Rabat – Historically, Amazigh (Berber) girls tattooed their faces, feet, arms, and other body parts for beauty, health, and protection. However, as Morocco’s cultural dynamics and traditions exchange with time, globalization, and the effect of Islam in society, the ancient subculture is quickly disappearing.
Amazigh girls with tattoos nowadays have been born in time while tattoos were entirely advocated, celebrated, and a vital part of their lives. Within their lifetimes, the ladies witnessed a sudden transformation within Morocco and North Africa, wherein their tattoos, which once made them renowned, have become a supply of shame.
Tattooing is a historical tradition practiced in cultures around the arena. In North Africa, the way of life of tattooing dates to pre-Islamic instances, and Amazigh populations across Morocco have practiced it constantly considering then.
Historically, the tattooing aided nomadic Amazigh tribes in distinguishing participants of various corporations. Symbols inside the tattoos served as a unifying pressure, deeply rooted in each group’s records and cause. Beyond beautification, tattoos informed the memories of tribes, tied ladies to their land, and conveyed familial ties.
As a result of a new stigma because of the career of the French and the upward thrust of Islam in Morocco, this practice is now quickly disappearing. At the moment, the tattooed aged Amazigh girls of these days are the closing era to have taken component within the culture.
The motive and placement of tattoos
Traditionally positioned on ladies, Amazigh tattoo designs are extremely symbolic and are believed to induce fertility, to remedy illnesses, and to guard in opposition to spirits or jnoun. Much of the time, Amazigh tattoos are placed close to the eyes, mouth, and nostril. The markings, tattooed on Amazigh women beginning at a young age, acted as a rite of passage. After an Amazigh woman become tattooed, she has become a girl with the capability of motherhood.
Tattoos observed Amazigh girls all through their lives. The first facial tattoo is referred to as the “Diyala” and is located on the chin for fertility. At an early age, women also implemented tattoos to protect from loss of life and ailment. Along with critical milestones, along with the onset of puberty or for fertility, women received extra tattoos. Tattoos had also been used to convey one’s social or marital status and portray beauty.
Later in life, if a woman’s social reputation changed, her tattoos could evolve with them. If a female was widowed, she might additionally have a tattoo from one ear to the other, symbolizing the beard of her lifeless husband.
However, when asked about the motive in their tattoos in interviews, many tattooed girls and their circle of relatives individuals advised Morocco World News the cause turned into sole decoration and to make them stunning. Fatima, an elderly woman with many facial tattoos said her tattoos had been “the same as make-up.”
When requested about the meaning of the symbols on her face, some other woman from Khemisset, a metropolis east of Rabat, said they might be “only for ornament.”
The meaning at the back of the symbols
Many tattoo symbols have relationships with vegetation. The palm tree is a not unusual facial tattoo, drawn as an instant line surrounded through dots that constitute seeds. It is placed between the bottom lip and chin of a female as a “style.”
The tattoo correlates with the Carthaginian goddess Tanit, who is the fertility, warfare, and lunar goddess to the Amazigh humans. The tattoo is an image of fertility and seemed like one of the most lovely symbols a woman could have on her face.
Tattoos regarding the animal world are correlated with female sexuality. Additionally, tattoos with diamond shapes, which includes the attention or flower, had been seen as a supply of safety towards evil spirits.
One of the most crucial aspects of the designs became the manner they connected ladies as they had been handed from mom to daughter and among generations.
The tattooing technique
A tattoo artist, commonly a center-aged woman from within or close to a girl’s city, came every so often to tattoo the younger women of different villages. Tattoo mistresses would have their very own signature twist at the designs unique to the artist and region. When tattooing, the artist used the possibility to deliver advice, solution questions, and percentage information with the lady being tattooed.
The ladies tattoo artists created the ink for the tattooing in several methods. One of the maximum not unusual of these preparations become to squeeze the leaves of extensive (fava) beans. Along with the dye, the tattooist might additionally use sharp needles, incense, black coal, and aromatic herbs.
However, this supportive tattooing manner was now not continually the case. One elderly woman, Hama, who spoke to MWN in Khemisset, said that a tattoo artist came to her city and forcefully tattooed her face regardless of her cries for help. She turned into handiest 12 years vintage, and after the stumble, upon she ended up with a tattoo between her eyebrows and a line down her chin for the relaxation of her lifestyles.
The impact of the French career
The function of tattoos commenced shifting at the beginning of the 20th century with the French career of Morocco. For a few Amazigh girls, the profession encouraged them to get tattoos, due to the fact they believed that the tattoos could protect them from rape.
According to Professor Ahmed Aassid, at some point of the time of the French colonization, ladies used tattoos to show their independence and exert freedom. The tattoos were extensively utilized to inspire Moroccan men to paintings tougher.
During the occupation, the French installed brothels round Morocco and abducted Amazigh women from rural regions to work as prostitutes in these brothels. Since most of the Amazigh women had tattoos, a relationship grew between prostitution and facial tattoos. Slowly, Moroccan society started to judge girls with facial tattoos, associating them with prostitution.
Islam and tattoos
Another issue inside the eradication of the practice of tattooing in Amazigh culture became the present day Islamization of Morocco.
Following the Iranian revolution in 1979, Middle Easterners, in particular, stimulated using the extraordinarily conservative Salafi department of Islam, were encouraged via King Hassan II to travel round Morocco to counter the effect of the left wing. According to Amazigh professional Michael Peyron, as a part of the Salafi preachings, the teachers conveyed that tattoos have been “haram” and therefore forbidden.
The instructors who were skilled in Saudi Arabia encouraged a rigorous, fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. While Wahhabism existed in Morocco for the reason that nineteenth century, it did now not gain from government assist till the 1980s. During their teachings, similarly to condemning tattoos, the teachers additionally preached approximately the significance of wearing the hijab, in flip extensively impacting the exercise of wearing the hijab in Morocco.
Although in the Qur’an there may be no point out of tattooing, one hadith, or story approximately the Prophet Muhammad, does condemn the exercise. According to the hadith Sahih al-Bukhari, narrated by way of Abu Hudhayfa, “The Prophet cursed the one who does tattoos and the only who has a tattoo accomplished.” This is due to the fact the procedure of tattooing adjustments the body, for that reason altering God’s advent.
Another claim in opposition to the tradition is that tattoos prevent water from reaching the skin and in turn obstruct “wudu” or the ritual ablutions of purification. However, in reality, tattooing is carried out numerous layers beneath the pores and skin, so it does not affect the water touching the pores and skin.
Despite Islam being the main reason the lifestyle has disappeared, tattooing has been traced to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, while most ladies were tattooed. Lalla Fatima Zahra, the daughter of the prophet, probably wore the Diyala tattoo on her chin.
According to Amazigh activist, Ahmed Assad, in regions with nonsecular influence, the culture not continues due to the fact tattoos are seen as “haram.” However in a few areas with much less religious have an effect on like Khenifra in the crucial Middle Atlas Mountains, the Zayanes Amazigh populace maintains the lifestyle.
Amazigh ladies with tattoos today
Since the mid-Eighties, the tradition of tattooing has ceased to preserve in a maximum of Morocco. The disappearance of the way of life isn’t always simplest connected to the French profession of Morocco and the role of Islam, however also to urbanization and modernization of Moroccan society. Traditional tattoos, inclusive of those of Amazigh women are visible as unbecoming and non-cutting-edge.
In turning faraway from traditional Amazigh tattoos, Moroccan ladies now channel this form of expression and beauty through henna. Additionally, a few kids in Morocco are turning to modern symbols, notwithstanding it being “haram.”
In city areas of Morocco, inclusive of Rabat or Casablanca, it’s far rare to peer ladies with facial or body tattoos. Some ladies, particularly those in large towns, have opted to get their tattoos removed thru a painful and steeply-priced manner.
In rural areas, the tattooing culture rarely continues. There are not young women getting tattoos in most regions, but the various ladies inside the older era nevertheless have the tattoos on their faces, fingers, and ft.
Several ladies MWN spoke to in the town of Khemisset said that they were happy with their tattoos and thought they were beautiful, but now they are deeply ashamed of them and feel guilty due to the fact their tattoos are “haram.” Fatima in Khemisset said she feels responsible and believes having the symbol is like a crime.
Husbands and families who encouraged or compelled ladies to get tattoos at a young age now advocate they get their tattoos removed or protected. Tattoo symbols which have been handed down between generations will now not preserve past their skin.
The culture of tattooing connects the Amazigh humans of Morocco to many communities of indigenous humans worldwide who use tattooing as a form of expression, healing, and protection. Around the sector, traditions of indigenous businesses face the developing chance of globalization and modernization, which has in flip led to the disappearance of many indigenous tribes and practices. In Morocco and North Africa, that is no distinctive.
It is as much as the Moroccan people to determine what will be lost with the cease of a centuries-antique subculture. How will Morocco keep the pics, symbols, purposes, and memories of the tattooed Amazigh girls for the destiny? How will Morocco protect the historical traditions that remain?.