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The Berber Culture

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Berber girl holding baby goat kid with herd of goats on Moroccan desertBefore you spend time in Morocco you may want to learn a little more about the largest indigenous tribe of Morocco, the Berber Tribe.  The Berbers are native to North Africa.  It is  estimated that there are between 30 and 40 million Berber speaking people in Africa. Most of them live in Morocco and Algeria, with some in Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Mali and Niger. There are also small Berber communities in Egypt and Burkina Faso.

It is more than likely, especially if you travel into the desert or the mountains, that your Moroccan guide will be Berber. The term Berber is in itself an interesting one. Berber comes from the Greek word Barbaros.  The meaning of Barbaros is barbarian, which is considered to be extremely offensive today. But at the time, Berber was a term given to anyone who did not speak Greek.

 The Berber people were Christians, Jews or Animists. Animists were people who believe humans have souls and spirits but that plants, animals and even the land is spiritual. They believed in a great connection between people, plants, animals and the land, a belief that is certainly returning today.  After being conquered by the Arab nation, the Berbers converted to Islam.  Today, the majority of Berbers are Islamic, with most Jewish or Christian Berber people emigrating, although there are still Jewish and Christian Berbers in Morocco today.

Within the Berber community there are various tribes.  Each tribe haas a leader who chooses their partners (sometimes the leader is a woman) and there is a strong sense of unity and community.  Tribes work together and although in the past there has been tribal unrest, this was a long time ago.  Everything to the Berbers has meaning and you will find many Berber festivals – the Festival of Fantasia, also known as the Game of Gunpowder, and the Festival of Marriage. 

Arts and culture are huge in the Berber communities, and as you travel through Morocco you will begin to recognise the arts of the various tribal areas. Weaving, pottery, jewellery and fabric design are usually undertaken by the women.

Music and dance are huge and fascinating.  Moroccans love their music, and flutes and drums are the chosen instruments of the Berber people.  Ritual and tribal music is heard at festivals, as well as at markets, weddings and any celebrations.  If you are lucky as a traveller, you will come across a Berber festival.  The sounds and scents are infectious.

You will eat a lot of Berber food as you travel around the country. Couscous is still a staple food of the Berber people, and Tagines (lamb, chicken, vegetable) are all delicious. 

We encourage you to talk to your travel guides, engage with the Berber people and learn about their culture and tradition. They have interesting lives and incredible stories and they will be as interested in you as you will be in them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Berber culture in Morocco?2022-10-03T12:47:14+00:00

The Berbers are the indigenous people of north Africa, and their culture is one of the oldest in the world. Berber jewellery, pottery, weaving, and henna art are all highly prized and have been handed down through the generations for centuries.

The Berbers are known for their vibrant colours and intricate designs, which often reflect their religious beliefs and traditional way of life. Each region in Morocco has its own unique Berber culture, but all share common elements that make them uniquely Berber.

What are the Berbers known for?2022-10-03T12:46:40+00:00

The Berbers are a nomadic people of the Sahara desert who are known for their expertise with camels. They have been herding and trading livestock for centuries, and today, many Berber tribes continue to live a nomadic lifestyle in the Moroccan desert.

Camels are an important part of Berber culture and economy, and the Berbers have long been recognized as some of the best camel riders in the world. They use camels for transportation, as well as for milk, meat, wool, and hides. In addition to their skills with camels, the Berbers are also known for their textile arts—particularly their colorful woven blankets and rugs.

How do Berbers celebrate weddings?2022-10-03T12:44:55+00:00

Berber weddings are a joyous celebration and an important event in the community. There is much singing and dancing, and the bride is the center of attention. A traditional Berber wedding lasts three days, and the festivities include plenty of good food. Guests often bring gifts for the bride and groom, such as jewelry or livestock. The wedding ceremony is a beautiful affair, with the bride dressed in her finest clothes and adorned with henna tattoos. After the ceremony, there is more dancing and singing, and everyone enjoys a festive feast. A typical Berber wedding feast includes tagine (a slow-cooked stew), couscous, breads, salads, and sweet treats such as baklava. Wine or mint tea is served to guests throughout the meal.

What are Berber tattoos?2022-10-03T12:44:18+00:00

Berber tattoos are a type of traditional body art found in Morocco. They are typically facial tattoos, but can also be found on the hands and ankles of women. The tattoos are made from a paste that is applied to the skin, and then tapped with a needle to create the design.

The designs are often simple, and symbolize important aspects of Berber culture, such as strength, wisdom, and beauty. Body art is an important part of Berber culture, and many women see it as a way to enhance their beauty and express their cultural identity.


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