 1000C and 1200C. I'd back her to know about furnaces anyday but it does remove some of the romance.
Similarly the guide made great play of using manganese to make their signature green dye. "Manganese with copper and silica". "There" she pounced, "silica melts at 1600C". She reckons the green colour is because of the copper, which is what you'd expect but manganese seems more exotic.

Anyway I believed him when he said that the surface mud can be used only to build bricks for houses (low temperature baked in Sweetheart's word, sun dried in mine) and that to make pottery you have to dig from 6ft below the surface. (This illustrates some of the confusion; why was the guide using an imperial measure?)
We were taken to the shop but did not wish to buy anything which was sad as unknown to the others I had commandeered the visit with the sole purpose of buying something I had regretted not purchasing on my visit last year. £ shops later i found it. I don't particularly like the green glaze so characteristic of Tamagoute so I bought it in Turquoise and it is now very happily placed in my morning room.

 Sweetheart did buy a small green ashtray as a present.

No comments:

Post a Comment