People & Culture
The Moroccan nation
Moroccans are mainly Sunni Muslims of Arab, Berber or mixed Arab-Berber ancestry.
There are small communities of Jewish and Christian Moroccans descended from groups who arrived in previous times. Though it is not permissible for anyone from another religion to try and convert a Muslim, a Muslim woman can marry a non-Muslim man in Morocco.
GreetingsGreetingsIn this video… greeting someone has never been so confusing. There are many different ways to greet a person in Morocco and some are explained in the video.
The Berbers, correctly referred to as Imazighen (plural)/Amazigh (singular), hark from early nomadic peoples who settled in this part of northern Africa. Berber dialects (Riff/Tarifit in the north, Tamazight in the centre and Shilha/Tachelhit towards the south) are still spoken by around a third of the population.
In the 7th and 8th centuries, Arabs arrived bringing their language and the Muslim religion. Many Moroccans speak a colloquial version of Arabic called Darija, a combination of Arabic, Berber and French. However, modern standard Arabic is used in all written communication.
Since most of Morocco was ruled by the French in the first part of the 20th century, French continues to be an important language, used particularly in higher education, commerce and government. Spanish is also spoken in northern areas, reflecting Spain’s historic control over a northern strip of the coast and its continuing presence in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Crafts and skills
Over the millennia, this region of North Africa has seen waves of skilled people arriving on its shores – from early Phoenician merchants to Arab traders and later, Andalucian and Jewish craftsmen from Spain. It is hardly any wonder then, that Morocco is renowned for its rich artistic legacy and range of crafts.
Arab & Berber methods
Morocco’s tanneries specialise in Arab or Berber skills, some working on cow and camel skins, while others use goat and sheep hides.
Carpets, textiles, ceramics and carvings, as well as jewelry and leatherwork are all commonly hand-made in Morocco. Colours, techniques and patterns (mainly geometric and striped) reflect both Moorish and tribal designs.
Moroccan jewelry caters both for the Arab appreciation of gold and the silverwork loved by the Berbers. As well as necklaces, bracelets and bangles, pieces from the southern Berber communities include the serdal/headband hung with silver coins and khalkahl/ankle bracelets.
As with the crafts, music and dance reflect both Arab and Berber influences, often with the use of ancient instruments such as the flute and zither.