Friday, 10 May 2013

Hamadsha: More Trance Music from Morocco

Along the Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid there is a tiny shop where a smartly dressed old gentleman makes and repairs ouds, banjos and violins.  Inside the shop are banks of old hi-fi equipment and large numbers of old records and cassettes which are not for sale.  Whilst chatting with the old man (in my stilted French) I asked whether he had copies of any Hamadsha ceremonies.  Surprised by my request, he turned and started to pull old shoe boxes full of tapes from shelves at the back of the shop.  After a time he found what he was looking for - an old tape in a plain box with no cover.  He said he would make a copy of the tape and that I should come back for it the next day.  I returned the next day and gave the man some dirhams in return for the newly copied cassette.

I can give you no imformation about this music, but below is an extract from Vincent Crapanzano's 1973 book, The Hamadsha: A Study in Moroccan Ethnopsychiatry:
A square in front of the tomb of Sheikh al-Karnal in Meknes was just beginning to fill up with townsmen, families from the nearby shantytowns, and a few Berber and Arab tribesmen when we arrived at 2:45 on a Friday afternoon in January.  We were immediately surrounded by children - whom we had to fend off, sometimes violently, as they gaped and grabbed with curiosity at us.  In one corner of the square a line of beggar women, huddled together, were blankly watching a woman prance around to the wailing of four or five singers, hawking blessings for a few francs.  Near them, a tiny, wizened old man, dressed in a white tunic, was neatly laying out a plastic tablecloth.  He sat down on it, held up his staff between his legs, and wept.  He was generally ignored.  A circle of children had formed around another man who bandied a stick and shouted at them, and occassionally pulled open his shirt and puffed out his lungs through a round hole in his chest.  Here and there crowds were starting to press around candy and orange vendors, con men and tricksters, story tellers and preachers, dancers and fortune-tellers.  In the corner closest to the tomb of their saint, Sheikh al-Karnal, the founder of the famed brotherhood of the Isawiyya and the patron of Meknes, a group of adepts began their dance.  As we moved through the crowd to watch them, we were suddenly attracted by the sound of the oboe known as the ghita and were told that the Hamadsha, whom we had come to see, were about to start their performance.
We were greeted warmly by Ali, a denizen of the nearby shantytown whom we had met earlier in the day when he chased children from our car with a big stick.  He shook our hands over and oevr again while the rest of the Hamadsha prepared their instruments.  There were nine in all: three guwwala who played a large pottery drum shaped like and hourglass; one tabbal who played a snare drum, two ghiyyata who played the oboe; two money collectors, Ali and another man who reminded me of a New England church usher; and a dance leader, or muqaddim.  The drummers were tightening their drums over a paper and cardboard fire as the ghiyyata tuned their instruments.  Ali began to recite a prayer, or fatha, and to ask for money from the spectators who had gathered in a circle around the Hamadsha.  He had a showman's sense of gesture and timing.
Suddenly the ghiyyata began to play.  It was 3:11 pm.  The crowd of men, women and children pressedinward and were violently pushed back by Ali and the "usher" until a semi-circle was formed, with the musicians at one end, against the wall of the square, and a group of ten or eleven men standing shoulder to shoulder opposite them.  The men raised themselves up on their toes and pounded down hard on their heels to the rhythm of the drums.  At the same time, they raised and lowered their shoulders in a sort of ongoing shrug and hissed out air, occassionally chanting "Allah! Allah! Allah te eternal! Allah the adorable!"  The muqaddim, a yellow-faced man dressed in a bright green acetate robe, danced directly in front of them, encouraging those who had fallen out of rhythm,  Sometimes he would jump in the air, spin around, and land hard on his heels.  At other times he  would leap into the air and, as he landed, bring his outstretched fists in against his chest as though he were lancing himself.  And at still other times he would pound his chest with his fists in a sort of breast-stroke motion.
Almost immediately after the line of male dancers had formed, two women, one in a pale blue jallaba and the other in a black one, pushed their way through the crowd and began to dance directly in front of the ghiyyata.  They did not move their feet as the men did, but instead bobbed up and down from the waist, their heads nearly hitting the ground, or swayed their bodies back and forth in much the motion that Arab women use to wash their floors.  Their hair had come loose and was flying in all directions.  They reminded me of ancient maenads.  Two other women joined them: all the women seemed to fall into trance much more quickly, and easily, than the men.
By 3:30 there were four women dancing and the line of men had grown to 21.  There must have been between 200 and 300 spectators standing in the circle and perched on the walls of the square.  Ali and the "usher" made the rounds, collecting - almost extracting - a few francs from each of the spectators.  The drumming remained constant, or so it seemed to me; it was the ghita which was producing the variations in sound. The drumming, by this time, had begun to have a dulling effect on me, and the music of the ghita an irritating one.  I noticed that many of the spectators, especially those nearest the ghiyyata, were in a light trance or at least dazed.  Their eyes seemed glazed, fixed on the musicians or the dancers.  The smell of all the hot, close, sweating bodies was stifling.
The performance went on, without much variation, until a few minutes after 4.  Occasionally one of the male dancers would leave the line and dance in the center space, alone or with the muqaddim.  Usually such dancers were in an entranced frenzy and were not able to follow the rhythm of the dance very well.  One of the female dancers was led by a fat man, who participated only peripherally in the dance and seemed to be a sort of helper to the performers, over to the line of male dancers and made to dance with them.  This seemed to relax her, to "bring her down."
At 4:15 there was a hush in the crowd as an extremely tall man in white robes, with a gold scarf around his neck, entered the dance area.  A woman poked me and told me that he was a seer and a true Hamdushi.  A man signaled that he was a homosexual who played the passive role.  His costume was, in fact, effeminate, his breasts well developed, his hair long and curly, and his neck so swollen that I suspected some sort of glandular disorder.  In a few minutes he was deep in a "chattering" trance: his mouth was opening and closing at a rate well out of the range of voluntary behaviour.  His head was thrust far back, his eyes were popping.  He wandered, disoriented, around the center of the circle. Then the ghiyyata changed their tune slightly, and he was immediately "drawn" to them.  He danced before them, his back to the audience, in a way which was closer to the women's dance to the men's.  He seemed more closed in upon himself than the othe dancers, more separated from the audience and the other performers.  Suddenly he began to beat his head with what appeared to be his fists but were in facttwo pocket knives, one in each hand.  The woman next to me whispered, "Aisha, Aisha Qandisha." Faster and faster he slashed at his head (the music too seemed faster), until his long curls were matted down with blood and his back and face were streaked with it.
Many of the men and women looked on dispassionately, but the children in the audience grew restive and excited.  More than one mother raised her baby high in her arms  to see the slashing.  The muqaddim began to dash frenetically around the perimeter of the circle.  His eyes bulging, he asked for a knife, but the "helper" refused and, pulling the muqaddim toward him, took the leader's head under his arm and scratched it.  When the muqaddim finally regained his senses, the helper kissed him on the cheek and released him.  By this time the head-slasher had stopped and was seated in a corner near some women, a very pained expression on his face.  The musicians continued to play the same tune and in a minute or two he was up again, dancing and slashing with even more abandon than before.  Then suddenly, unexpectedly, he sat down again among the women.  One of them began to bind his scalp with a pale blue scarf, another kissed his bloody hands and licked the blood that had stained her veil.  A baby was lifted over the crowd and handed to the slasher, who kissed him.  A third woman smeared a little blood on the baby's stomach.  The slasher no longer looked pained; his expression was now radiant.
It was now 4:35.  The musicians had changed their tune, and the dance seemed calmer to me.  Twenty men were still pounding and hissing in their line.  Several women had danced though the head-slashing scene, quite oblivious to it; one of them, a woman in black, had been bobbing up and down since the beginning of the performance, and hour and a half before.  The rest of the dance seemed very unreal to me.  I felt very distant, very removed from what was going on in front of me.
At 4:55 the ghiyyata blew two or three long, wailing blasts, and the performance was over.  A few of the performers shook hands while the crowd dispersed.  Several women came up to the slasher to ask his blessing.  The 'Isawa, the followers of Sheikh al-Kamal were still dancing in their corner, but they had drawn a much smaller crowd than the Hamadsha.  We were told that the Miliana, the followers of an Algerian saint who specialize in playing with and eating fire, had also performed, as well as a branch of the 'Isawiyya that charm snakes.

Friday, January 12, 1968
Sheikh al-Kamal, Meknes
Morocco

Get it HERE.

56 comments:

Hammer said...

Greets, Mr. T:
The cassette you've included for download is a H'mdoucha (Hamdouchia) that has no ghaita (oboe) or t'bal (drum) in it, unlike other Hamdouchias that often can include a group dance, a hadra, and some miracle-performing and sacrificial acts and depend heavily on these two instrus.

It's an old cassette, no doubt about it, that belongs to those 'rootier' times of early H'mdoucha commercial recordings as they became popular and record companies in Morocco began to offer the west in the 70's a taste of the music as ethnomusicology became popular back at those times.

The book (or, this excerpt taken from it...) describes in detail the hadra/jadbha feasts (Note: on a coming comment, I will describe this further on for the pleasure of your readers), while the recording is strictly a laila H'mdoucha (Night of L'Hamdouchia) which is very similar to Gnawa and Âissawiya (in fact, both Hamdouchia and Âissawiya intermix and can become almost one and the same playable rhythm).

Gnawa is not dissimilar to H'mdouchia, especially when a leader (called l'mqadem) sings it with a t'bal and a ghaita (called, Jebalah meaning, one which is performed in the mountainous regions), or strictly L'knawiyah bel ghaitah which is basically a gnawa laila played using only a ghaita and a hajhouj/santir.

Such songs that use ghaitas as the main instrument are called g'haitat, and this is just another famous Moroccan music style like that of Âitat, Teriyah, Hayti, etc. that all include a ghaita employed smartly to harmonise the general atmosphere of the tune of the song when, originally, none was played using a ghaita.

Well, if one goes back in time to say one hundred years ago, both ghaitas and t'bal weren't used in any Moroccan festivities, and they became popular as 'gap-filler' music instruments only because of their loudness and were played by men until the singing women came in and took the lead in such a festival like the Eid Al-Adha/L'kbier, being played non-stop starting from midday until early sunrise.


Until I can have the necessary time to comment again with a more elaborate introduction to Hamdouchia at large, I hope your readers can enjoy this small MP3 track by L'mqadem Abderrahim Amrani L'Marrakshi - Wasslah H'mdouchia which does sync wonderfully with the book's atmosphere you quoted in the post itself...

This is the downloadable file-link:
http://www.mediafire.com/?zk36va7v961dy4n

Thanks and yes, great Moroccan music as usual.

Dig, braw.

H.H.

Mr Tear said...

Hi Hammer, thanks for all the amazing context. Very interesting stuff.
When I posted the tape I knew the music was different to that described in the text, but I could find little info in English on the Hamadsha brotherhood. The book looks like its worth further reading.
Just downloading the file you posted now - looking forward to hearing it
Are the ghaita's are the big oboes that are used by the Gnawa at the opening of the festival in Essaouira?
Stay well Hammer and thanks for sharing.

Hammer said...

No, they are not. The longer ones are used in the ritual of Âissawiya and are called al-nafir (or, al-naffar; 1-metre plus long, white-mettalic copper long oboe), and mizmar (40cm-long oboe) in addition to bouq, which is used in Gnawa as well. In Jemaa El-Fina, for example, certain 'halaikyah' or circle-sufist people sit and play theirs for hours.

The ghaita (Arabic: غايطة/غيطة, also spelled as algaita, ghayta, gheitha) is a short double-reed surnai which comes equipped with a round mouthpiece. Ghaitas were named after small flowers that look like these oboes and grow around most of Morocco (esp. Chaouian region). These flowers are dried and used as a herbal high by locals.

The player is referred to as el-ghaiat/ghayat.

Photos: http://www.hamadcha-fez.com/photo.htm


Note: I will expound further on the little-explained style of H'mdoucha in no time.

H.H.

Hammer said...

Hamdouchia – A Historical Background:
Sidi Ali Bin Hamdouch tomb is located in the Qiyyadah Al- Mghassiyine; a perched-on-a-hill, difficult to access townlet of 4,000 inhabitants which sits 15-kilometres from the Meknes oasis town of Tafilalt, and less than 12-kilometres from Moulay Idriss city, known as the first Islamic capital city in Morocco situated at the Zerhun mountain range, extending over an area of 275km.
Sidi Ali Bin Mohammed Bin Hamdouch Bin Umran Al-Cherif Al-Alami Al-Aroussi is considered one of the most revered shieoukh of al-jathb (trance) in the whole of Morocco. He learned his Sufist traditions by way of a wali (man of miracles) Al-Saleh Sidi Mohammed whose nickname was Al-Hafian (‘the Barefoot’), whom again was taught the tradition through his father Sidi Mohammed F’tha, who’s also called Abu-Ubeid Al-Sharqi Dufein Abu-Al-Ja’ad.
The zaouiyah of Sidi Hamdouch is located now in the middle of the Zahroun mountains. He lived in the 17th-Century during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismael. Among his many disciplines were Sidi Mohammed Bin Youssef Al-Hamdouchi Al-Barrakah, Al-Saleh Moulay Ahmad Al-D’ghoughi (whose tomb sits only 5-6 kilometres away from his master’s), in addition to many lesser known walis like Abu-Ali Al-Hassan Bin Mubarak, and Sidi Qassim Ouqhar, etc.
After his death is 1722 C.E., the locals build him a qubba (visiting dome-mosque), and some zaouïas and hujrat (sing. Hujrah and it means literally ‘room’), and the tariqah began by his disciple Mohammed Al-Hassnwai who’s buried in Meknes. The followers of Hamdouch started to flourish all through Morocco, and Algiers and ultimately, Tunisia.

History of The Visitation Site:
They are historically aligned to sufist traditions (called ‘ourf, or the ‘norm’), and slowly became a sectarian group of Djnn-related followers (Hamadcha), who worked miracles to heal so-called mamloukeen (the possessed), maskouneen (the daemonised), and madhroubeen (healers by beating) mostly made of self-flagellators (called ‘Dghoughien’ in relation to Moulay Ahmad Al-D’goughi) and have now moussems or seasonal gatherings especially on the occasion of the birth of Prophet Mohammed or what’s known throughout the Islamic world as el-mouled el-naboaui, which attracts the political elite as well as the commoners and the many tourists.
The qubbah or dhareeh (tomb in Arabic) can be visited by paying tokens to the owners and presenting a sugar platter (t’baqh) to the tomb of Sidi Ahmad Al-D’ghoughi, then the visitors descend to a hole that’s said to have the spirit of Lalla Aicha Hamdouchia; the Djni woman and light special candles on a wall that has her name, then after that they’re taken to Sidi Ali Bin Hamdouch qubbah which is rumoured to have a Djni court inside to punish those spirits that harm human beings, allegedly if found guilty by the owners as they would ask for a ‘fasoukh’ or a combustible mixture to remove the spell, and finally the visitors relax inside a spring called Lalla Aicha’s spring.

Cont'd.

Hammer said...

The Daemonical Side of Hamdouchia:
This daemonical side of Hamdouchia is actually what makes it attractive to visitors who have so many urgent needs when in the past, the sufi sect, or ‘taifah’ did nothing but read and recite quranic verses (azkar) and pray (known as Hailala, or adulations), and occasionally perform a trance dance. Now, it’s strictly black magic and some false promises of miracle-healings to lonely women who flock to the wall of Lalla Aicha Moulat El-Mourjah to perform incantations and evil spells against other rival women, in addition to the self-mutilatory acrobatic that are particularly Djin-related with a fully-designated l’mqadem l’hdeed (the iron leader) who leads the self-flagellation ceremony of sharp-tool beatings on top of the head performed after intense musical encores.
Luckily, some Hamadcha in the south still adhere to the non-miraculous side till this day, and some others are intertwined with the Âissawiya in Meknes that Sidi Mohammed Bin Iessa El-Idressi Al-Husseini (Shiekh El-Kamel; born 1467 C.E.) has started in Fes. Both the Hamdouchia and the Âissawiya lailas or nights are almost the same: azkar, followed by hadrah, then jedbha and trance dances.

The Hamdocuhia Offerings:
Near the dome-tomb of Sidi Hamdouch, a large tree is situated where visitors can buy some goats that are offered to the spirits, and can also buy gifts and small tokens of alleged blessings of the tomb’s owners to garner ‘brakah’ or bliss, and these are usually incense sticks (attracts the Djin who are said to have been created from smokeless fire) two white bee-wax candles, small trays full of henna, rosewater, sugar, and some milk (Note: all these items are also used to perform daemonic spills by most of the world’s cultures) all offered to the spirit of Lalla Aicha Hamdouchia while uttering pleads like, shailah ah sidi Ali Bin Hamdouch! Shailah a’Lalla Aicha! (trans. Something for the sake of God oh Hamdouch, oh Lalla Aicha!).
The ‘murjah’ (garden) which is associated with the spiritual idolatrical worship of Lalla Aicha is near the aforementioned spring that has seven water-wells and sits not far from where Sidi Hamdouch is buried. Near the Lalla Aicha wall which is covered in black soot, women bring candles to burn and incense sticks to light while mummering spells, or stating their needs as visitors walk through a jungle of underwear hung on bamboo sticks or on the rocks of the spring itself after having a bath as it’s believed that doing so would end bad luck for those jinxed with being single.
The site sees what amounts to 1500 visitors per day and an estimated 1000 goats are slaughtered daily, in addition to cows, camels, and chicken (only red and black). Most animals that are offered at the site are preferred to be male as this can bring also good luck to bachelor women.
Music is also used as an offering as shoufat (seer women) and homosexual men begin to dance with trays full of gifts bought by the visitors’ money on their heads. These homosexuals believe that Lalla Aicha is their idol as some myths contest how she was a saintly woman whose husband was travelling far, and as she fell asleep at one night in her tent, a burglar tried to rape her, only for her to transmogrify; transmutably, into a male with full sexual organs and thus, could overcome and kill her transgressor. This organology of Lalla Aicha is what attracted homosexuals to the site since the early 80’s, and made them an inseparable part of the moussem. Through ululations and shrieks the women dance and sing: “Ha hi jat Lalla Aicha moulat al-wad!” (trans. Here she comes, Lalla Aicha the lady of the valley!), while the homos are all dressed in women clothes, wearing as much makeup and jewelry as they could as they begin to trance to the jedbha music and the hadrah played by a Gnawan, Âissawiya, or Hamdouchia band of musicians.

Cont'd.

Hammer said...

Lalla Aicha:
The correlation between Aicha and Hamdoucha is determined by the lore that, Sidi Hamdouch wanted once to marrya woman, so one of his nearest disciples (Sidi D’ghoughi), went by himself to Sudan to look for her as described by his master. Upon reaching Sudan, he saw a slave woman shouting ‘Allah dayyem!’ (God’s forever), and bought her immediately, only when he returned, Sidi Hamdouch was already dead and the girl was shocked because she was to remain a spinster for life. She spent the rest of her days weeping at Sidi Hamdouch’s tomb until she got his blessing in a dream and became a miracle-performer herself. That’s the Lalla Aicha Moulat Al-Murjah according to Moroccan lore. Other names she’s become known by are, Lalla El-Cherifiyah (the Saintly), Lalla Al-‘Alouiyah (The Enlightened), Moulat Al-Houfrah (lady of the hole) Moulat Wadi Sebou, Moulat Al-Taj (the crowned one), Moulat Al-Hikmah (lasy of wisdom), Moulat Al-Shkour (blonde-headed, which contradicts her being a slavegirl from Sudan), Moulat L’qsour (lady of palaces) Moulat Al-Jerbah w’Tassah (lady of the pot and the tray), etc. Another Lalla is known as Lalla Aicha Al-Bahriyah (the sea-side one) who’s rumoured to have been alive during the beginnings of the 16th-Century when Morocco was invaded by the Portuguese. She was a saintly woman who travelled from Baghdad to Azmour, Morocco in search of one wali, or sufist leader named Moulay Bou’Sh’ieb Al-Raddad whose news of miracle-performing became something of a legend at those times all through the Arab world. She met him by chance in her hometown of Baghdad where he used to study Islamic scripture and hadeeth (Prophet Mohammed’s sayings and Traditions), but as they both fell in love theirs was denied and he was asked to leave to Morocco, only for her to follow him. As she was getting close to his town, near Wadi Umm-Al-Rabi’e she fell from the ship that carried her to her lover and died drowning. He was so saddened by that affliction, that he decided to stay a bachelor until his death and built her a tomb to commemorate her forever.
Women to this day, flock to visit her tomb to seek refuge and plead that they would get married in what’s called as the ‘Tqaf’ superstition. The women bathe in a spring called L’ain L’kbir (the large well) near the khoulwah (recluse) which is a small room, and they all leave their underwear near the seashore while stepping seven times over a burning dish full of incense thinking that the smoke would purify their genitalia as well as get them what they came there for.
Another, similar Lalla Aicha in Morocco has a relation to this, and she is also one with Lalla Qhandisha L’knawiyah who’s also Gnawan, or Lalla M’liekh Gnawiyah. She’s called here nonetheless, Lalla Aicha Moulat Al-M’jmer or lady of the incense burner. The story of Laila Aicha is never an easy one to trace, even some people who are presumably known of a higher ‘chourafa’ creed (enlightened religious ones) deny any knowledge of her story’s origins. She is thought of by D’ghoughien who are followers of Sidi Hamdouch as a ‘majzoubah’ Sudanese woman he used to own and she disappeared after the death of her master into the darkened valleys.

Cont'd.

Hammer said...

The Laila, or Hamdouchia Night:
After the slaughtering of the goats, visitors begin to wipe blood on certain parts of their bodies until the majthoubeen (possessed ones) can come to perform the night. It’s a communal celebration that even, people who don’t believe in such supernatural, miraculous powers of Djin come to see, or watch from the comfort of their house windows. Usually, the biggest night is one that coincides with the birth-day celebration of Prophet Mohammed, or mouled, where it attracts al-hal people (trance meditators). Sidi Ahmad D’ghoughi whose considered a khadem (slave/disciple) of Sidi Hamdouch has followers who start to sing and dance from the hole of Lalla Aicha at the seventh day of the mouled, one week after the moussem of Shiek Al-Kamel Al-Hadi in Meknes. The celebrators must bring so gifts bought from the souk nearby called ‘nafaqah’ or dowry, which constitutes of lamb, or goat meat, or some freshly-slaughtered chicken; red onions, dried apricots, raisins, couscous, and candy arranged in colourful dishes. The celebration at night begins only when L’mqadem arrives at the Sidi Ali district which is a very poor neighbourhood in Meknes. This season is very important because l’mqadem and his fellow dancers, singers, and mutilators know that during this week they can make enough money to withstand them the whole year. Some rich and ‘important’ people can never miss the opportunity of heightened states of trance and magic and they make sure to give these Hamdacha enough money to perform what they ask of them. Other less-lucrative lailat are held by wome shouffat, or a’raffat (seer women) without the local authorities’ permission so it’d guaranteed that only those with good relations to the people in power in Morocco can benefit from these moussesms. Local police gendarmes force are seen usually whenever a noise permutes out of a door at night which may be a sign that a laila is being performed in it.
The seventh night is when the those in power attend, along with l’mqadems of both tombs of Sidi Ali Bin Hamdouch, and Sidi Ahmad D’ghoughi, riding decorated horses and holding flags or rayyat, as the mob flock to wipe these for a blessing. As the inaugratory parade begins, some followers begin to break small pottery jars on top of performers’ heads to annihilate bad, evil spirits. The presidential palace sends also a gift carried by certain ‘Twarkiuon’, who are direct descendants of the early hamdouchia in Ottoman Turkey: a huge bull to slaughter with a green shawl wrapped on its head.

Cont'd.

Hammer said...

People start to crowd at the sight of the bull being paraded to get its presumed blessing as the owners of the tombs walk carrying placards that congratulate and send wishes for the King of Morocco on the occasion of the birth of Mohammed. Upon the bull’s entrance into the tomb of Sidi Hamdouch, a deafening sea of shouts and jubilant whistles and drums beating (Laghit), erupts from the ecstatic crowd as it’s taken to a small corner of the tomb to be slaughtered with nothing left of the it but the small green and black shawl that people can do anything to touch and get its blessing in the red blood splattered at it. Colours as these are also seen in the ‘chriefah’ (‘noble woman’, also called majzoubah, madhkoulah, m’a’mraah etc. all of which mean she is possessed, and usually act as the l’mqademah female embodiment of Lalla Aicha at the tomb itself). She is a chosen, quinquagenarian woman (non-fertile/male-form) who can be seen there sitting wearing black, yawning and burping like a man as stultified single women approach her to offer her some gifts kept in trays that are also wrapped in the same green-black colours. After the slaughter of the gift ‘hdya’ bull, the meat gets recovered and sold to local butchers for higher prices, who resell it to restaurants that litter the path that lead to the tomb’s place. Acrobats and self-mutilators begin performing their designated acts of skewer-piercing their bellies, hitting their temples with blunt swords repetitively, floggings, flagellations, and drinking boiling water (Arabic: lafrissa), etc. all lost amidst the barraging sea of green flags.
The village is transformed during the moussem multiplying its resident’s number by 10. Superstition and occult beliefs, sacrifices continue. Women screaming sometimes come tearing silence through the beating and shrieks of T’bals and L’ghita of the H’madcha of which most players would be already in advanced stages of their trance. These ritual-festivals are still attended today by a huge crowd of pilgrims from all parts of Morocco, where the spiritual and mysterious; the sacred and the profane rub shoulders sometimes. Superstitious patients spend the night in the confines of mausoleums to obtain the healing of a chronic or terminal illness, under the auspice of Aicha (Soudania) or Aicha Moulat L’wadi who remains, according to the imagination of the pilgrims is Sidi Ali—this legendary creature who has even more efficient and effective healing powers for some mental illnesses magical powers.

Cont'd.

Hammer said...

Here’s a good article written about the sect with some photos:

http://mukaloprod.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=146&Itemid=117&lang=en


Other Photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25989226@N03/4318482926/lightbox Sidi Ali Bin Hamdouch Tomb.

http://www.sawtbladi.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/1_781258_1_34.jpg Lalla Aicha’s Wall.

http://www.lopinion.ma/info%5C1228201112029PM3.jpg The Sacrificial Bull.

http://www.lemag.ma/photo/art/default/5169755-7714288.jpg The H’mdacha Celebration.

Enjoy reading.


H.H.

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Anonymous said...

hello everyone
when hammer writes "Well, if one goes back in time to say one hundred years ago, both ghaitas and t'bal weren't used in any Moroccan festivities," i've got to ask him where he got this information. double-reed instruments were known much earlier in the south of spain and algeria (with the turks and their zorna) i'd be surprised if they weren't in morocco too
i don't want to argue especially ( li fat mat )
TAWNATI

Hammer said...

@Anonymous:
The ghaitas were known in Morocco as early as the 5th-Century C.E. and all through my hastily-written comments, I tried to explain their importance in Moroccan music.

Still, they weren't part of the public festivities, as I said, or festivals. Early Moroccan music was tersely very restricted to what some Moroccan music anthropologists call 'smai'e', or listenable music and that was held in the privacy of homes.

Most of the outdoorsy music styles weren't even Moroccan to begin with (e.g. Gnawa was considered very Sudanese). Women also were allowed to only sing in public gatherings pretty much as Algerian shiekhat were in Rai music.

Almost all far-west Arab world music was strictly female. Some early Moroccan male musicians had even to wear make-up and effeminate dresses to be accepted as singers, and there are so many examples of these trans-genderic phenomenon in early, Moroccan music.

So, again... Yes they were there, but weren't used publicly unless played as filler music until the ladies came to sing w(who memorised the old, traditional qasid, or poetic lines very well and better than males who were majorly performers).

Note: I chuckled at "li fat mat" (What was, was). Lol. Very cute.


Dig.

H.H.

Anonymous said...

the first time i ever saw the 7madcha it was 7madcha 7amra.
why local people showed up wearing red i don't know, one girl almost got strangled to death. in the north with the oulad l-khalifa or the oulad m-jedba there are no problems with any colours.
i don't remember the drumming or the melodies. maybe some day i'll hear them again, maybe on youtube.
TAWNATI

Hammer said...

@Anonymous: Red is a colour that's aligned photo-spiritually with the forces who dwell in the farthest stretches of the white-light: red/dark-violet (black). The spirits or Djinn that are summoned by the music, drumming, and zikr (repetitive prayer) channel through the bodies of such oracle-like women and along with wearing such vibrant colours, the other ceremony masters can attract these spirits that help the performers with their miraculous feats (Note: The Djinn can see better in the earthly realm when humans wear these two colours; that's why Satan himself was always depicted in the duality of red-black when Djinn have other colours that we don't know of, really and Satan himself as part of the Djin is not red nor black nor does he/it has any colour that we know of. Some humans saw it, but these are few and very uncredited, if any).

Sidi Bin Hamdouch flags and most of the performers' clothes and attire of the Hamdacha night and hadra are all red and black. The same sartorial pattern can also be seen in Gnawa and other spiritunes of Moroccan music and the world over because these spirits are one and the same throughout history.

H.H.

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this just popped up on youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO1JPC8mrSQ

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