Edward Westermarck.

Marriage ceremonies in Morocco online

. (page 1 of 34)
Online LibraryEdward WestermarckMarriage ceremonies in Morocco → online text (page 1 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





















I HAVE to thank my friend Mr. Gerald C. Wheeler
for kindly reading over both the manuscript and the
proofs, and my friend and colleague Professor Knut
L. Tallqvist for giving me his advice on some philo-
logical matter.

E. W.

8//J January 1914.



The aim of the book, p. i. The Muhammedan natives of Morocco,
p. 2 sq. The representatives chosen for them in the present investi-
gation, p. 3 sq. Differences in their language and customs, p. 4.
The collection of the materials, pp. 4-6. Earlier descriptions of
marriages in Morocco, p. 6 sq. The psychological origins of cere-
monieSj pp. 7-9. Their historical origins, p. 9 sq. The Moorish
wedding ceremonies not empty formalities, p. 10 sq. The system of
transliteration, pp. 11-13.



Muhammedan law on the subject, pp. 15-18. Marriages of young people
in Morocco arranged by their parents, p. 18 sq. Mediators, p. 19 sq.
Practices and ceremonies connected with the betrothal and marriage
contract at Fez, pp. 20-29. In Andjra, pp. 29-32. Among the Ul&d
Bu-Aziz, pp. 32-34. In the Hiaina, p. 34 sq. Among the Ait
Sadden, pp. 35-41. Among the Ait Nder, pp. 41-44. Among the
Ait Warain, p. 44 sq. Among the At Ubahti, pp. 45-48. Among the
At Zihri, p. 48 sq. Among the Ait Waryagal, pp. 49-51. Among
the Ait Tameldu, p. 51 sq. Written contracts of marriage, p. 52 sq.
Marriages between cousins, pp. 53-56. Between members of the
same village, p. 56. Between persons belonging to different villages,
ibid. Between members of different tribes, ibid. Between Berber-
and Arabic-speaking natives, p. 56 sq. Instances of strict endogamy,
p. 57. Prohibitions of intermarriage referring to some special tribes,
subdivisions of tribes, or villages, in connection with other peculiarities
in their social relations, pp. 57-59. The institution of brotherhood,


ibid. Marriage with a deceased brother's widow, p. 59 sq. A widow
or divorced wife allowed to dispose of her own hand, ibid. Subject to
her father, ibid. Customs relating to married women who have run
away from their husbands, pp. 60-63.



Muhammedan law concerning the dowry, p. 64 sq. The dowry in
Morocco, pp. 65-74. Names for it, p. 65 sq. The dowry fixed once
for all by custom, pp. 66-69. Among the Ulid Bu- Aziz, p. 66 sq.
At Amzmttz, p. 67. Among the Igliwa, p. 67 sq. Among the Ait
Tameldu, p. 68. In Aglu, p. 68 sq. Among the At Ubahti, p. 69.
The dowry varying according to the circumstances, pp. 69-73. At
Fez, p. 69 sq. In Andjra, p. 70. In the Hiaina, p. 70 sq. Among
the Ait Sadden, p. 71. Among the Ait Warain, p. 71 sq. Among
the Ait Waryagal, p. 72 sq. Other payments and gifts to the girl's
father, pp. 75-79. The td'mamt, pp. 75-77. The mdkla, p. 77. The
hdlya, p. 77 sq. Payments made to other members of the girl's family
than her father, pp. 79-82. Presents given to the girl by her
betrothed, p. 82 sq. By her father, p. 83 sq.



The giving of a wedding feast commended by Muhammedan law, p. 85.
The wedding feast held in the bridegroom's home, ibid. Names for
wedding in Morocco, p. 85 sq. The time for celebrating marriages,
pp. 86-88. Marriages avoided in certain periods, p. 86. Celebrated
on certain days of the week, p. 86 sq. The cleaning and grinding of
the wheat or corn which is to be used for the wedding, pp. 88-95.
In the Garblya, p. 88. In Andjra, pp. 88-90. Among the Tsdl,
p. 90 sq. In the Hiaina, p. 91. Among the Ait Sadden, p. 91 sq.
Among the Ait Nder, p. 92 sq. Among the At Ubahti, p. 93 sq.
Among the Shloh, p. 94. Superstitious importance attached to the
grit which has been removed from the wheat, p. 94 sq. The painting
of the bridegroom with henna and ceremonies connected with it,
pp. 95-125. In Andjra, pp. 95-99. Among the Tsui, pp. 99-102.
In the Hiaina, pp. 102-105. Among the Ulad Bu-'Aziz, p. 105.
Among the Ait Warain, pp. 105-110. Among the Ait Nder, p. no.


Among the Ait Sadden, pp. 110-112. Among the At Ubahti,
p. 112 sq. Among the Ait Waryagal, pp. 113-116. Among the
Igliwa, p. 116 sq. In Aglu, p. 117. Among the Ait Tameldu, ibid.
At Tangier, p. 117 sq. Summary and explanations, pp. 118-125.
Other ceremonies to which the bridegroom is subject before meeting
his bride, pp. 125-133. In Andjra, pp. 125-130. Among the Ait
Waryagal, p. 130 sq. The shaving of his head at Fez, pp. 131-133.
Other preparations for the wedding at Fez, pp. 133-135.



Ceremonies in the bride's home at Fez, pp. 136-140. At Tangier, pp.
140-142. In Andjra, pp. 142-146. Among the Tsui, p. 146 sq.
In the Hiaina, p. 147 sq. Among the Ait Warain, p. 148 sq. Among
the Ait Nder, p. 149. Among the Ait Yiisi, pp. 149-152. Among
the Ait Sadden, pp. 152-155. Among the At Ubahti, p. 155. Among
the Ait Waryagal, p. 155 sq. In Aglu, p. 156 sq. Among the Ait
Tameldu, p. 157. Among the Igliwa, ibid. At Amzmuz, ibid.
Among the Ulad Bu-Aziz, pp. 157-160. Summary and explanations,
pp. 160-164.



The fetching of the bride at Fez, pp. 165-167. At Tangier, p. 167 sq.
In the Garbiya, p. 168. In Andjra, pp. 168-171. Among the Tsui,
p. 171 sq. In the Hiaina, p. 172 sq. Among the Ulad Bu-'Aziz,
p. 173 sq. Among the Ait Sadden, pp. 174-178. Among the Ait
Yiisi, pp. 178-180. Among the Ait Nder, p. 180 sq. Among the
Ait Warain, p. 181 sq. Among the At Ubahti, p. 182 sq. Among
the Ait Waryagal, p. 183. In Aglu, p. 183 sq. Among the Ait
Tameldu, p. 184 sq. Among the Igliwa, p. 185. At Amzmuz,
p. 185 sq. Summary and explanations, pp. 186-192^



The arrival and reception of the bride at Fez, p. 193 sq. In Andjra,
p. 194 sq. Among the Tsui, p. 195 sq. In the Hiaina, p. 196 sq.
In the Garbiya, p. 197. Among the Ulad Bu-'Aziz, pp. 197-199.


Among the Ait Sadden, pp. 199-203. Among the Ait Yusi, pp.
203-206. Among the Ait Nder, p. 206 sq. Among the Ait Warain,
pp. 207- 209. Among the At Ubahti, p. 209 sq. Among the Ait
Waryagal, pp. 210-212. In Aglu, p. 212 sq. Among the Ait
Tameldu, p. 2 1 3. Among the Igliwa, p. 2 1 3 sq. At Amzmuz, p. 214.
Summary and explanations, pp. 214-224.



The meeting of the bride and bridegroom and the morning after at Fez,
pp. 225-230. In Andjra, pp. 230-235. Among the Tsui, p. 235 sq.
In the Hiaina, pp. 236-238. Among the Ulad Bu- Aziz, p. 238 sq.
Among the Ait Sadden, p. 239 sq. Among the Ait Yusi, pp. 240-242.
Among the Ait Nder, p. 242 sq. Among the Ait Warain, pp.
243-248. Among the At Ubahti, p. 248 sq. Among the Ait
Waryagal, p. 249 sq. In Aglu, pp. 250-252. At Demnat, p. 252.
Among the Ait Tameldu, p. 252 sq. Among the Igliwa, p. 253 sq.
At Amzmilz, p. 254. Summary and explanations, pp. 254-271.
The defloration of the bride said to be performed by somebody else
than the bridegroom, pp. 271-273. Remarkable intimacy between
the bride and her imsnein or "vizier," p. 273.



The continuation and end of the wedding at Fez, pp. 274-279. In
Andjra, pp. 279-281. Among the Tsol, p. 281. In the Hiaina,
p. 282. Among the Ulad Bu- Aziz, pp. 282-284. Among the Ait
Nder, p. 284 sq. Among the At Ubahti, p. 285 sq. Among the Ait
Waryagal, p. 286. Among the Ait Warain, p. 286 sq. Among the
Ait Sadden, p. 287 sq. Among the Ait Yusi, p. 288 sq. Among the
Igliwa, p. 289. Among the Ait Tameldu, ibid. Practices and taboos
which spring from the idea that the bride and bridegroom are still
exposed to supernatural dangers, pp. 289-291. Ceremonies on the
sixth or seventh day after the arrival of the bride, pp. 291-299.
Visit paid by the bridegroom to his parents-in-law, p. 291. The
belting of the bride and ceremonies connected with it, pp. 292-295.
Ceremonies following upon the belting of the bride, pp. 295-299.
Ceremonies on the ninth day after nhttr l-'Brs at Fez, p. 299.




Restrictions to which the young wife is subject, p. 300. Visits which the
young wife or her husband or both together pay to her parents, and
other ceremonies, pp. 300-3 10. At Fez, p. 301. At Tangier, ibid.
In Andjra, p. 302. Among the Tsui, ibid. Among the Ulad
Bu- Aziz, ibid. In the Hiaina, pp. 302-306. Among the Ait Sadden,
p. 306 sq. Among the Ait Yusi, p. 307. Among the Ait Nder,
p. 307 sq. Among the Ait Warain, p. 308. Among the At Ubahti,
p. 308 sq. Among the Ait Waryagal, p. 309. Among the Ait
Tameldu, p. 309 sq. A man's avoidance of his parents-in-law, pp.
310-317. Of his brothers-in-law, pp. 310-312. Shyness in the
relations between a young man and his parents, pp. 313-316. In
the relations between the bride and her parents, p. 315. Relations
between a wife and her parents-in-law, p. 317 sq.



Various superstitious beliefs and practices connected with Moorish marriages,
p. 319 sq. Omens at weddings, p. 320 sq. Customs springing from
the feeling or idea that bride and bridegroom are in a state of danger,
pp. 321-325. From the idea that the bride is a source of danger to
others, pp. 325-328. Why bride and bridegroom are supposed to be
in a dangerous condition and the bride is considered to be dangerous
to others, pp. 328-342. Ceremonies practised in cases where either
bride or bridegroom or both have been married before, pp. 328-334.
At Fez, p. 329. Among the Ulad Bu-'Aziz, pp. 329-331. Among
the Ait Sadden, p. 331 sq. Among the Ait Yusi, p. 332. Among
the Ait Nder, p. 332 sq. Among the Ait Waryagal, p. 333. Sexual
intercourse looked upon as defiling and, under certain circumstances,
as a mysterious cause of evil, pp. 334-338. Notions held about the
female sex, pp. 338-342. The dangers to which bride and bridegroom
are believed to be exposed, pp. 342-344. The jnun in many cases
personifications of the mysterious qualities of persons or lifeless objects,
p. 343. Ceremonies having a mixed origin, pp. 344-346. The
precautions taken at weddings readily assuming the shape of joyful
performances, p. 344 sq. Practices expressing or symbolising sexual
bashfulness, p. 345. Ceremonies expressing the antagonism which


exists between different groups of people, p. 345 sq. Geremonies
supposed to confer positive benefits on the bride or bridegroom
or both, pp. 347-359. E.g. to make their lives bright and happy
or to bring good luck or prosperity, p. 347. To increase the food
supply, p. 347 sq. To make the year good, ibid. To facilitate the
consummation of the marriage, p. 348. To make the wife fruitful,
and, particularly, a mother of male offspring, pp. 348-351 (possibly
353). To make the wife remain in her new home or to strengthen
the marriage tie, pp. 353-355. To make the husband fond of his
wife, p. 355. To make her the ruler, p. 355 sq. To give the husband
power over her or to make her a good wife, p. 356 sq. To make her
dear to the bridegroom's family or to put her on good terms with her
mother-in-law, p. 357. In many cases impossible to make a definite
distinction between protective or purificatory ceremonies and such as
are held to result in more positive benefits, p. 357 sq. Baraka as an
element in the ceremonies connected with a Moorish marriage,
pp. 358-362. Bride and bridegroom regarded as holy persons, pp.
359-362. Marriage enjoined as a religious duty, p. 359. Holy
individuals or objects very susceptible to all kinds of harmful influences,
especially those of a supernatural kind, p. 360. The nature of
baraka, ibid. Benefits expected from a wedding, pp. 360-363. A
wedding looked upon as a potential cause of other weddings, p. 362 sq.
The presence of friends and guests held to benefit bride and bride-
groom, p. 364. The social importance of Moorish marriage cere-
monies, p. 364 sq.

ADDENDA (containing a discussion of the prohibition of marriage
between kindred and exogamy) .... pp. 367-376

INDEX OF ARABIC WORDS . . . .pp. 377-386

INDEX OF BERBER WORDS . . pp. 387-392

GENERAL INDEX . . " . . . pp. 393-422


THIS book is meant to be a kind of apology for a
serious omission of which I was guiJty when I wrote my
History of Human Marriage , over twenty years ago. In
that book I devoted only a very short chapter to the
wedding ceremonies, and in my brief treatment of them
I almost entirely failed to recognise their magical
significance. This was afterwards strongly emphasised
by Mr. Ernest Crawley in his theory that the cere-
monies of marriage are intended to neutralise the
dangers supposed to be connected with all contact
between man and woman and with the state of
marriage itself, as also to make the union safe, pros-
perous, and happy a theory which, as he himself
acknowledged in the Preface to The Mystic Rose, was
founded on Dr. Frazer's discovery of the primitive
conception of danger attaching to the sexual act. For
my own part I shall not here make an attempt to
lay down any general theory as to the origin of
marriage ceremonies, but shall restrict myself to the
wedding customs of a single people, namely, the
Muhammedan natives of Morocco, among whom I


have spent some six years engaged in sociological

These natives are chiefly of Berber race, although
the Berber language, which before the arrival of the
Arabs undoubtedly was spread over the whole country,
is nowadays mostly restricted to mountain districts.
The Berber-speaking tribes, to whom alone the term
" Berbers " is popularly applied, may be divided into
several groups. There are the Berbers of the Rif, called
Ruafa, whose country extends along the Mediterranean
coast from the neighbourhood of Tetuan to the Algerian
frontier ; the Briber, who inhabit the mountain regions
of Central Morocco and the eastern portion of the
Great Atlas range ; the Shloh, who inhabit the western
part of the Great Atlas and the province of Sus, situated
to the south of it a territory the eastern frontier of
which may be roughly indicated by a line drawn from
Demnat in a south-easterly direction, and the northern
frontier by a slightly curved line uniting Demnat with
Mogador on the Atlantic coast and following the foot
of the mountains, or, in some places, intercepting a
strip of the plain ; and the Drawa, who inhabit the
valley of the Wad Dra in the extreme south of Morocco.
As a fifth group must, from a linguistic point of view,
be counted various tribes living in the neighbourhood
of Ujda, in the north-east of the country (At Buzeggu,
At Zihri, At 'Amar, At Shbgl, At Lmdi, At Yiznasgn,
At Ya'la, and At Ubahti).

The Arabic-speaking people of Morocco consist of
the 'Arab (" Arabs "), who inhabit most of the plains ;


the Jbala, who inhabit the mountains of Northern
Morocco, north-west, west, and south-west of the Rlf,
towards the neighbourhood of Fez a group of tribes
in whose veins, in spite of their language, there can
hardly be a drop of Arab biood ; and the Arabic-
speaking inhabitants of the towns, who are often re-
ferred to as " Moors," although this name may be more
conveniently applied to the Muhammedan population
of Morocco in general.

I have, during my sixteen journeys to Morocco, been
anxious to study the customs and beliefs of these various
groups of people, and for this reason chosen representa-
tives for all of them, with the exception of the Drawa,
as regards whom I have been unable to procure any
reliable information. In this book the Ruafa are repre-
sented by the Ait Waryagal, better known under their
Arabic name Beni Waryagal ; the Berbers in the
neighbourhood of Ujda by the At Ubahti (Arab.
Bhat s a) ; the Braber by the Ait (Arab. Beni) Sadden,
Ait Yusi, Ait (Arab. Beni) Warain, and Ait Nder
(Arab. Beni Mter) ; the Shloh by the people of Aglu
on the coast of Sns, the Ait Tame'ldu on the southern
slopes of the Great Atlas range, the Igliwa inhabiting
the district of Glawi in the same mountains, and the
inhabitants of Amzmuz ; the 'Arab by the U1M
Bu-'Aziz in Dukkala, the natives of the Hiaina in
the neighbourhood of Fez, and those of the GarMya in
Northern Morocco ; the Jbala by the tribe of Andjra,
on the southern shore of the Straits of Gibraltar, and
the Tsui, one of the most southerly tribes of the


group ; and the townsfolk by the inhabitants of Fez
and Tangier.

It must be understood, however, that the tribes
belonging to the same group often differ more or less
from each other in their customs, as they also do in their
language. Whilst their dialects have a greater re-
semblance than those spoken within different groups,
they may at the same time present considerable dis-
similarities ; the Shelha of Aglu, for example, is not
the same as the Shelha of Glawi, and among the Briber
the language even of neighbouring tribes, like the Ait
Saddgn and Ait Warain, may differ so much in its
vocabulary and phonetics that a member of the one tribe
sometimes finds it difficult to understand a member of
the other and, as I have tested myself, is unable to imitate
certain sounds of his dialect. As regards customs the
local influence may be so strong that there is, not infre-
quently, a greater resemblance in this respect between
" Arabs " and " Berbers " living in the same neighbour-
hood than between tribes belonging to the same group.
On the other hand, it must not be supposed that the
customs are quite uniform even within the same tribe.

I have myself visited many of the places and tribes
mentioned in this book. Thus I have spent half a
year in Fez ; the same length of time in Andjra, and
several weeks in other tribes of the Jbala ; some months
in the Fahs ; about five months in the Garblya ; nearly
two months among the Ulld Bu-'Aziz, besides which I
had daily intercourse with men of this tribe during my
five months' stay in Mazagan ; three months among the


Shl6h of the Great Atlas range ; and several months in
Marrakesh and Mogador, where I employed Shlsh as
my teachers. During my stay in Fez and Sgfru and
the excursions I made from the latter place to the
surrounding tribe of the Ait Yusi, I had a good oppor-
tunity to study the customs of Berbers belonging to the
group of the Briber, of whom it has been justly said
that they are the least known people in Northern
Africa. In Morocco very many districts are absolutely
inaccessible to any traveller who cannot disguise himself
as a native, and to do this is of course impossible in the
case of a prolonged stay. Even for my sojourn in
Andjra, which was then in a disturbed state, my Lega-
tion required of me a written statement to the effect
that I went there entirely at my own risk. Yet the
treatment I received there, as well as among other
mountaineers and peasants not generally noted for
friendliness towards Europeans, was invariably of the
kindliest nature ; and for this credit is due to my
Moorish friend Shereef 'Abd-es-Salam el-Baqqali, who
has accompanied me on all my journeys in Morocco
and rendered me invaluable assistance. But also with
regard to tribes which I have not visited myself I have
in every case got my information from natives of those
tribes, with the exception of the statements relating to
the Ait Nder, most of which were made by an old
Berber from another tribe who for very many years
had been a resident among them as also of a few other
statements, the unauthoritative character of which is
expressly mentioned in the text.


My descriptions of wedding ceremonies are thus
very largely drawn from oral information, which I have
obtained both from men and women. This is true
even in the case of tribes where I myself have been
present at a wedding, either as an invited guest or as a
spectator in Moorish disguise, since I obviously could
not see everything which took place. I shall give the
accounts of my informants in full in spite of the
repetitions they contain ; though these may be a little
tiresome to the reader they will, at the same time, serve
as a guarantee for the accuracy of the statements.

My subject is not altogether new, although a com-
parative study of the marriage ceremonies in the
different parts of Morocco has not been attempted
before. Previous writers have given longer or shorter
descriptions of marriages celebrated in certain localities
or tribes, such as Fez, 1 Tangier, 2 Alcazar (1-Qsar
1-Kblr), 3 Demnat, 4 and the Fahs, 5 Hlot, 6 Habt, 7 and
Rahamna. 8 The present treatise, however, is entirely

1 Leo Africanus, History and Description of Africa, ii. (London, 1896), pp. 448-
452. Eugene Aubin (Descos), Morocco of To-day (London, 1906), pp. 256-260.

2 Salmon, ' Les Manages musulmans a Tanger,' in Archives marocaines, i. (1904),
pp. 273-289. Emily, Shareefa of Wazan, My Life Story (London, 1911), pp,

3 Michaux-Bellaire and Salmon, ' El-Qcar el-Kebir,' in Archives marocaines,
vol. ii. no. ii. (1904), pp. 66-72.

4 Sai'd Boulifa, Textes berberes en dialects de f Atlas marocain (Paris, 1908)7
pp. 5-23.

5 Salmon, 'Une Tribu marocaine,' in Archives marocaines, i. (1904), pp. 207-212.

6 Michaux-Bellaire and Salmon, ' Les Tribus arabes de la valle du Lekkous,'
in Archives marocaines, vi. (1906), pp. 223-233.

7 Michaux-Bellaire, ' Quelques tribus de montagnes de la region du Habt,' in.
Archives marocaines, xvii. (1911), pp. 127-134.

8 Doutte, Merrakech (Paris, 1905), pp. 331-339. In Budgett Meakin's book on.
The Moors (London, 1902; pp. 361-375) a chapter is devoted to marriage, chiefly
though not exclusively as it is celebrated at Tangier. Other references to marriage


based on my own notes, though reference is occasion-
ally made to facts recorded by my predecessors.

In my study of the wedding ceremonies I have not
been content with ascertaining the bare external facts,
but have, so far as possible, tried to discover the ideas
underlying them. The reader will find that the ex-
planations given by the natives themselves are not
always alike. The reason for this may be either that
the same ceremony has in different cases sprung from
different sources, or that it has a mixed motive, or that
its real origin has been forgotten and a new interpreta-
tion substituted for the idea from which it rose.

There is a tendency in Anthropology to assume that
similar ceremonies have their roots in similar ideas, even
when practised by different peoples ; and this tendency
has often led to ill-founded or even obviously erroneous
conclusions. It should be remembered that, especially
among simple peoples, the means of expressing ideas in
actions are so limited, that the same kind of activity or
the making use of similar objects may very often have
a different psychological origin in different cases.
Objects like corn, dried fruit, eggs, milk, etc., may be
used for a variety of purposes ; eggs in wedding
ceremonies, for example, may be intended to promote
fecundity on account of physiological associations, or
to give good luck or make the weather fine on account

customs in Morocco are found in Moulieras, Une Tribu Zenlte anti-musulmane au
Maroc (les Zkara) (Paris, 1905), pp. 82-96 j Idem, Le Maroc Inconnu, \. Exploration
du Rif (Oran, 1895), pp. 67, 68, 115 ; ii. Exploration des Djebala (Oran, 1899),
pp. 494-499 ; and in some other books mentioned in M. Doutte's bibliography on
the subject in his Merrakech, p. 331 sq. n. 2.


of their white colour, or to facilitate sexual intercourse
on account of the fragility of their shells. And if
similar ceremonies may thus have sprung from different
motives in different cases, it is obvious that also the
same ceremony in a given case may be intended to
serve more than one purpose ; nay, there is no reason

Online LibraryEdward WestermarckMarriage ceremonies in Morocco → online text (page 1 of 34)