A fascinating bit of insight into the intricate and historical folklore of Morocco. Learn about their dances, music and more.Moroccan Folklore is extremely diverse and equally fascinating. Even to say that it is diverse would be a massive understatement. The folklore varies in different areas, amongst different tribes and even from one language to another. The folklore traditions are as plentiful as the people themselves.
The dance originates from the High Atlas and Ouarzazate areas. Woman in colorful dresses stand motionless around a group of men sitting around a fire. The men each have “bendir’s”. A “bendir” is a circular piece of wood with a hide stretched over it. The sombre silence is broken by a piercing cry and the men begin to beat their drums and the woman sway slowly from side to side. Their speed of their swaying and the playing of the drums increase until the grand finale.
This ballet-like dance is set to ancient Middle Eastern music. The ‘orchestra’ comprises a single-stringed fiddle and a number of 3 stringed, turtle-shell mandolins. These are played whilst another person keeps beat with a piece of iron hit on the ground. The dancers wear colorful kaftans, a silk belt and a colorful spangled cord wrapped around their head. It’s a simple dance with only a few steps, but as the couples alternate their steps in unison, it creates a wonderfully intricate spectacle.
The Ait Atta
Similar to the Awash dance in certain ways, this dance marks the end of the working season. As the cold creeps over the mountains the workers get ready to put their tools down and prepare for a season of relaxation. A row of women face a row of men and dance with gestures from which it is clear to see their enthusiasm and happiness to be finished with their work for the season.
The Ait Bodar
Ancient warriors placed much importance on the warriors fighting as one: creating an unbreakable line of defense to ensure their victory. This dance encompasses this belief. A row of men wearing white gandoras link into each others’ arms and chant their song whilst perpetually moving forwards and backwards as one unit.
A single, 7-holed flute is the only instrument used in this dance. Combined with the stamping of feet and the clapping of hands it creates an mesmerizing effect. The dancing men are incredibly disciplined and precise.
Performed entirely on horseback, this dance is an amazing and dazzling sight. A procession on woman on horseback begins the proceedings. Behind them men, wearing their individual tribe’s emblem and riding in order of rank in the tribe, ride in an organized procession. As soon as this procession is complete the real Fantasia begins: The Aid el Broud (Festival of Gunpowder). Intense gun-fire and bursts of gunshots pierce through the night. Horsemen, in a somewhat organized chaos, ride in their ranks all the while shouting and shooting until the grand finale when everything breaks loose with maddened gun-fire from their “moukhahla” rifles. It’s a spectacle bar none
Varies from one part of Morocco to the other. It is also known as Moroccan Floklore. Moroccan Folklore dance is basicly a celebration of life and tradition. I am a native moroccan and I still stand spellbounded by the beauty, the history, the meaning and the symbolism that Moroccan dance unfolds. Take for example AHOUASH or Ahwach which is Performed by women only during special occasions and other dance festivals like the Marrakech Folklore Festival. This originated from the valleys of the Ouarzazat area in the atlass mountains The men circle around carrying bendirs, which are sooden frames with stretched hides over them. The men play the drums and sing and the women, standing shoulder to shoulder, repeat after them while they dance. they move altogether in rhythm with the tempo. they start slowly and get faster with the beat.Moroccan folklore is always a community dance that reinforces the community’s bond. If you ever encounter any of these dances get ready to have your eyes feast on the beautiful traditional and multicolored garments that they wear.
Famous Moroccan dances
AHIDOUS Dance: Performed by berber singers and dancers.
GUEDRA Dance: The dancer is covered in Black or blue Veil during the performance.
TISSINT: Men and women perform while covered completely in indigo-blue costumes and they also use daggers.
GNAWA: Using cymbals called krakeb, men dance to evoke ancestral saints who can drive out evil.
TASKIOUINE: A folkloric dance especially reserved for men.
AHOUACH which is Performed by women only
Moroccan clothes are traditionally rich and varied – variety of fabrics, shapes and colors expressing a certain art of draping – Moroccan costume for man or woman comes by local cultures of each region or each social group.
Two major trends emerge, namely the urban dress and country dress, in both cases the use of various devices is used to enhance the look and divert the attention of potential weaknesses of the body.
The constant among men is wearing a Djellaba which is a loose clothing. Woolen fabric or lightweight, it is equipped with long wide sleeves and a hood
Similarly, there is Silham or Burnous, solid color, black or white, borne on the Djellaba with hood.
Under Djellaba they wear the Caftan which is a long dress with no collar, long sleeves, closed at the front of many embroidered buttons.
For the head, Tarbouch as head covering for the urban and Razza for the country and Rural belgha (babouch, slippers) in both cases
Moroccan clothes for women are also diverse.
The Haik, a sort of cloak of fine cloth large and white, is the rule especially in rural areas, and in certain regions. When you leave the city, you will see increasingly rural women in the female version of the djellaba.
They usually wear the Qmis(long jacket) underneath, a lightweight fabric covering a seroual (baggy pants).
The caftan and Mansouria fabric are the usual two long dresses for women. The Moroccan kaftan or caftan is for celebration and special occasions. This dress highlights the femininity with a bonus: it combines the splendor and elegance because of the meticulous production.
Fine fabrics and brightly colored silks are the traditional fashion. The tailors put their skill and art to create the sumptuous dress.
Gold embroidery, silver, contours and ends delicately decorated, all returning a sensation of richness and femininity.
A belt embroidered with silk thread or gold (or at least among wealthy women, silver or solid gold) shakes the Caftan size.This coat, has always been a source of inspiration throughout the world.
Moroccan wedding is considered as the symbol of the continuity of the community and the basic foundation of the family unit. The marriage is celebrated in Morocco following a ceremonial with roots in ancient traditions.
The celebration of this event remains, in general, more or less the same in different regions of the Kingdom of Morocco. Certain local traditions inspired and generated by ancestral practices enrich the ritual of marriage and give it a distinctive character of a certain locality.
Indeed, the organization of a Moroccan wedding varies by region and highlights the cultural diversity that is manifested in particular by various rituals (costumes, rituals, music, culinary. traditions etc …)
These local peculiarities and authenticities are preserved and perpetuated from generation to generation. They are the cardinal virtues of cultural diversity in Morocco.
However, the ceremony of marriage has been, in parts of Morocco, changing due to a new form of urban life and the adoption of a modern lifestyle.
From a legal standpoint, marriage is enshrined in the conclusion of an “act attesting that” established by “Adoula” who act as notaries in the presence of witnesses. It is equivalent to a marriage contract and is legally binding.
Chronology of rituals
1 - Hammam
Before any Moroccan wedding a Hammam is oblicatory. It is a purifying bath taken with great ceremony by the bride in the Moorish baths, with the women close to her.
It’s a modest ceremony, similar to a shower party, with scents that smells good and the flame of candles lit for the occasion in the dark rooms of the bath, which is supposed to illuminate the path to happiness. This ritual gives rise to a range of offerings and loaded with symbolism.
2 – Henna
Henna is applied during festivals and marriages by “hannaya”,woman tattoo artist. The virtues of henna benefactors in a Moroccan wedding are supposed to protect against disease and ensure the success and prosperity.
The henna ceremony or “Henna” is held the day before the big day in the presence of women in both families and friends.
The bride is veiled and dressed in a green caftan and “Hanaya” tattoos on her hands and feet some very attractive designs. This ceremony symbolizes the passage to the status of wife.
The Moroccan customs of h’dia exist in all social classes. On this occasion the groom gives all sorts of gifts such as clothes and jewelry, even sugar, to the bride depending on social conditions and specific region.
Every Moroccan wedding is bound to its region which dictates the details.
But generally these are highly symbolic, such as sugar, symbol of a happy life, milk, symbol of clarity and purity, dates, henna, candles, flowers, etc. …
4 - Berza
The “berza” which takes place the day of the grand ceremony is an opportunity to present the bride to the guests. Adorned with a traditional dress of ceremony, the bride is installed so as to be seen and admired by the entire audience in a festive atmosphere full of sound and color.
In Morocco, more than elsewhere, marriage is seen on the dual, social and religious, as an act of great importance. It is carefully prepared as a major family event, celebrated as a joyful celebration, which also join the families of both spouses and unite in sealed fate, their relatives, friends and neighbors.
Any Moroccan wedding continues for several days, in a spirit of solidarity that gives the full measure of community spirit still alive in more rural than urban areas due to the nature of life in the countryside.
The party is generally the same throughout the kingdom, the cost of the celebration vary from one region to another, in terms of local traditions, the purpose being, as appropriate, to insist, to consolidate or to confer even more luster to this or that aspect of the festival.
Basically, the storyline is the same in northern Morocco as its extreme south, east and west.
Embroidery therein provides a distinctive observation of each region and its own cachet. Everything goes into effect, in each region of the country, taking a show off of their special contribution to highlight the talent and skill of their men and women and exercise the care with which they surround this grand ceremony and the quasi-religious respect for the rules governing its conduct.
Each region wants, through its Moroccan food, local roots, a unique embroidery for the dress which happens to be ultimately a common task.
Each region strives to shine a thousand lights during their Moroccan wedding, but its very distinctive signals is only indicative of the diversity of our Moroccan culture in the cohesion of our contrasts in harmony, in our diversity and uniqueness of our individuality in the whole.