Marriage ceremonies in Morocco (1914) by Edward Westermarck

Marriage ceremonies in Morocco

Marriage ceremonies in Morocco
This illustration of Moroccan Berber. not from the book 

This book was published in 1914 by Edward Westermarck. the author of the history of human marriage. In this book, he illustrates the life of the Muslim Berbers of Morroco, their habits, beliefs, and superstitions.

Excerpt from the author's preface:

This book is meant to be a kind of apology for a serious omission of which I was guilty when I wrote my History of Human Marriage, over twenty years ago.

 In that book, I devoted only a very short chapter to the wedding ceremonies, and in my brief treatment of them, I almost entirely failed to recognize their magical significance. 

This was afterward strongly emphasized by Mr. Ernest Crawley in his theory that the ceremonies of marriage are intended to neutralize the dangers supposed to be connected with all contact between man and woman and with the state of marriage itself, as also to make the union safe, prosperous, and happy a theory which, as he himself acknowledged in the Preface to The Mystic Rose, was founded on Dr. Frazer's discovery of the primitive conception of danger attaching to the sexual act. 

For my own part I shall not here make an attempt to lay down any general theory as to the origin of marriage ceremonies, but shall restrict myself to the wedding customs of a single people, namely, the Muhammedan natives of Morocco, among whom I have spent some six years engaged in sociological research. 

These natives are chiefly of Berber race, although the Berber language, which before the arrival of the Arabs undoubtedly was spread over the whole country, is nowadays mostly restricted to mountain districts. The Berber-speaking tribes, to whom alone the term " Berbers " is popularly applied, may be divided into several groups. 

There are the Berbers of the Rif, called Ruafa, whose country extends along the Mediterranean coast from the neighborhood of Tetuan to the Algerian frontier; the Briber, who inhabit the mountain regions of Central Morocco and the eastern portion of the Great Atlas range; the Shiloh, who inhabit the western part of the Great Atlas and the province of Sus, situated to the south of it a territory the eastern frontier of which may be roughly indicated by a line drawn from Demnat in a south-easterly direction, and the northern frontier by a slightly curved line uniting Demnat with Mogador on the Atlantic coast and following the foot of the mountains, or, in some places, intercepting a strip of the plain; and the Drawa, who inhabit the valley of the Wad Dra in the extreme south of Morocco. 

As a fifth group must, from a linguistic point of view, be counted various tribes living in the neighborhood of Ujda, in the north-east of the country (At Buzeggu, At Zihri, At 'Amar, At Shbgl, At Lmdi, At Yiznasgn, At Ya'la, and At Ubahti). 

The Arabic-speaking people of Morocco consist of the 'Arab (" Arabs "), who inhabit most of the plains; the Jbala, who inhabit the mountains of Northern Morocco, north-west, west, and south-west of the Rlf, towards the neighborhood of Fez a group of tribes in whose veins, in spite of their language, there can hardly be a drop of Arab blood; and the Arabic- speaking inhabitants of the towns, who are often referred to as " Moors," although this name may be more conveniently applied to the Muhammedan population of Morocco in general. I have, during my sixteen journeys to Morocco, been anxious to study the customs and beliefs of these various groups of people, and for this reason chosen representatives for all of them, with the exception of the Drawa, as regards whom I have been unable to procure any reliable information. 

In this book the Ruafa are represented by the Ait Waryagal, better known under their Arabic name Beni Waryagal; the Berbers in the neighborhood of Ujda by the At Ubahti (Arab. Bhat s a) ; the Braber by the Ait (Arab. Beni) Sadden, Ait Yusi, Ait (Arab. Beni) Warain, and Ait Nder (Arab. Beni Mter) ; the Shiloh by the people of Aglu on the coast of Sns, the Ait Tame'ldu on the southern slopes of the Great Atlas range, the Igliwa inhabiting the district of Glawi in the same mountains, and the inhabitants of Amzmuz; must not be supposed that the customs are quite uniform even within the same tribe.

Some contents of the book

SUMMARY AND EXPLANATIONS- Various superstitious beliefs and practices connected with Moorish marriages, p. 319 sq. Omens at weddings, p. 320 sq. Customs springing from the feeling or idea that bride and bridegroom are in a state of danger, pp. 321-325. From the idea that the bride is a source of danger to others, pp. 325-328. Why bride and bridegroom are supposed to be in a dangerous condition and the bride is considered to be dangerous to others, pp. 328-342. Ceremonies are practiced in cases where either bride or bridegroom or both have been married before, pp. 328-334. At Fez, p. 329. Among the Ulad Bu-'Aziz, pp. 329-331. Among the Ait Sadden, p. 331 sq. Among the Ait Yusi, p. 332. Among the Ait Nder, p. 332 sq. Among the Ait Waryagal, p. 333. Sexual intercourse is looked upon as defiling and, under certain circumstances, as a mysterious cause of evil, pp. 334-338. Notions held about the female sex, pp. 338-342. The dangers to which bride and bridegroom are believed to be exposed, pp. 342-344. The jnun in many cases personifications of the mysterious qualities of persons or lifeless objects, p. 343. Ceremonies having a mixed origin, pp. 344-346. The precautions taken at weddings readily assuming the shape of joyful performances, p. 344 sq. Practices expressing or symbolizing sexual bashfulness, p. 345. Ceremonies expressing the antagonism which 

MARRIAGE CEREMONIES exist between different groups of people, p. 345 sq. Ceremonies are supposed to confer positive benefits on the bride or bridegroom or both, pp. 347-359. E.g. to make their lives bright and happy or to bring good luck or prosperity, p. 347. To increase the food supply, p. 347 sq. To make the year good, ibid. To facilitate the consummation of the marriage, p. 348. To make the wife fruitful, and, particularly, a mother of male offspring, pp. 348-351 (possibly 353). To make the wife remain in her new home or to strengthen the marriage tie, pp. 353-355. To make the husband fond of his wife, p. 355. To make her the ruler, p. 355 sq. To give the husband power over her or to make her a good wife, p. 356 sq. To make her dear to the bridegroom's family or to put her on good terms with her mother-in-law, p. 357. In many cases impossible to make a definite distinction between protective or purificatory ceremonies and such as are held to result in more positive benefits, p. 357 sq. Baraka as an element in the ceremonies connected with a Moorish marriage, pp. 358-362. Bride and bridegroom regarded as holy persons, pp. 359-362. Marriage enjoined as a religious duty, p. 359. Holy individuals or objects are very susceptible to all kinds of harmful influences, especially those of a supernatural kind, p. 360. The nature of baraka, ibid. Benefits expected from a wedding, pp. 360-363. A wedding looked upon as a potential cause of other weddings, p. 362 sq. The presence of friends and guests held to benefit bride and bridegroom, p. 364. The social importance of Moorish marriage ceremonies, p. 364 sq.

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