Commonly clutched in the weathered hands of the older population of Morocco, the Tasbih (pictured) is the highly significant beaded prayer string of the Muslim population. According to the Prophet, these enable all that follow the Islamic religion to pray, give thanks to Allah and acquire a heavenly place in the after life equally, regardless of wealth or status.
Consisting of 99 equally sized beads plus one extra larger bead (‘tassel’) that connects the loop together, followers of the religion, while in prayer, pass the beads through their fingers repeating the mantra Subhan’Allah (Glory be to Allah), Alhamduillah (Praise be to Allah) and Allahuakbar (Allah is the Greatest) 33 times and a further Allahuakbar on the final 100th slightly larger connecting bead which concludes the prayer.
Found all around the Marrakshi medina’s shops and riads from the boutique souks to the makeshift salesmen selling their wonderfully diverse possessions on the side of the road, the Tasbih is typically made of inexpensive wood or different stones allows all Muslims access to this right of passage. Some however are lavishly carved from ivory, pearls and tortoiseshell with associated spiraling costs, but more seen in the wealthier Gulf countries.
Physically present less so these days however, the Tasbih is being replaced by the 3 digits on each right handed finger of the increasingly westernised Moroccan youth, which are used instead to keep count of these 100 holy utterances. The respect and understanding of the ritual however, as with the majority of Islamic practices, is still highly regarded and truly cherished by all that follow the religion.
Passionately informed from the worldly managers of the riads of Marrakech-riad, The Tasbih pictured, although not having the correct number of beads, spells out the word Allah in classical Arabic, which always seems to bring a moment of tranquility and energy for those who encounter this name.
Steeped in culture, tradition and generous personalities, Marrakech offers visitors a deep learning and wonderfully welcoming experience shared by the beautifully tranquil and relaxing riads of this great city.
Entering a Marrakshi household on a non descript Wednesday evening is an experience filled with warmth, welcome and sharing.
As the Henna artist and cook of the Henna Café in the north-west of La Medina, Fatima has been a practicing Nquasha (master of an artform) for over 26 years and a producer of local cuisine exquisites.
A small courtyard with scooter, clothes line and a picture of the atlas mountains greets you through a heavy almost un-openable metal door. We walk into the family room bordered by four benches which doubles as the marital bedroom. This is where the feast of people and supply of food will soon congregate.
As is common in Moroccan homes, the large ‘dining room’, again bordered by ornate benches, is separated off by a key reserved only for expensive crockery, unusual ornate items, boxes of henna paste and families all inviting grand sheep slaying gatherings.
Fatima brings us mint tea, as her husband tunes the tv into Russian news for some background noise. Questions pass back and forth discovering everything about each others customs, customs and when we will be married.
Cousins, nephews and friends join slowly as the normal midweek evening meal commences. Moroccan food aficionado, Fatima brings out two large tagine dishes one couscous with a range of different cuts of lamb, the other a beautifully presented potato, egg and tomato tagine. With family eating what looks like a black pudding of slow cooked jiblets and several strings of small intestine, no part of a Muslims precious sheep is snuffed at.
Apres food consists of my girlfriend having her hair cut by Fatima’s niece after a passing comment about not being able to find a female hairdresser in the medina, as I am entrenched in Fatimas’ son’s tour of his personally designed bedroom with over 1000 satellite channels and trouser press.
A completely unintrusive, welcoming and intruiging evening at what is the Moroccan hospitable mentality and something that can be experienced by all once you open your inhibitions and yes vocabulary to such an enchanting and giving population.
With bespoke and truly personal warmth of the managers/ staff of Marrakech Riads, your stay in the heart of the Medina will be one that is truly cultural and never forgotten.
The name El Mellah is used to indicate the walled districts that the Jewish population inhabited in the imperial cities and some rural areas of Morocco. The Marrakech Mella was adjoined to the palace of Bahia in the south during the Saadien dynasty as further protection for its valued inhabitants who made an important contribution to the local economy.
The present day walled Mella is a Muslim district inhabited by some of the poorest inhabitants of Marrakech with the vast majority of Jews having left for Israel during the 60s; leaving no more than about 200 or so of the original Marrakech Jewish community.
The Marrakshi Mellah however, as with other Moroccan cities, remains an area seeped in history, culture and distinct characters: the Jewish synagogue; the cemetery yard; the big spice stores; the jeweler’s shops, reflecting the favored trade of the Jewish people, and the numerous balconies which distinguish the area since traditional Muslim Riads rarely have external windows.
A short distance from this area of such deep and recent history lies the beautiful surroundings of traditional riad Dar Habiba. Located parallel to an elegantly local market street 5 minutes from Jemma El Fna Square, make your stay special here, in this beautifully interesting, slightly Jewish, city.
The donkey and cart is a common sight in the medina of Marrakech where the streets are too narrow for truck and vans. These docile and dependable creatures, known as ‘brill’ in arabic are essential to everyday life.
A Riad hotel in the Medina is the perfect base from which to explore and experience this ancient way of life at first hand.
There are an amazing variety of goods for sale in the Marrakech Souks, take your time to browse and you will find glazed pottery to fit any colour scheme!
Riad Papillon is a recently renovated boutique hotel in the most fashionable district of the Marrakech Medina. There are five luxury rooms all equipped with air conditoning, satellite tv with international channels, mini fridges, ipod docking stations, hairdryers, toiletries, comfortable beds and luxury bedding. Take a look at some rooms, then make your reservation today!
Riad Papillon is featured on VRBO
If you are planning a trip to Morocco don’t forget to book a stay in a Riad! Our Marrakech Riads have been sensitively converted to provide a taste of traditional medina life while providing the modern comforts you would expect in a boutique hotel.
The best of Marrakech and the best of Morocco is on your doorstep in a Riad. Reserve accommodation today!
Chic retreats members are welcome at Riad Papillon and are asked to please show their membership cards on arrival. With only five rooms and a commitment from all our staff to provide the best possible personal service you will not be dissapointed in your experience at Riad Papillon.