Tag Archives: berber

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 …

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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 …

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Marrakech Madness

Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech

Today I visited Riad Art Expo (now in its 7th year). I found some very nice decorative tadelakt lamps and other items, plus lovely hand embroidered towels made in the Fes style. Tadelakt is a bright, waterproof lime plaster which is found in the valley between the High and Middle Atlas Mountains; it was traditionally used on the walls of Marrakech and the underground cisterns, and became highly prized in hammams and royal palaces. More recently it has been a contemporary craze as an alternative to tiles in bathrooms in the US and Europe. It seems that every riad and dar in Morocco has tadelakt bathrooms.

Love it or hate it the heart of Marrakech is Djemaa el Fna which is a huge square in the heart of the medina. Whilst I could do without the snake charmers, the fresh orange juice, dry fruit stalls and traditional dancers are great. There are …

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  • 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.

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