Chelliga (Morocco)

Chelliga from Sale, Morocco. Silk on linen. 18th century (?). Chelliga from Sale, Morocco. Silk on linen. 18th century (?).

Many embroidery designs in North Africa and the Middle East are passed down from one generation to another by copying older pieces of embroidery. However, it was not uncommon for girls and women in Morocco to decorate cloth with various forms of designs and stitches, and at first glance these pieces of decorated cloth seem comparable to European samplers.

Examples of chelliga or Moroccan samplers date from the eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries onwards (Stone 1985:68). They include a wide range of colours, designs and stitches. The designs are normally set out in a formal, linear arrangement, as they were generally produced by embroidery apprentices to show the range and quality of their work to their teachers, parents and family, as well as potential customers (Denamur 2003:24). Rather than acting as a memory aid, a girl’s chelliga should be regarded as a certificate or diploma that guarantees the skills of both teacher and student. Unlike European samplers, chelliga do not normally include the name of the worker or a date.


  • DENAMUR, Isabelle (2003). Moroccan Textile Embroidery, Paris: Flammarion.
  • STONE, Caroline (1985). The Embroideries of North Africa, London and New York: Longman.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 17 June 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 17 April 2017 10:48