Suitcase and World: October 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Four. ٤

Ihave been thinking of going to Morocco for many years now and always thought that it was the kind of place that would be fun to travel to with a group versus going by myself. At first, I was going to sign up with a tour company but after both my brother and my friend and colleague, Soon, indicated they were interested in going with me, I decided to make this a group trip.

Djemaa El Fna. ساحة جامع الفناء

Djemma el-Fna ("jemma-el-fahnah") is the main square in Marrakesh.

The origin of the square's name is still debated today, centuries after the square was built.  I have seen it commonly translated as "Gathering Place of the Dead".  I've also read an interpretation based on breaking down the words into their Arabic origins -  "djemma"  being related to the Arabic jami which is the word for mosque and either fana which means annihilation or extinction or fina which means courtyard or open space.  Put together, the name of the square translates to "The Mosque of Death," or "The Mosque at the End of the World".  However the name is translated, it doesn't sound like a place that any tourist would want to go to but it nothing could be further from the truth.  UNESCO recognized the uniqueness of Djemma el-Fna by inscribing it on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Berber. ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⴻⵏ

Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River.

The Berbers have lived in North Africa for thousands of years and their presence has been recorded as early as 3000 BC. Greeks, Romans, and ancient Egyptians have indicated the presence of Berbers in their records.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Aït Benhaddou. آيت بن حدّو

Aït Benhaddou is a ksar  (fortified city) which is a group of earthen buildings surrounded by high defensive walls, is a traditional pre-Saharan habitat.

As described on the UNESCO website,

" Inside the defensive walls which are reinforced by angle towers and pierced with a baffle gate, houses crowd together - some modest, others resembling small urban castles with their high angle towers and upper sections decorated with motifs in clay brick - but there are also buildings and community areas. It is an extraordinary ensemble of buildings offering a complete panorama of pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques. The oldest constructions do not appear to be earlier than the 17th century, although their structure and technique were propagated from a very early period in the valleys of southern Morocco. 

Architecturally, the living quarters form a compact grouping, closed and suspended. The community areas of the ksar include a mosque, a public square, grain threshing areas outside the ramparts, a fortification and a loft at the top of the village, an caravanserai, two cemeteries (Muslim and Jewish) and the Sanctuary of the Saint Sidi Ali or Amer."