Amazigh Arts in Morocco
Women Shaping Berber Identity
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Texas Press
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A Note on Transcription and Transliteration
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The Ait Atta, the focus of this book, speak an Amazigh language called Tama-zight, found in the Middle Atlas Mountains and the southeastern region of Morocco. The term ‘‘Tamazight’’ is also used more generally by scholars to refer to a group of closely related Afro-Asiatic languages spoken throughout northwestern Africa. In this book the term ‘‘Tamazight’’ refers both to the...
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This book was a communal endeavor that involved numerous people, including my family in Morocco: Mama Lhacen and her children Zohra, Brahim, Fatima, Erqia, Ali, and Khira Ouadderrou. Brahim’s wife, Khadija, and their children Najat, Nora, Seham, Muhammad, and Hamza further enriched my life in Morocco. Ali’s wife, Fatima, and their children Hamid and Hassan as...
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When I first arrived in Morocco in 1993 with the intention of learning about Berber art, I soon discovered that women rather than men were the artists in Berber societies. Berber women wove brightly colored carpets. They decorated their faces with tattoos, dyed their hands and feet with henna, and painted their faces with saﬀron.They also embroidered brightly colored motifs on their...
ONE: Ait Khabbash Textiles: Weaving Metaphors of Identity
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A commonality among Amazigh art across Morocco is the predominant place of textiles. Amazigh women are renowned for the brightly colored carpets, blankets, and clothing that they weave from goat, sheep, and camel wool, and Ait Khabbash women are no exception. In addition to the functionality of these...
TWO: The Art of Dressing the Body
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Ait Khabbash gender roles are conveyed by more than just the color and design of their woven textiles. Women also use dress, which includes body painting, tattooing, jewelry, hairdos, and headgear (both in the way it is worn and in its design), to convey their gender identity.1 It is through...
THREE: Dance Performances: Negotiating Gender and Social Change
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Another important art form of the Ait Khabbash is aḥidous, a collective performance at weddings and other celebrations that incorporates oral poetry. Although aḥidous performances are common to many Amazigh groups in central and southern Morocco, each group has its particular...
FOUR: Women as Public Symbols of Identity: The Adornment of the Bride and Groom
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Ait Khabbash women celebrate weddings with a fervor that matches the scorching heat of the summer wedding season. They spend hours sitting with the bride in a tent constructed specifically for the occasion and for three days chant songs, beat drums, and dance, re-creating the marriage ceremony passed down from...
FIVE: Performing Amazigh Gender Roles: Wedding Ceremonies
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As a complement to the discussion of the wedding preparations in the previous chapter, this chapter concentrates on the events that occur during the actual three-day wedding ceremony. Ait Khabbash weddings are not religious ceremonies. In order to marry officially, the bride and groom sign marriage papers at the local...
SIX: Oh, My Sudanese Mother: The Legacy of Slavery in Ait Khabbash Art
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As earlier chapters have shown, Ait Khabbash arts have been shaped by historical changes and contact with other cultures. One such influence not yet discussed has been their participation in the trans- Saharan slave trade. From as early as the ninth century, human beings from Sudanic Africa were forcefully enslaved and brought into North Africa by the...
SEVEN: Contemporary Amazigh Arts: Giving Material Form to Amazigh Consciousness
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Amazigh arts in many areas of Morocco have drastically changed since Moroccan independence from French colonization in 1956. As discussed earlier, by the 1960s the majority of Ait Khabbash had abandoned their nomadic lifestyles, settling in towns where Arabic is widely spoken. The result was a dramatic change in Amazigh women’s lives and the...
APPENDIX: Selected Songs from Ait Khabbash Weddings
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Page Count: 239
Illustrations: 82 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2006