Moroccan Folklore – Mysterious and Historical Traditions

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 Awash
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.

The Ouais
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.

Ha Ha
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.

The Fantasia
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!

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