The Jamai palace was built in 1882 by Mokhtar ben Larbi Jamai, grand vizier of Sultan Moulay Hassan I, as evidenced by an inscription in the reception room. The French bought it in 1912 and turned into a building with several successive functions; a hospital, a military court and then, in 1920, a “Museum of Indigenous Arts” devoted to the crafts of Meknes and the surrounding mountainous region of the Middle Atlas and the Rif. The building consists of a Hispano-Maghreb aesthetic and was designed to meet the needs of both a private and a public life.
Artefacts on display
The exhibition halls are as follows:
On the ground floor there are three rooms. One is devoted to the ceramics of Fez and Tafilalet, the other to the ceramics of Meknès-Fes and a room showcasing painted and carved woods which leads to the central patio, on which open two rooms that were formerly reserved for women. One of these rooms is devoted to costumes and embroidery, the other to urban and rural jewellery.
The private Moorish bath of the vizier exhibits various related objects such as wooden buckets, small yellow copper containers and woollen gloves amongst other items.
The old ironwork room houses panels filled with keys, padlocks, knockers, chandeliers, locks and a complete collection of blacksmith's paraphernalia.
The pottery of the towns of Rifaine and Zarhoun as well as brassware occupy the old kitchens, while pavilions and corridors are decorated with various miniature carpets and manuscripts.
Finally, the room reserved for the textile exposes two looms, draperies and blankets.
The upper floor contains the bride's room and the koubba where the vizier received his distinguished guests. A sumptuous cupola decorated with zelliges and stucco is covered by a painted and carved cedar ceiling.
This ceremonial salon, with its alcoves, is furnished in the Makhzen tradition containing: brass and several groups of textiles and furnishings. These include; rugs, sofas, embroidered silks from Meknes, Rabat and Salé, gold embroidered velvets, leather cushions and mosquito nets.
The last room is reserved for the arms of Rif, Souss and Tafilalet.
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