The Berbers are a people ethnically indigenous to North Africa west of the Nile Valley. The Berber’s rich cultural history dates back to prehistoric times, over 4000 years ago! Their long recorded influence affected commerce by establishing trading routes between the West African and the Sub-Saharan region where they transported goods from beyond the Sahara desert to the Northern Moroccan cities. Indeed, the Berber identity is usually wider than language, craft and ethnicity; it encompasses the entire history and geography of North Africa and Morocco.
Today, it is still possible to still find many traditional Berber settlements in the mountains of Morocco. Although the Berber people do not live exclusively in rural settlements, these communities offer an interesting insight into the Berber tradition and history. So, when we were invited to visit a traditional Berber Village during our excursion to the village of Imlil in the High Atlas Mountains, we just could not pass on the opportunity.
It had taken us around an hour to reach the village from Marrakech, but the two were worlds apart. The village we had arrived at stood as a cluster of pisé homes carved into the hillside, set to the backdrop of the majestic Atlas Mountains. The Berbers call the Atlas range idraren draren, “The Mountains of Mountains”, and it is easy to see why. The Atlas Mountains stood tall as an unmoving monument, towering over dozens of small Berber communities. The scene was marked by a prevailing silence and an overwhelming stillness; two luxuries rarely found in the vibrant medina of Marrakech.
As we ascended up the narrow pathway lined with clay houses, our tread was delicate as if not to disturb the ambience of scene. That is not to say that we were not or did not feel welcome; instead, our silence was partially a feeling of awe and amazement, and partially an attempt to witness the everyday Berber life unnoticed, so to capture a glimpse of the local community in a way that was as pure as possible. Indeed, the Berber people are renowned for being their hospitality and we were invited into a small home and offered to share a glass of famous Moroccan mint tea. After, we were given a tour of the settlement and had an opportunity to ask our hosts any questions about Berber life. We only visited the village for around 20 minutes, but this experience will stay with us for a lot longer.
When you visit the Souks of Marrakech, you will find many examples of Berber craftsmanship from the stunning silver Tuareg and Amazigh jewellery to handmade Berber rugs. However, if you want to learn more about the authentic Berber way of life, we highly recommend a trip to a traditional Berber village as part of an excursion to Imlil in the High Atlas Mountains.
Our experienced Riad staff are on hand to organise any trips or excursions you wish to take. Our luxury Riads act as the perfect base to explore the Marrakech medina, the Atlas Mountains (including Imlil and the Berber Villages) and beyond.
New fashions come and go through the red city of Marrakech, yet there is one piece of clothing with has stayed for centuries, this is the traditional Moroccan Djellaba. Worn by both men and women, you can expect to see Djellabas worn on a day to day to basis in the streets of the red city and also at religious ceremonies, parties and weddings.
The Djellaba has a history that traces back to Berber traditions of clothing, and is worn in different styles and variations across the Maghreb region of North Africa. As well as being ceremonial, the long, loose fitting robe has a practical design which protects the wearer from strong desert winds as well as the icy climes of the mountain regions across Morocco and Algeria.
In Morocco, the exact style and design of the Djelleba differs from city to city. In Fes for example, the robe takes on the iconic design of a flowing white garment, whereas in Marrakech the Aboallouia style of Djelleba is preferred, which favours broader shoulders and a shorter hood.
The female design of the Djelleba perhaps sees the greatest range of stylistic variation, where alterations between the colours, patterns and sleeve length are vast.
From the local culinary delicacies to the world of fashion, Marrakech is a corner of the globe with a rich and vivid cultural identity. Explore the magic of the red city for yourself through the luxury and comfort of a Hotel Riad in the heart of the Marrakech Medina.about he Moroccan people.