Berber Women of Morocco exhibition at Rabat National Library

Friday 03/07/2015
(Photos: Saad Guerraoui)

Rabat - After appearing in Paris and Manama, the Berber Women of Morocco exhi­bition is being shown at the National Library in Rabat.
The exhibit features coral wedding necklaces, ceremonial clothing and Berber jewels and carpets are among 1,400 pieces from the Berber Museum at Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, which is owned by the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint-Laurent Foundation.
Jardin Majorelle’s collection, which features items dating to the 19th century, is rich in history and culture. This “inexhaustible treasure can inspire designers” and “the proof was brought by Yves Saint-Laurent himself, who said he took the colours of Morocco,” said Bergé, friend of the late French couturier, whose ashes were scattered in 2008 in his famous garden.
Silver necklaces ornamented with amber, coral and coins besides brooches and earrings are the perfect examples of the art of an authentic jewellery-making that is associated with the Berber culture.
The khmissa jewel is worn by Berber women both as an accessory and protector from the evil eye. Khmissa, or the hand, is one of the most popular items of gold and silver jewellery among Berber women, historically and traditionally. It is believed to represent purity and hold magical and protective properties.
Berber carpets and throws made of wool are also displayed. The designs reflect Berbers’ use of bright and dark colours, employing cultural designs. Other items include headscarves from the Anti-Atlas and pre-Sahara regions made of wool and cotton and tainted in colours extracted from vegetables.
Dresses shown on digital screens illustrate the variety of Berber women’s dress, each of which represents a tribal identity.
“The dresses were made of wool until the arrival of cotton in the 20th century,” Sami el Harrach, chief guide of the Berber Museum at Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech told The Arab Weekly, adding that some tribes, such as Beni Sbih, no longer exist.
“Most of the jewellery displayed here was mainly worn for special occasions such as moussems and wedding ceremonies. The jewels were also a sign of wealth because poor women could only afford to wear iron or copper jewels,” said Harrach.
The exhibition opened May 15th and runs through July 15th at the National Library in Rabat.
Saad Guerraoui