Moroccan lanterns are known the world over. They exist in all imaginable shapes, colours and materials. Mostly, however, they are wrought from iron, nickel, brass or copper. Also in our climes they are to be found, in specialist shops and even in department stores. Even the smallest of lanterns, brought home from a trip to this vibrantly colourful land, can suffice as a memento. Most likely it is a way of enshrining the emotions experienced on that magical holiday, at the largest market on the African continent – the Souk in Marrakech.
As with all products, there is enormous variety in the quality of materials and craftsmanship. Prices vary accordingly, and small, iron lanterns with unsophisticated, machine-cut patterns can be obtained for a very few Euros. The most valuable lanterns are several decades old and can cost several thousand Euros. It is not so much their age that makes them so expensive, but the way in which they have been made, with exquisite patterns and wonderful marquetry.
During our most recent trip to Morocco at the end of August this year, we bought two such splendid examples for a client. Although these are not inlaid, they are consummate in their form and magnificently embellished. The delicate, scherenschnitte-style cuttings determine how the light shines onto the immediate surroundings and generates an elaborate display of light and shadow. The light emanating from the lanterns is not to help us see better as night falls, but rather to create an atmosphere of warmth and oriental exoticism.