6 / 2001

Morocco * Man's babouche with embroidered velvet upper and leather sole

Already around the 10th century AD Jewish settlers started the tanning industry in the northern cities of Fez and Marrakech. Under the influence of fugitives from Kairouan (Tunisia) and the domination of Arabic rulers under Persian influence, it reached unparalleled heights in the Mediterranean region. The many rivers and streams in the area as well as the abundant presence of game in surrounding mountains and the breeding of cattle by local farmers provided the necessary ingredients for this success. Even today Moroccan leather products are well known throughout the world. The above shoe is called 'chrabil' in Arabic but is also known in French as 'babouche', which is derived from the Persian words 'ba-boudj' or foot-cover. The back is folded, so the shoe can be easily removed before entering a mosque.

Research and text by : W.A.H.M. Habraken-Oosterhout-Holland
Illustration by : Colin Ball - Waalwijk - Holland