Expo Update- Morroco- pots, plaster, and spices
The virtual expo tour starts with my favorite pavilion- Morocco. For the geographically challenged reader (like myself) I included a map of Northern Africa. Morocco is located at the north west tip and forms one boundary of the straits of Gibraltar. It is a cultural bridge between Europe and African, much in the same way Turkey bridges Europe to the middle east. For a brief history of Morocco's varied political past click here.
After walking around sweaty for many hours the Moroccan pavilion is an expo oasis. As I walked past the chandelier hanging in the entry way, I noticed that almost all surfaces in the pavilion were covered with pattern. Stamped plaster, ceramic tile, and carved wood adorn every ceiling, floor, and doorway. The pavilion is built around a courtyard that rises through the four story structure. This allows you to see the central fountain as you walk to the ascending levels.
The first floor is composed of small exhibits of metal smithing, weaving, and other craft forms. Most pavilions choose to highlight new technology that is virtual based (videos, multimedia interactive exhibits, etc). Morocco choose to highlight the excellent craftsmanship of its traditional artisans. I am really impressed by this decision. It provides a sharp contrast to the Vegas style most other pavilions. I am sad to report that there was no line at the Moroccan pavilion. I hope this means it was an off night and not an indication that the masses don't appreciate old world craftsmanship.
The second floor was filled with rooms dedicated to individual craft forms. The metal smithing room had the feeling of a 16th century palace with its large area rugs and bronze tea wares. They had a gilded saddle in the middle of the room, which is a great reference to their equine history. The weaving area was divided into two parts- one for each style of loom. One room for the vertical looms that are used to make brightly colored flat rugs. One room for the horizontal looms that are used to make thicker pile rugs. (Click here for a post by AtheneEnglish.com about Morrocan rugs) I thought it was great that they included the looms in the exhibit. Many people have no idea how objects are made. Non-makers are totally disconnected from the means of production even if they are enamored with the object. The looms are a great chance so show a product and the machine that is responsible for making it. The pottery room was arranged nicely but was a let down. The pots were cheap imitations that didn't fit in with the quality or aged character of the other crafts. I'm not sure anyone but a potter would notice this because the patterns and colors on the pots are beautiful.
The most surprising moment was entering the spice room. Baskets of rosemary, thyme, and other aromatic herbs line the floor of this 10 by 10 ft room. The smell was powerful. Experiencing it made me realize that smell is the most underestimated teaching tool with natural history exhibits. As soon as I smelled the spices I could imagine an outdoor market in Morocco. The first and second floors were so great that I can't remember what was on the third. The four floor was off limits to regular visitors but I assume it holds a vip lounge. Most pavilions double as a way to entertain dignitaries and businessmen
I took many pictures that I will upload to my Flickr account at some point. Ill post the link when they are up.