Tanning is the process of treating skins of animals to produce leather, which is more durable and less susceptible to decomposition.
Workers in the Tanneries of Marrakech tan the skin with urine and pigeon shit and let the leather dry in the roofs, dealing with a foul smell that sticks to their skin.
The complete process of tanning is deeply symbolic: the first step of the tanning process, where the skins are fermented in a solution for five days, is where the skin eats, drinks and sleeps before being ‘reborn’ from the water. When the skin is treated with a pigeon poo solution, it is said to receive nafs, a spirit that begins the process of rebirth. Finally, it is in the final stage of the tanning process, where the hide is stretched and smoothed over coarse ropes, that the skin is reborn into leather.