Berber and Jewelry
Jewelry is very important to the Berber culture. The jewelry a woman wears identifies her status in the tribe: as a member of a clan, as a sign of her wealth, and as a symbolic protection for her well-being. Men, and children also wear jewelry as they are important talismans.
Necklaces are important, featuring talismans of silver, pink coral, amazonite, amber, Czech glass and West African ebony beads. These talismans are extremely important as they provide protective, medicinal and magical properties. Berber silver charms offer protection against the evil eye, disease, and misfortune. Silver is believed to cure rheumatism; coral symbolizes fertility; and amber is worn as a symbol of wealth and love. Amazonite and carnelian stones are used in determining fortunes, and East African shells symbolize fertility. Bracelets, fibulas (elaborate triangular brooches) anklets, earrings and headdresses are also popular pieces.
Many interesting symbols and patterns are featured in Berber art. There are scrolls, reminiscent of Celtic motifs. A small repeated “v” evokes a sprig of wheat. The symbol of an “A” depicts a man with raised arms, and is the symbol of Berber language and nation, the Amazighs. Another common symbol is the triangle, representing the tent and family. Motifs of animals, sun, moon and stars have supernatural powers. The Hand of Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Mohammad, is a symbol that wards off the evil eye. Any depiction of a hand represents the human creative power and dominance. The Berbers include these symbols as part of their culture and tradition.
Human kind has been using clay to create pots and storage containers since the time of the first known civilizations. Clay was hand coiled to make containers for food and water, in order to survive. As time progressed, so did the process of making ceramics. Eventually, a spinning wheel was invented for this very purpose.
There are different types of Moroccan ceramics produced: unglazed pottery, originally for domestic and utilitarian use; painted and glazed decorative ceramics, which were used as plates and bowls; and loose cut tiles.
In early Morocco, the unglazed clay pots were a necessity for life. Without them, you were unable to store water or food. Many of these earthenware containers are still made today, but for very different purposes.
Traditional water jugs are made merely for decoration these days. Sometimes out of black resin from the Thuya, a tree that can only be found in Morocco. The resin has a pleasing perfume smell and a taste that repels insects. This keeps them in demand.
The other glazed and painted types of Moroccan ceramics were always meant throughout history to be decorative, and sometimes functional. Moroccans use these ceramics to decorate the shelves of their kitchen for centuries. This is a great idea for those high kitchen shelves that are not easily accessible.
Ceramic plates and other tableware are rarely used in Morocco today for anything but decoration. Due to the large volume of imports to the country, the need and desire for these ceramics dropped. Fancy china sets and porcelain have taken their place.