Tag Archives: berber jewellery

Jewellery That Speaks

Niello Cross Pendant

The Berbers wear only silver. It has something to do with silver being the preferred metal of the prophet. Archival pictures show Berber women completely laden with the most unbelievable silver adornment. Today of course, these images are fewer thanks to the skyrocketing price of silver, but still, jewellery continues to be important, not just for its decorative value. It has protective symbolism, it is the family’s bank, to be melted and traded in lean times, bought and remade in good. The jewellery a woman wears is a symbol of her family’s status and wealth. So, interestingly, the woman and not the man is the family financier plus showpiece and bearer of its reputation.

Design of Berber jewellery is strongly influenced by the ancient Berber script, Tifinagh, based on which Berber languages are written. The characters in Tifinagh reflect a simple geometry of corners, circles, triangles and dots. This abstract …

Posted in Craft Heritage, Morocco | Also tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Intriguing Berbers

Young Berber woman

Everything about Morocco is intriguing… especially to someone like me who has never been there. The gorgeous tilework, the latticed windows, the tadelakt lamps, the tribal kilims… ahhhh, I want to go there…. Now!!!!!!!

So, when Nisha pulled out piece after piece of stunning Moroccan Berber jewellery, I couldn’t bear it any longer. If I wasn’t going to be on next flight to Marrakech, I had to get there by another route. Feeling quite like the Ibn Battuta of Richards Town, I set off instantly… up the High Atlas mountains and through the stark Sahara, to finally come face-to-face with chiseled Berber men and gorgeous women bedecked, from head to toe, in silver jewellery…. So ok, Battuta didn’t go out in search of Berbers, but he did leave Morocco and ended up travelling the silk routes for 33 years, on foot and horseback. That was Ibn and it was the …

Posted in Morocco | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Marrakech and Tiznit

Touareg style Berber Silver Pendant

My last few days have been in Marrakech with a mad day trip to Tiznit which is the last major town before the Western Sahara. It was so worth the hours of driving. Most women were dressed in what can only be described as saris but shorter with the pallu wrapped around the head and over the face so only the eyes show. Others had on traditional skirts with white embroidered dupattas covering their hair and faces. All very different from the djellaba I had seen elsewhere. I so wanted to take a photograph but thought it too culturally insensitive. The silver was overwhelming in choice and quantity. It’s understandable but sad to see Berber families coming to sell their family silver (gold is considered evil so this is their wealth), presumably to buy the cheap “Made in China” goods being sold on the streets. I couldn’t understand the negotiations …

Posted in Morocco | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Bronze Lamps, Berber Silver – and Nougat!

Hanging Lamps

In Fes I went to the lamp store I had in mind from the last time I was here. I passed the Place an-Nejjarine that has one of the many beautifully decorated fountains and a restored fondouk that is now a museum. At the Carpenters’ Souk just next to the fountain I saw some of the extravagant thrones used in weddings; these thrones make our Indian red velvet ones look modest!

I spent the greater part of the day haggling and now have some stunning Moroccan handmade bronze lamps on their way to India. While waiting for the owner’s brother or brother-in-law or partner (I really do need to learn some Arabic or French!) I wandered off to check what the other stores had to offer. Nougat was what I found. The lady spoke no English but after discussion using a calculator (if you don’t speak the local language, don’t leave …

Posted in Morocco | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed
  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

    You can read about the reasons for closure.

    You can still browse some of the products we used to have via the category links above, although none of these are available for purchase.

    Relive our travels and stories by browsing our articles and archives from the menus below.

  • Browse all our articles

  • Browse our archives