Amazigh Arts in Morocco: Women Shaping Berber Identity
Cynthia Becker | ISBN: 0292712952 | PDF | 241 pages | 2006 | 7 MB
In southeastern Morocco, around the oasis of Tafilalet, the Ait Khabbash people weave brightly coloured carpets, embroider indigo head coverings, paint their faces with saffron, and wear ornate jewellery. Their extraordinarily detailed arts are rich in cultural symbolism; they are always breathtakingly beautiful - and they are typically made by women. Like other Amazigh (Berber) groups (but in contrast to the Arab societies of North Africa), the Ait Khabbash have entrusted their artistic responsibilities to women. Cynthia Becker spent years in Morocco living among these women and, through family connections and female fellowship, achieved unprecedented access to the artistic rituals of the Ait Khabbash. The result is more than a stunning examination of the arts themselves; it is also an illumination of women's roles in Islamic North Africa and the many ways in which women negotiate complex social and religious issues. One of the reasons Amazigh women are artists is that the arts are expressions of ethnic identity, and it follows that the guardians of Amazigh identity ought to be those who literally ensure its continuation from generation to generation, the Amazigh women. Not surprisingly, the arts are visual expressions of womanhood, and fertility symbols are prevalent.