Festival and fantasia – Tamaslouht Musem and Tbourida

About 30 kilometres to the South of the red city of Marrakech in the direction of Lalla Takerkoust lake, a small festival takes place in memory of the saint Moulay Abdellah Ben Hussain. This festival is called the Tamaslouht Musem (festival) and Tbourida (fantasia) and it occurs on the last week of January.

On the first day or Tamaslouht, occurs the Tbourida, or fantasia.  This is where the various clans of Marrakech have the opportunity to compete against each other using Berber horses, which are known throughout Morocco for their strength and beauty.

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The competition determines the strength of the relationship between rider and horse, and the coordination skills of a score of riders representing a clan. The riders leader, called a Cheikh or Kaid is responsible for organising the clan into a circular ring (called a Serba) and instructing them to watch carefully for his signal once the competition begins.

When the competition is in full effect, the riders must be ready at a moments notice to recognise the Kaid’s secret signal, so that they can rally their horses shoot the gunpowder they use (called Baroud) into the air in complete unison.

Both rider and horse don the colours and style of their respective tribes, and where in centuries past these competitions were engaged with only by men, in modern times women too are allowed to try their hand.

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After the first day of Tbourida draws to a close, festival goers then join the Musem, involving children’s games and circus acrobatics. Another important feature that plays into effect over the course of the four days is the trance-like music of Gnawa and Issawa, which is played ritually throughout the Musem. This music is intended to incite a spiritual and calming atmosphere, whereupon festival goers can invoke the blessing of the saint Moulay Abdellah Ben Hussain.

The Tamaslouht Musem and Tbourida festival, and many others like it are commonplace in the ancient city of Marrakech. Explore the red city today in one of our luxury Riad Hotels.

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