There weren’t many reviews for this place when I was searching before our April trip to Morocco (although I now see a flood of them here), but I knew enough about the Azlag Dagger Co-operative from my research to know that this was one place I was definitely going to seek out - being something of a sword and dagger collector.
It’s an easy place to find, on the main road in Kalaat M’Gouna, and it’s laid out with a large showroom in the front, and a series of small workshops in a U-shape around the sides and back of the property. I found the workshops generally quiet when we arrived – about half of them were closed, and there wasn’t much activity in the ones that were open, but the showroom is nothing short of amazing.
What happens here is that the individual workshops make their specific pieces, and put them in the showroom with a numerical tag to identify the maker (so they know who to give the sale proceeds to). The showroom guy told me that the craftsmen only sell through the showroom, so, apart from making some small talk with the artisans, it really doesn’t matter whether the individual workshops are open, closed or half asleep.
I was astounded by the quantity and range of daggers in the showroom – I wasn’t expecting to see so many, and so many different styles. You have Touareg (Nomad) and Berber styles, some curved and some straight, some ornate and some relatively plain, some with bone handles, some with carved wood, and so on. Quality is a given here – these are all handmade pieces by master craftsmen, and the quality of the finished pieces is incredible. Nothing like the crap you'll find in any market in Morocco or throughout the Middle East.
The other big surprise is the prices. I had to look twice to make sure I wasn’t imagining that the most expensive pieces were actually only around $80 USD. I spent at least an hour in that showroom, scouring the rails and starting with a shortlist of 12 daggers that I narrowed down to 6, plus a sword. The sword was comparatively expensive at $220 USD (but still cheap in my opinion), and then only because it was a full sized ceremonial silver and bone-handled piece of exceptional beauty. There are few swords here and they seem to sell pretty quickly – I was told about an amazing Touareg sword that had been sold just the day before…
If daggers (and swords) are your thing, then this place is pure paradise. Oh, and by the way, we had no hassle at customs taking these out of the country.
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