Ethnistory is a new concept for discovering the heart of a country – whether staying there on holiday or living there in retirement. That country is Morocco and southern Morocco in particular, a region that extends from the desert border to the interior.
The concept of "Ethnistory" is the brainchild of Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières, two Mediterranean enthusiasts who settled in Taroudant, Morocco in 1998 after working their way along the Mediterranean coast (France, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and the Yemen). Their work builds on a thoughtful, "holistic" approach to Mediterranean living that is the defining mark of every project they have undertaken. It's present in their garden designs (including many public gardens); in their study of rustic pottery (which in 2002 led to the opening of the
Mediterranean Pottery Museum in Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, Gard department); in their collection of handcrafted textiles (acquired in 2008 by the Musée Bargoin in Clermont Ferrand, Puy-de-Dôme department); and in their rammed-earth buildings (starting in 2002 with a house in Taroudant, commissioned by the former empress of Iran, Farah Pahlavi). Eric and Arnaud’s achievements have been feted in international print and broadcast media, cited in reference works and celebrated in large-scale exhibitions in major museums.
THE CREATION OF A LOCAL SKILLS NETWORK
As a holistic development project, Ethnistory promotes the pooling of local expertise – the creation of a local "skills network", supervised by Eric and Arnaud, in which everyone gets a fair reward for their efforts. Whether craftsman, guide or woman weaver, everyone shares the credit – and the profits.
It has taken Eric and Arnaud nearly fifteen years to get the Ethnistory concept off the ground. Fifteen experience-packed years – making new contacts, learning new trades, building confidence, building success. The reward for that commitment today is a solid network of skilled, reliable workers who put a job well done before ambition.
And on that note, it is time now to meet the Ethnistory team.
Ali Mahdine and Abdeslam Sadek are the project managers in charge of building Ossart & Maurières’ rammed-earth houses. They are ably assisted by a team of master craftsmen, aiming for a result that blends the traditional with the modern.
Christine Alléon, in Agadir, and Sadek Tazzi, in Marrakech, are the two dedicated horticulturalists who supply the plants for our gardens – each plant specially adapted to withstand the arid conditions in southern Morocco.
Lahcen Aït Khouya is our driver and desert guide. He speaks Berber, Moroccan Arabic, French, English and Spanish – but mainly he speaks from his heart. He is a son of the desert and most particularly HIS OWN desert – you could ask for no better guide to this place.
Touda Boumrour and her daughters welcome visitors to their home in Merzouga – unforgettable hospitality, with tasty, traditional food to match. They also weave many of the carpets that hang in our rammed-earth houses.
For more information, or to view the programmes featuring Ossart & Maurières’s designs, visit their site www.maurieres-ossart.com