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Moroccan for families: From the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert

For those who want to experience Berber’s life and explore the best of every things has to offer. We can get you to Berber or nomadic villagers of The Sahara and the High Atlas, Middle Atlas, or Mid-Atlas mountains, and discover their unique culture_ Spend a couple of days with them will be an unforgettable experience of lifetime. But before you book your tour, take some time to know every single thing about Moroccan Berbers below;

Imazighn or Berber (Moroccan Berber culture & Art)

The Amazigh or Berber people are generally the indigenous inhabitants of North Africa who have lived in the region for thousands of years, primarily inhabiting Morocco and Algeria. The meaning of the word "Imazighn" is the Noble Man or Free Man, and refers to everyone who speaks Tamazight or Berber language. Besides, they are highly known as "Berebe", which is an old Greek term that was given by Roman. They are also called ‘Nomads’.

In Morocco, there are many Berber tribes that vary from one region to another and each tribe, of course, with its unique traditions, costumes, and beliefs. However, Moroccan Berbers are generally characterized by their warm hospitality and generosity. They are often portrayed as friendly and light skinned people.

Historically, Berbers were known as nomadic people, crossing the desert and transporting goods by camels. They move from one place to another; seeking water, shelter and the suitable conditions for grazing. Men take care of livestock, and women look after children and handicraft in their accommodation (tents). The vast majority of today’s Berbers live in Moroccan Mountains, desert, or rural areas, living of their farm, flocks, and fruit trees, and a very few of them work as artisans and craftsmen; producing traditional handmade products such as jewelry, pottery, leatherwork ,textiles furniture, fabrics, and carpets. Small Berber populations are also found in cities; they recently move to urban areas and cities to find work.

Berber’s religion and Language

By religion, Moroccan Berbers had not a unified religion; some of them were Christians and the others were Jews or Animists, but after being conquered by Arabs, they all had become Muslims (Sunni Muslim). Furthermore, the language of Moroccan Berbers is primarily spoken in nature. That is to say, it is only used for communication and has various closely related varieties/dialects, each tribe (or region) with its own variety. However, almost all of them understood each other. Mainly, Moroccan Berbers can be divided into three groups or tribes, namely the Chleuh in the south, the Riffians in the Riff region, and the Central Moroccan Amazigh. The southern region involves the High Atlas, the Anti‐Atlas, the Souss plain, and the Sahara. The central region, on the other hand, involves a part of the High Atlas and the Middle Atlas Mountains from Azilal to Taza. Eventually, the northern region involves the Rif Mountains include Al Hoceima and Nador.

Berber mode of dress

Traditional clothing for Berber men and women in Morocco generally consists of long flowing robes that made out of harmonious colors and magnificent fabrics, and differs from one region to another within and among Moroccan Berber groups. Specifically, Berber style of dress, for men, is often blue robes called The Deraa, which is a loose Gandoura open on both sides. That in the Sahara region, but in Atlas Mountains Berber men are often characterized by their Wool Djalaba based on the extreme cold of the area. On the other hand, Berber women in Morocco commonly wear black adorned robes with hoods or headscarves called Tahruyt. This is in addition to the so-called Tabizart, which is a white or black embroidered robes made out of wool and cotton.

Morocco Berber dress
Morocco Berber style of dress
Morocco Berber Women
berber women's dress

Berber accommodation

Berbers houses are often constructed of clay, adobe, stone and brick. This is in addition to tents for nomadic Berbers, who move from one place to another. Mainly, tents made out of wool and goat hair.

Berber accommodation
Moroccan Berber house

Berber’s social structure

In terms of social structure, most of Moroccan Berbers are patriarchal. Hence, Berber woman is responsible for the services of food preparation and over children, and, from time to time, supposed to help her husband in the farm. That on one hand, Berber man, on the other hand, is considered to be the head of the family, and the controller over decision-making. However, there are some Berber families who are matriarchal in their social structure.

Berber Marriage (wedding ceremony)

In marriage, it is typically the men who select their future wife, and often the family makes the decision.

At weddings, Berber women traditionally adorn themselves with jewels Necklaces, headdresses and bracelets made of silver, coral, amber, and beads. They also decorate their hands and feet with Hanna (tattoos). For makeup, Berber women put merely a black charcoal on the eyebrows, the rouge one on the cheeks, and a little of eyeliner.

Berber marriage
moroccan berber wedding

Berber men, on the other hand, wear white Djelabba to celebrate the wedding event. Both Berber men and women perform ritual dances and music together as an act of celebration, and which differ from one region to another.

traditional moroccan wedding dresses
Berber wedding cermony

Moroccan Berber foods (Berber cuisine)

Generally, Berber foods are based on animal and agriculture productions that vary according to region and seasons. They are fresh and healthy, the main Berber foods are:

Berber Tajine: made with various vegetables, lamb or chicken and spices, and cooked in different forms.

Moroccan Tajine
Berber Tajine

Traditional Couscous: made with semolina, fresh vegetables, and natural butter. It is made in different ways.

Moroccan couscous
Berber couscous

Pastilla: is a meat pie made with pastry and Pigeon (or even Chicken).

Moroccan pastilla
Berber Pastilla

Bread: (made of natural yeast) and its derived products such as Bouchiar: made with fine wafer without yeast, and soaked in butter and natural honey.

Moroccan Bread
Berber bread

Baghrir: a pancake made with flour, yeast, salt, and soaked in butter and natural honey.

Moroccan Baghrir
Berber Baghrir
Moroccan Food Baghrir
moroccan baghrir recipe

Harira: the traditional Berber soup containing chicken or lamb, chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes onions and herbs

Moroccan Harira
Moroccan Berber Harira

By culture, sharing foods for Berbers is commonly a symbol of brotherhood, trust, benevolence, and even commitment.

Berber Music

Moroccan Berbers are noted by their extraordinary music that varies in genre from one region to another. Generally, Moroccan Amazigh Music can be divided into three types, namely village music, ritual music, and the professional music (the music that performed by the professional Berber musicians). Moroccan Berber music is fundamentally joyful, social, and spiritually sacred.

To dive into details, Village music is a collective music and dance performed by men and women standing in a line, beating on drums (bendir) and chanting together. This type is performed during wedding ceremonies and special festivals. The instruments used in village music are drums and flute (nay); however, some regions use only drums (or bendirs). The best-known dances of the village music are Ahidous in the the western High Atlas, which is only performed by drums, and Ahwach in the eastern High Atlas, performed by both drums and flutes.

The ritual Music is widely performed in religious ceremonies, agricultural calendars, and other important life events. Traditionally, it is used as a means against evil spirits. Also, it is an emotional music that entertains the soul and makes the mind momentarily happy and free of tense. The instrument used in ritual music is often drums.

The professional music is a music performed by the professional musicians, and takes different forms, including Tamawayt, Tamdyazt, Afrady.

Tamawayt is a highly emotional chant or shrieking cries in a complete trance performed in loud-voice, often dealing with love issues. There is no instrument accompanied with Tamawayt.

Tamdyazt is an improvised rhythmic poem performed by professional musicians Imdyazn, often dealing with topical issues. In this performance, the instruments used are drums (bendirs), flute (nai), old violin, and a double clarinet called Aghanim. However, the use of these instruments varies according to region.

Afrady is, somehow like Tamdyazt, a rhythmic poem improvised by special musicians with emotional sonority, but without any musical instrument. Also, it involves topical issues and social events; on the other hand, Afrady is traditionally informative as it conveys heavy connotations expressing the concern issue.

Berber Life

Moroccan Berbers live a simple but difficult life, which rare in our days. Almost everything is made naturally by hands; hard physical work is always demanding for both Berber men and women. They are politically and economically marginalized, little but no access to the internet, hospitals and maternal healthcare, and the vast majority of them are unknowledgeable. More to the point, they face a number of challenges; the extreme cold and poverty. Hence, as Berbers in origin, we voluntarily devoted a percentage of our resources revenue for them, randomly contributed among them moving from one region to another.

Eventually, if you want to delve into Berber culture, traditions, cuisine, music, folklore, Festival (Imilchile) - anything that contributes to their unique identity, don’t hesitated to plan your tour with us. We will have the pleasure to arrange your Berber Tour.

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