Read alsoThe Monster of Lake Champlain
The monster of Lake Champlain has been spotted for hundreds of years, but no one has ever talked to him. Suddenly one day, he is spotted by a young girl in a kayak. When they look directly at each other, the monster knows that he will never be the same again. He feels the magic in the moment and knows that they will meet again.…
The document opens with an introduction to the Berbers of the High Atlas of Morocco, who speak Tamazight, a form of a Berber language which has a number of different dialects through North Africa. A whole section is devoted to the analysis of their segmentary type of tribal organization, and what has been discussed in the past by anthropologists interested in segmentary structures of social organization in past anthropological literature. The various mechanisms of affiliations and alliances, recognized by Berbers (Imazighen) in this part of the world about the middle of the twentieth century, are also examined and assessed as to their function and place in the tapestry of relations not just among the Ait Arbaa, but more generally among the Berbers of that region.
The presence of “marabouts,” saintly men such as Sidi Asdal, the local saint of the upper Tessawt Valley, and a maraboutic complex which antedates the arrival of Islam and has been incorporated into religious practice in Moorcco, are also introduced and discussed in a separate section of the book. The concept of “Baraka” (blessing, and power of blessing) is introduced and analyzed. Social order and the segmentary structure of social organization are singularly modified by the presence of these powerful saintly men with “Baraka” as opposed to the rule of elected, temporal chiefs, or “amghars.” A model of equilibrium, fluidity, and flexibility emerges from such a factor at the core of a structured, hierarchical society.
The ritual of Tazz’unt itself is presented, explained, and analyzed. An anthropological reflection on the importance of ritual, song and dance, rounds up the presentation. All aspects of the presentation of the ritual of Tazz’unt and its meaning for the villagers and mountain people of the Tessawt Valley are backed by a series of poems and songs which were translated from their original Tamazight composition into French by Hassan Jouad, and subsequently translated from the French into English by the author of the book, Helene Hagan. The poetry is essential to the actual substance and meaning of the actions described. In addition to the importance of the poetry which accompanies the prose of the explanatory text, the author had the extraordinary luck to come across a set of photographs taken in that valley, around the very time that this document was being written. These photographs were taken by two architects, Anne and Olivier Fougerat, who were kind enough to share their beautiful photography taken in May of 1984 in the Upper Tessawt Valley of the High Atlas of Moroc