„Were the people here shorter in the past?“ I asked Mehdi, the manager of our Riad in Marrakesh. For the last couple of days, he had reminded me to duck my head whenever I entered the building through the front door – one of those beautiful old Moroccan doors you see in Marrakech a lot when strolling through the Medina. It was way too small, only reaching up to my shoulders. So every single time Mehdi opened the door for me, he held his hand to the edge and reminded me not to hit my head.
He laughed: „No, they were regular-sized. That’s to make sure we stay humble. By ducking your head, you show respect to the owner of the house“.
For the first time, I really looked at our door. It was made of dark wood and actually had a door within the door. The one we used was cut out of a bigger door, which can probably be opened if the owners buy a new couch or such.
Mehdi then pointed at two door knockers mounted to the outside of the Moroccan doors. „This one is for the ladies, this one is for the gentlemen. They make a different sound, so if only men are at home, they aren’t allowed to open the door for a lady. Well, it used to be like that a long time ago. You can use both door knockers now.“
I was fascinated and spent our time in Morocco looking for beautiful variations of this traditional design of Moroccan doors. While the double door system has become rare, many entrances are still much smaller than you would expect.
Taking pictures of Moroccan doors, I was approached by the friendliest people, always offering help or directions, wondering what I was doing there. People stopped their motorbikes, so they would not drive into my pictures and children offered to pose in front of the doors.
At the end of our trip I was sure: One part of the Moroccan friendliness must be based on being reminded to stay humble whenever you go through a door. By bowing in front of the person inviting me into their home I could show gratefulness without saying a word, while the home owner could hold his hand over my head as protection while inviting me in. Two simple gestures that show respect for each other and make sure we greet each other in the friendliest manner.
So… do you think my landlord would mind if I cut a door into my door?
© All photos via Journey to Design