The Jamai Palace was built in 1882 by Mokhtar bin Larbi Jamai, the grand vizier of the sultan Moulay Hassan I, according to an inscription in the reception hall. The French bought it in 1912, and they converted it successively into a hospital, a military court, and in 1920, into the “Museum of Indigenous Arts”, devoted to the handicrafts of Meknes and the surrounding mountainous Middle Atlas and Rif regions. Inspired by Spanish-Maghrebi design and decoration, Dar Jamai was created to meet the needs of private and public life.
On the ground floor, three rooms dedicated to ceramics from Fez and Tafilalet, ceramics from Meknes-Fez and painted and sculpted wood lead to the central patio. Two rooms formerly reserved for women also open onto the patio; one is dedicated to costumes and embroidery, the other to urban and rural jewellery.
The vizier’s private Moorish bath displays hammam objects such as wooden buckets, small brass containers, woolen gloves, and the like.
The room of old ironwork includes panels with keys, padlocks, knockers, chandeliers, locks, and a complete set of blacksmithing tools.
Pottery from the Rif region, Zarhoun pottery and metalwork are displayed in the former kitchens, while pavilions and corridors are decorated with various small carpets and manuscripts.
The textile room has two looms, tapestries and blankets.
Upstairs, the bride’s room and the koubba, where the vizier received his distinguished guests – a sumptuous cupola decorated with terracotta tiles and stucco – is covered by a painted and carved cedar ceiling. This ceremonial salon with alcoves is furnished in the Makhzen tradition: brass, Rabat carpets, sofas, embroidered silks from Meknes, Rabat and Salé, velvets embroidered in gold, leather cushions, mosquito nets, and more.
The last room is devoted to weapons from the Rif, Souss and Tafilalet regions of Morocco.
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