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Traditional Moroccan Jewellery: Technique and Semantic Dimensions

Issue 58
Traditional Moroccan Jewellery: Technique and Semantic Dimensions

Muhammad Bueita (Morocco)

Although the roots of humankind's, and particularly women's, infatuation with jewellery are difficult to trace, they are as old as the human race itself. And so, in an anthropological sense, it became a main component of the human experience and an important symbol of identity and culture.

Morocco is famous for its women's jewellery. The ethnic and geographical diversity of the country reflects the range of civilizations known to the Mediterranean region in general. Therefore, this diversity and cultural richness created a number of processes for composition and manufacture, as well as a wide range of embellishments and aesthetic styles.

Every nation has a rich heritage that serves as a foundation for its future growth. This heritage may be intangible, as in social systems, conventions, traditions, and values; or tangible, as in handwork, ceramics, weaving, fashion, etc. that reflect cultural, social, and economic standings, as well as local cultural identity.

Fashion has played a crucial role in human existence since the dawn of time, evolving with the times and periods to capture the essence of emotions and feelings and serve as a symbol of relationships. Clothing acts as a conduit for the body's knowledge. Jewellery is also a significant part of our cultural history. Humans have worn a variety of jewellery since the beginning of civilization. Everything from ostrich egg shells to shells, stones, metals, and more has been used to adorn early humans.

 Moroccan jewellery is noteworthy because it represents Moroccan society's habits, rituals, norms, and beliefs, as well as the extent to which it is influenced by other cultures through its patterns and symbolism. This indicates the significance of the Moroccans' life and surroundings.

Jewellery expresses people's traditional way of life; it is both a key to their uniqueness and a civilizational guide that communicates aesthetic, moral, and spiritual components. Jewellery was connected to a spiritual purpose, which has been manifested in many sorts of amulets, invocations, and talismans that are placed in a piece of jewellery and worn around the neck or around the wrist, and which accompanies its bearer for life. in order to ward off evil, envy, and the evil eye (according to folk belief).

Traditional jewellery is therefore a reflection of people's aesthetic, historical, social, and even religious existence. Because of its historical and artistic character, it is also regarded as a significant part of the national heritage. What are the idiomatic and linguistic meanings of traditional jewellery? What are the most notable historical dimensions of it? What are the materials used to make jewellery ornaments, as well as the procedures used to make them? What role does jewellery play for Moroccan women?

This study looks at how Moroccan women in different parts of the country dress, as well as the types of jewellery they wear, their symbolic and semantic meanings, and how they can be used to communicate.

Two key factors motivated our decision to study these locations (Atlas, Souss, and Saharan region). The first is that, in comparison to other locations, this area has retained its customs, traditions, and cultural past. Another is that, in addition to the rest of the conventional industries, these locations continue to manufacture jewellery. Due to the nature of the subject, the study relied heavily on a historical descriptive (analytical) method to monitor the most significant improvements in Moroccan jewellery. Identifying the most important conceivable functions, whether at the raw material level or the geometric shapes that it has adopted over its evolution stages.

Metal jewellery is one of the most well-known types of traditional Moroccan jewellery. The oldest items date back to the late stone period (6900 BC) and have been passed down through the generations.

In ancient times, Moroccans used the shells of ostrich eggs as jewellery. They also produced jewellery out of shells and animal bones until minerals and valuable stones were discovered, at which point they used them to create one-of-a-kind pieces.

This traditional jewellery has gone through numerous stages as a result of the passage of several civilizations: Phoenician, Byzantine, and Islamic, beginning in prehistoric times and continuing to the present day. Every civilization has put its mark on the jewellery that it creates. Regardless of the differences in traditional Moroccan jewellery due to geographical area, ethnicity, and civilisation, it is composed of the same components and forms with minor variations. Because each location created its jewellery in accordance with its own creative and professional traditions, the variety of names and shapes of such jewellery has been linked to their multiplicity of symbolic and cultural connotations, as well as their overall cultural load.

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