Hello dear volunteers
We have now moved to a brand new office and are looking forward to seeing you there
If you need to stop by our office, please note our new address
Projects Abroad Morocco 61 Bis, Rue Oum Errabie, Apt 3
A Teaching volunteer from Netherlands Josephine was the last volunteer to come to our old office, and on Monday, Lilian, a new Human Rights volunteer from USA, was the first to visit our new office! How exciting?
Have a lovely weekend in sunny Morocco
Well, writing about Haja Hamdaouia's style made me want to write about Moroccan traditional dress… but if I really want to write about it, it will be the longest blog ever because there is a LOT to say! But that's not the case so, here is some information
Moroccan traditional dress is centuries old, has undergone many changes, and varies from region to region. We usually agree on the fact that Caftan is the traditional dress, but if we take into consideration the Amazigh tribes, the Eastern part of Morocco, as well as the Arab nomads and desert inhabitants, it turns out that we have many Moroccan traditional dresses. Let us just say, the most famous and most popular Moroccan dress tends to be a Jellaba, for daily use, and Caftan, for celebrations. Caftan itself is divided into two types, Caftan, which is one piece dress, and "Takcheeta", which is Caftan plus an upper layer known as "Dfeena". Caftan is for minor celebrations, and Takchita is for weddings and birth celebrations for instance
Moroccan traditional Takchita is known as "Malakiya", "Makhzaniya", in reference to the traditional Fassi dress worn by the princesses of the royal family. It is the classic intemporal style
However, Takchita is so loved by Moroccans of all ages and social milieus that it has naturally progressed along with the requirements of modernity. There are yearly fashion shows of Caftan with new models and inspirations. The most famous and fanciest of these shows is simply known as "Caftan", and takes place every year in Marrakesh. Famous worldwide fashion designers, such as Jean Paul Gaultier, have revisited the Caftan
How we make Moroccan traditional dresses
First of all, we buy fabric. There are many types of fabric, and the most popular ones tend to be silk, brocade, velvet, Kashmir, wool (mleefa), etc. Moroccan women are also very fond of Indian saris. Fabric can cost from 250 to 15000 dirhams, it really depends on what you can afford. Therefore, everybody can wear Caftans and Takchitas. For Jellabas, fabric can even be cheaper. Jellaba is the most widely worn dress in Morocco!
After buying fabric, we take it to a special dressmaker specialized in "beldi" (traditional) style. These skilled dressmakers advise us on the tailoring but also, and especially, on the "sfeefa" style and colour. Sfeefa is the traditional passmentrie ornament of Moroccan dresses
After we choose a model and a pattern, the dressmaker gives our fabric to a team of designers. They are sfeefa, embroidery, pearl settings, and tailoring specialists. Sfeefa can either be with silk or with gold threads, and of course, each type has its own experts!
Takchita, unlike Caftan and Jellaba, is composed of two layers and a belt. The belt can be made of gold threads or of silk threads, or simply in fabric with various types of ornaments. The belts are traditionally made of gold or silver, which has remained a quite common custom (yet, an expansive one, so guess how common
Jellaba tends to be more discrete, and has a hood. Jellaba is really for day to day apparel, and besides that it is always worn in specific occasions such as visiting people for condolences, but also on happier occasions like the 27th night of Ramadan and the days of Aids (religious celebrations
Jellabas are for men too, but of course, in different style. Men also have their Caftan called "Qamiss", and a style of it called "Gandoura
There are ready made Jellabas, Caftans and even Takchitas for sale
If you are interested in Moroccan music, and have heard some of it or read something about it, then you have probably come across this name: Hamdaouia
Moroccan music is very rich and reflects the different cultural heritages of the Moroccan society such as Amazigh, Andalusian, Oriental, Sub-Saharian African, Hassani, etc
However, it is usually pop music that tends to make everybody agree and it is the same here in Morocco with "shaabi" music, which literally means popular music. Shaabi is that dancing cheerful music played in weddings, in stores in souks, in cocktail restaurants and clubs, and the same that makes up most of musical TV shows. Shaabi is, along with Egyptian pop, the music that women would turn on loud at home when doing the housework and making lunch, taking of course some time to dance in the intimacy of their homes. It is the same music that girls will dance on at a pyjama party, and it is probably the only music that would make a Moroccan man dance in public, at least, in the central area of the country because in other regions, men do dance on the traditional music of their specific culture)
Shaabi can be divided into many varieties and qualities as well, probably just as any other pop music of the world. There is David Bowie and there is Justin bieber if you know what I mean
But that's another story! Now back to Moroccan pop and to its most famous symbol: Haja Hamdaouia
Haja Hamdaouia is a famous Moroccan singer from Casablanca. She is a living icon of Moroccan popular music, as she has made of "Aïta Marssawiya" music a real art while it was perceived as immoral folklore. As early as in the fifties, in old traditional Morocco, Haja Hamdaouia, who was then called Sheikha Hamdaouia like popular female singers of Aïta, made her musical revolution by modernising and ennobling Aïta music. She was already a pop star in the time of black & white TV
She is famous for having such a strong personality and character! It certainly helped her impose her own style and music to become a pop music icon for all generations. She is loved by all Moroccans from different backgrounds, from 7 to 77 years old. As an artist she has, of course, lots of talent and a gorgeous voice. Even if she is older than 70 today, her voice seems to have remained the same
Her most successful songs have now become pop classics and all current Moroccan pop stars have adapted them to their own style or are faithfully interpreting them. Imitated but never equalled, the French say. Haja Hamdaouia has always performed in traditional Moroccan dress Caftan, and not any Caftan; the eternally fashionable style named "mekhzany", "hassby" or "malaky", and has never worn any new style Caftan. Recently however, she posed for a Moroccan women's magazine in… WESTERN STYLE CLOTHES and that was surprising
You can listen to Haja Hamdaouia on the web and enjoy melodies from popular Morocco! If you visit us in Rabat and have the chance to walk in the souk of the Medina, you will certainly go like "Oh I know that one!" And that would be Haja Hamdaouia
All over Morocco, there is this custom of gathering for lunch or tea, in some natural spot, may it be a forest, an open farm, a beach, or a park. This custom is known as nzaha, although it can have different names from region to region
As soon as sunrays spread some warmth, families pack their baskets full of food and head to the periphery of their town, to the parks in their cities, or to nearby natural spots such as lakes, rivers, forests or beaches. An impressive crowd of people then settles on mats, men and women doing different activities as the children play or swim if there's any water
In the north of Morocco, this custom is especially popular on the 1st of May, the international Workers' Day. You can see on the edge of rivers and in forests, dozens and dozens of families enjoying springtime. Some vendors, who have soon realized it was the place to be, come with their little carriages to sell pop corn, candy floss, card games, balloons, or sausages and bread for the lazy comers.
In Marrakesh, you can see people sitting and lying on mats in every park as soon as it gets a little cool. Since the city has many parks and gardens, it offers a variety of choices for nature lovers
People of Meknes and Fez are also very fond of this custom. Traditionally, they would go to "jnanate", open farms and orchards where people can sit and brunch. There are less jnanate today, but the custom persists in the peripheries and natural spots nevertheless.
The food can be sandwiches, but Moroccans love barbecue and they love to eat their tagine almost anywhere! So you can definitely see stewpans on camping gaz bottles, and kutban (kebab) on braziers! By rivers, Moroccans leave their soda bottles, melons or watermelons to cool in the water, blocking them with a rock or hanging them with a rope; that's some natural refrigerator
In Setti Fatma where I went this weekend, a lovely village in the Ourika Valley near Marrakesh, people come from all over the region for some weekend nzaha time! There were easily hundreds and hundreds of people by the river. You have to cross rudimentary bridges to reach the other side of the river, there you find locals selling the best tagine shelhaoui (Berber) ever! There are mats and pillows for rent, to lie in beautiful spots under the shade of grape vines. This nzaha destination is so popular that there was a huge traffic jam on the way back! It looked like a rush hour in crowded Casablanca! If you ever want to go there, try not to go on a Sunday, unless you like to see masses of people since Sunday is… the day when most people go for nzaha
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