Location: Marrakech, Morocco
An adventure searching for the perfect derelict Riad, through the constuction itself, to the end result (insha'Allah!)

Monday, 13 January 2014

Sacred Plant and Herb Peddlers

In Morocco, like in much of the Eastern world, smoke rituals are integral to certain ceremonies.  Plants are left to smoulder slowly, like incense, on the occasion of a birth, circumcision or wedding night.  A smoke ritual is an offering to God that he might bless the happy event, or to the spirits, whose good graces one is aiming to secure.  Smoke rituals are also meant to protect a house and its inhabitants from evil beings - the jealous djinn always ready to stir up a little chaos.

Infertility, loss of sex drive, impotence, the reconciliation of estranged lovers - it is all a matter of bewitching and unbewitching, and the women are always quick to fill the air with smoke from just the right herb.  It's clear why suppliers of plants and herbs for smoke rituals are so common here - their goods are essential when confronting the powers of the spirit world.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Traders of the Marrakech Streets

Street Trades are disappearing everywhere.  However, in Marrakech they still flourish and are often indispensable.  They are on every street corner. Everyone makes the best of their rituals and rules; its partly thanks to them that Morocco's roots remain anchored in tradition.  Its a country which looks bravely and positively to the future while remaining faithful to its past.

Take the storytellers for example.  Along the ramparts of the old city walls of Marrakech, in the public gardens, or on the famous Place Jemaa El Fna, you will find storytellers spinning their extraordinary tales.  Dressed in djellabas, they can be recognised by the ribbon tied around their head. In front of a captivated, gullible audience, they unwind all sorts of yarns: ancient stories of love, fairy tales and sagas of fabulous adventures in imagined lands.  Eyes wide open and mouths agape, children and adults listen intently.  Many of the stories having been passed down for generations over a thousand years.  The tale over, the raconteur collects a little spare change before searching for another audience to enthral, to transport to a far-off time and place. A dreamweaver, the storyteller carries with him myriad visions of the Orient.