Traditional Moroccan Art and Culture
The traditions and landscape of Morocco are vast and complex with much of its history and traditions being shaped by Sunni Muslims in the 9th and 10th centuries, old Jewish populations, rural Donatist Christianity, and Roman Catholicism all playing roles in Morocco's culture and influence. For the most part, Morocco is classified into two components: Arab and Berber which are the two main languages and people present throughout Moroccan history. These cultures have their own distinct languages, art, and design, but in Morocco, these two ideals are melded together to create the traditions of the country today.
Moroccan literature encompasses oral and written traditions across genres such as poetry, prose, theater, and nonfiction. Most of the traditional literature found in Morocco is primarily written in Arabic with some forms of literature being written in other Berber languages, Hebrew, French, and Spanish. Currently, it is believed that written Moroccan literature was created in the 8th century beginning at the arrival of Islam with oral traditions passed between native Berber communities being the norm before that point. Currently, much of the traditional literature has become available and accessible to readers worldwide due to the works being translated and shared virtually.
Moroccan musical styles vary between geographic regions and social groups. Traditional Amazigh folk music styles include Aita which is a cry or lament popular in the Atlantic plains and Moroccan countryside, Ahwash, which is a collective musical form with dance, singing, poetry, and percussion that is often found in southern Moroccan communities, Ahidus which is a collective dance and song in the Middle and Eastern High Atlas, and Guedra which is a poetry, music, and dance style associated with the people of the Moroccan Sahara. Alongside the traditional folk music, there is Andalusi classical music which is a major genre of music found across the Maghreb region that originated between the 9th and 15th centuries in Al-Andalus. This just scratches the surface of the amazing music found in Morocco. You can also hear chaabi which is popular folk music usually found in markets, Raï which is a style of music that contains social and political commentary, Gnawa music, a mystical form of music and incantation brought to Morocco by Sub-Saharan Africans, classic Malhun music which is peaceful and associated with urban centers and other common areas, and finally Classical Sufi music which is music that is part of a spiritual tradition.
Visual and decorative art has a long history in Morocco. Art has always been a traditional element of expression in the Maghrebi-Andalusian region, and oftentimes the art even continues on into the elaborate architecture you can find across Morocco. Carved plaster, tile work, carved wood, and Islamic geometric patterns are typical features of Moroccan art. Another popular and well-known feature of Moroccan visual art includes the Maghrebi Arabic script. Some aspects of the script are codified. There have been many calligraphers over the years who have created new innovations while also keeping true to the root of the traditional script art.
Carpet weaving is a traditional craft that is done all over Morocco in a variety of different styles, depending on the region and tribe weaving the carpet. Oftentimes, these carpets are ornate and rich in high-quality materials with a design steeped in tribal tradition to carry on their legacy. These carpets are often handmade from scratch which includes hand-spinning wool to make yarn, dyeing it with natural materials, and then weaving it together. There are also semi-handmade and manufactured carpet weaving techniques available as well, especially now that these Moroccan carpets are popular all over the world.
Most iterations of traditional clothing for Moroccan men and women consist of flowing robes with hoods or headscarves and traditional slippers. These ensembles are often created from beautiful colors and luxurious fabrics to cultivate ornate clothing that has been around since the early days of Moroccan history continuing on to parts of the country today.
Jewelry is one of the standout cultural and artistic traditions in Morocco among Berber cultures. Berber women often wore elaborate jewelry made of silver, beads, and other metals and designs in the second half of the 20th century. It became a common identifier for Berber people in the Maghreb region.