Factors that Influence Voters During Presidential Elections

Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley is an attorney. She has taught and written various introductory law courses.
Many factors influence voters during presidential elections. The voter’s background, party identification and view of the government’s past performance are some of the important influences. This lesson examines influences on voter behavior.

Voter Behavior

US Presidential Elections: Why California Is Important For The ...Did you vote in the last presidential election? If so, whom did you vote for, and why? Many different factors influence voters during presidential elections. Let’s take a look at voter behavior during presidential elections. The study of voter behavior is an examination of why people voted the way they did.
Many Americans closely follow political issues, but studies show that most do not. Most Americans therefore make their political decisions, and voting decisions, based on factors other than the issues.
These factors include:
  • The voter’s background and identification with the candidates
  • The voter’s party identification
  • The voter’s view of the incumbent’s previous performance
For many voters, their impressions regarding particular candidates and political parties are deep-rooted. Most voters already know how they will vote, even in the early stages of a campaign. It is rare for campaigns to change the minds of voters, though sometimes a campaign can successfully sway enough voters to influence the predicted outcome of an election.
Consider the 2012 presidential election. Various polls showed that only around 10% of registered voters claimed to be undecided in the two months prior to Election Day. Of those 10%, approximately 40% claimed to be leaning toward a particular candidate. Also note that, of those 10%, only 61% were classified as likely to vote at all.


A voter’s background has the largest influence on that voter’s decision. Voter background means the voter’s social identity, such as economic class, ethnicity, gender, race and religious preference. Often, a candidate will purposely gear campaign messages to particular voters, using a theme that conveys sameness. This sameness can be based on the general background, appearance or even the personality of the candidate. However, sometimes voters identify with a candidate even without that candidate purposely catering to commonality. Either way, voters tend to vote for the candidate that seems most like them.
For example, 95% of African-Americans who voted in the 2008 election voted for African-American candidate Barack Obama. Of those African-Americans who voted in the 2012 election, 93% voted for Obama’s reelection.
In the 2008 primary elections, more women than men voted for female candidate Hillary Clinton. However, female minorities still tended to vote for Obama and Obama won the Democratic nomination over Clinton.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy was poised to become our nation’s first elected Catholic president. He won, with nearly 78% of Catholic voters casting their votes for Kennedy.

Top Five Applications for Presidential Election 2016Party Identification

Now let’s take a look at the influence of a voter’s party. A voter’s party identification directly influences that voter’s decision. By party identification, we mean not just a voter’s party affiliation but also a voter’s psychological attachment to a particular political party. Notably, close to 90% of voters affiliated with a political party vote for that party’s candidate in presidential elections.
American voters tend to learn and adopt whichever party affiliation most influenced their childhoods. Those raised in a family of Democrats usually identify themselves as politically liberal, while those raised in a family of Republicans usually identify themselves as politically conservative.
However, this is not always the case. The number of voters identifying themselves as ‘Independent’ is on the rise, though 89% of those voters claim to lean toward a particular political party. Note that these Independents are almost as likely to support a political party’s candidate as those voters who openly affiliate themselves with that party.

Incumbent’s Performance

Next, let’s look at how incumbent status can influence a voter’s decision. A voter’s view of an incumbent’s previous performance greatly influences that voter’s decision. Most presidential elections feature an incumbent candidate. Incumbent refers to the candidate who currently holds that particular political office. Since Obama was elected president in 2008, he was an incumbent, seeking reelection, in 2012. Because a president is limited to serving no more than two terms, the 2016 presidential election will not feature an incumbent.
Unseating an incumbent president is difficult. For an incumbent to lose an election, some of the voters who voted for the incumbent in the previous election must switch allegiance.
Many voters view an incumbent’s performance based on the state of the national economy. When the economy is doing well, an incumbent has a good chance at reelection. The incumbent typically enjoys support from those affiliated with his or her party and will also gain the support of many Independents. However, when the economy is doing poorly, an incumbent might still enjoy support of those who identify with his or her party but won’t likely gain the support of Independents.
 Source: Study.com

What is the Moroccan Identity?

maroc sasn complexes

By using the common Moroccan metaphor of “shlada” (salad), Living in Morocco attempts to figure out how Moroccan identity has evolved.
Shlada. It’s an Arabic word I learned early on in my time in Morocco, but not first for what the word actually means- salad, but for its metaphoric use to describe the Moroccan identity.
My husband’s family frequently asks me what I think of the Moroccan people, society and culture. It’s a risky question because if I say what I really think and my husband translates word for word, I could easily offend them. But, I’m often too honest for my own good. So, instead of coming up with a safe and diplomatic answer, I tell the truth of my observances and experiences since my arrival to Morocco in 2008.
“It’s confusing”, I start. “I see the older women wearing hijab and djallaba walking next to their teenage daughters dressed in the tightest western clothes possible and a lot of make-up. The daughter, rightfully passed the age when she also should be donning the hijab herself, is encouraged by her mother to buy more clothes and make-up. While you hear the calling for prayer in the streets, a Muslim has forgotten every single lesson in humanity from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and is gunning for you from behind the wheel of his car as you are trying to crossing the street. I guess I expected something different in a country of Muslims.”
When I feel myself going down a ranty path, I try to add in the difference in scenery and cities. “The landscape of the entire country is so different. There are tall, snow-capped mountains and oceans of sand in the desert…tropical paradises and beautiful beaches full of lush fertilization in the rainy seasons. All the cities have their own personalities and the way people live in Casablanca and Tangier is so completely opposite to the people in small villages and even the desert nomads. The whole country seems to be about opposition right down to the very earth it’s made of.”
I continue on, “The gap between rich and poor is so apparent here. There are the biggest villas in Soussi while there are shanties not more than two blocks from our own apartment. And there is all this modern technology, but so many people don’t even have a shower installed or running hot water in their homes…people have the latest cell phones and wireless internet on their laptops, but not hot water? I’m sorry, but this kind of doesn’t make sense to me. ”
And, then I go back to the Islam thing. “Why do people litter all over the streets, ruining the earth Allah has provided while they are saying ‘smillah before making any move?”
I go on, “the Moroccan people are known all over the world for their hospitality, but among each other that graciousness and generosity is missing.” I feel myself getting ready to relate my hammam tales of the times when I’m identified as an American and the times when I’ve blended into the crowd. A much different experience I assure you.
I can say more about the many differences I see in a society full of people mainly originating from one land, but I see they are getting my point and I finally finish with “I don’t know what to say about the Moroccan people, they aren’t at all “bad”, but maybe it’s a good example of how Westernization isn’t always such a good thing. The contradictions I see all seem to be related to modernization…” I trail off then. And finally, after all the translating is done, I hear them all mutter one word, “shlada.” The Moroccan identity is like a salad–mixed up, chopped up bits of different things thrown together in a bowl. They don’t say it with any animated excitement as if it’s a good thing. They aren’t offended by my views. At least, they don’t seem at all offended by my observations nor does my husband relate that anything I’ve said has hurt they’re feelings. Nothing I’ve said is meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m just relating what I’ve witnessed and experienced here.
But, often the conversation ends there never going further into the idea of Moroccan identity, whether it’s modernization or something else that has blurred Moroccan identity to an outsiders view. But, as they move on to another conversation, I’m left wondering: what is the Moroccan identity? Was it ever something different or more definable than it is now? What would they like it to be? Yet, my family just seems to accept it and move on to the next topic of interest.
Do other Moroccans feel and think the same way about Moroccan society and culture? Would they agree with my observances and my family’s notion of shlada? If it’s something different then what they want, what exactly would they like it to be?

Source: Talk Morocco
Written by 


The origin carpet weaving by the Berber populations dates back several millenia. The hand spun cloth they created was named for the individual tribe, and they used natural fibers to create cloaks, rugs, and other fabrics.Image result for berber carpet designs and motifs meanings

Modern industrialized Berber carpets are distinguished by a loop pile construction type that gives a similar appearance to the distinct knot of traditionally woven Berber carpets. The modern carpets usually contain small flecks of dark color on lighter shades of background colors resembling a natural undyed version of the traditional carpets. They generally consist of a plain color mix with no pattern, and are relatively cheap and durable. Popular for areas with significantly heavy use such as offices. The distinctive knot texture and appearance of traditional hand-woven Berber carpets today are generally woven in brightly colored designs that are different from other oriental rugs.[4]

Handmade and usually homemade Berber carpets are still an active industry in many rural areas of Berber countries. Many Berber families earn their primary income from building-up carpets manually and selling them in local markets, merchants and tourists. Traditional Berber carpets differ from modern mass-produced Berber carpets that are usually found in industrialized markets. They often employ cultural designs and are typically made of natural materialsImage result for berber carpet designs and motifs meanings

Today, there are numerous types of modern Berber carpet made from a wide variety of materials, NylonOlefin fiber, and wool are the most frequently used materials, Except Tunisian Berber carpets and rugs usually called “Mergoum” which still preserve a know how inherited from ancestral weaving methods. Tunisian authorities are still controlling every piece to guarantee quality and that ‘Berber’ spirit in designs, patterns and symbols knotted so only wool is permitted with a total ban of any synthetic material, then each rug or carpet is sealed with a red wax sign (of Tunisian handicrafts authorities).

In other countries Olefin is the most frequently used and most affordable material, and carpets with blends of the different materials are also available.[5]

Berber carpet is highly durable and is often found in offices, schools, and other high traffic areas. It is stain resistant as well, and is generally more affordable than thicker plush carpets. To care about it is recommended by most professionals that Moroccan Olefin Berber should be cleaned using a low-moisture or dry cleaning process. Traditional steam cleaning with high alkaline detergents can cause potential pH burns in the olefin. These appear as large yellow or brown splotches. Yellow or brown spots also may be tannin bleed from the sugars in natural fiber carpets that are drawn to the top by improper drying usually caused by over wetting. There are carpet chemicals that can remove most of this yellowing or browning but they are very expensive, and it would be better to not get the yellowing or browning. A better, but more difficult, method may be to dry the carpet from the bottom. This method would generally require lifting up some of the carpet to install a carpet fan under the carpet, and using hot air, not just room temperature air. Regrettably, many of these stains can be permanent if not corrected immediately by a professional carpet cleaner. As with all carpets, Berber should be cleaned every 6 to 12 months to prevent permanent wear patterns.

( From Wikipidia)

Moroccan carpets are famous around the world. In the West, the tightly woven beige Berber rugs are found in most modern homes, schools and offices. Although these rugs are stain resistant their dark flecks of brown and tan do not compare to the thousands of intricate designs and colors of the traditional Berber carpets of Morocco.


Traditional Berber carpets contain distinctive patterns and colors and are woven from sheep wool or camel hair (you can also find them made from nylon and olefin material). The materials are hand-washed and naturally dyed from saffron yellow, to wild mint green, and from pomegranate and henna. These carpets are known for their strong geometric designs, and have been dated them as far back as the Merinid era. Carpets in the Middle Atlas generally have a traditional diamond grid.


The Berber tribes developed a variety of weaves to be adaptable to different climates. The rugs in the mountains have larger loops, are more loosely knotted to provide protection against the cold. In warmer climates the rugs are made with a finer weave. The carpets in the Middle Atlas were used as sleeping mats, and in regions with mild climates knots tend to be 2cm high.


Berber weaving is highly dependent on the female culture, and is passed down traditionally within the home. The young apprentice is expected to learn the the different looping techniques, patterns, color ranges and motifs. Historically women wove carpets for their families, and men traditionally produced carpets that were more specialized as professional masterweavers. These inspiring designs have been motivation for more modern carpet fabrication.

Historically carpets where a preferred gift for people in elite social classes and where used to adorn palaces and other sacred places. The more urban carpets have also been used at prayer mats and rugs in the hammam. Travelers who are interested in Berber carpet weaving should check out the Weavers Cooperative, and the Berber Carpet Demonstration, a famous exhibition. Some ancient Haouz rugs are also preserved in museums such as the Dar Batha Museum. These intricate rugs can be purchased from the tribes themselves but also in the winding souks of Fes,Marrakech and Rabat.

HaouzImage result for berber carpet designs and motifs meanings

Carpets originating in the hills and plains of the Haouz region do not tend to follow traditional designs or rules. In this region, the weavers stress the freedoms of the individual throughout the composition. The carpets have a distinctive style and are often captivating works of art.

Art Form

The bold colors, in depth patterns and weaving techniques of  different regions have their own distinct style. Each tribe has a signature pattern and commonly unfold a story, revealing acts of ceremony, or designs that often relate to fertility and protection. Like any other type of abstract art, interpretations can be better guided with additional knowledge of the culture, songs and legends.

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Located beneath the foothills of the Atlas Mountains in the heart of the Medina, Jemaa el-Fna has served as Marrakech’s main market square since its foundation in the 11th century. Around 1050 AD the plaza was the site of public executions, hence its name Jemaa el-Fna, which means “assembly of the dead.” Today the market bridges the old and new sections of Marrakech, and it continues to serve the community as a vibrant hub for trade, social life, and cultural expression. Like the city itself, Jemaa el-Fna has gone through extended periods of decline and revitalization throughout its long history. During portions of the 20th century the square was also used as a transport station, but since 2000 it has been closed entirely to automobile traffic. A lively source of entertainment for the local community as well as travelers, the marketplace functions as both a traditional market and an open-air stage for various musical, religious, and theatrical performances.

Image result for jemaa el fna marrakech morocco IMAGES

On one side of the square stands a traditional North African market, or souk, selling food, spices, carpets, brass and wood works, and tourist trinkets. By day, orange juice and water vendors vie for business while the number of buskers, snake charmers, henna artists, medicine peddlers, monkey handlers, and traditional Chleuh dancers gathering on the square steadily increases. All through the day, and well into the night, the marketplace offers an eclectic variety of services such as dental care, traditional medicine, fortune-telling, henna tattooing, and storytelling for children. By nightfall, when the crowd reaches its peak, the entire square transforms into a sensory spectacle, as musicians begin arriving in force and countless food stalls set up their smokers and grills in the designated cooking area.
The bazaar is well known for its hundreds of colorful umbrellas that shield shoppers, Image result for jemaa el fna marrakech morocco IMAGESperformers, and merchants from the harsh North African sun. Surrounding the square there are also numerous hotels, restaurants, gardens, and cafés that allow people to escape the heat and chaos of the market, while still watching over its activities. As a market, theater, and public gathering place, Jemaa el-Fna is a repository of Moroccan cultural traditions both ancient and new. In 2001, UNESCO declared the site a “Masterpiece of World Heritage,” which has helped the market continue to thrive despite the development and modernization pressures of the 21st century.


Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today onHalloween.
On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.
Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.
In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.
By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.
The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.
Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.Image result for Halloween images
But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.
Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose .The Haunted History of Halloween Candy
    Source: History.com

Explore Morocco Shopping In Souks & Markets

Imilchil_Marriage_FestivalTravel to Morocco & Shop the worlds best Souks & Markets Souks and markets are a major feature in Moroccan life, and among the country’s greatest attractions for Moroccan traverls. Each town has its special souk quarter, large cities likeFes and Marrakech have labyrinths of individual souks (each filling a street or square and devoted tone particular craft), and in the countryside there are hundreds of weekly souks, on a different day in each village of the region.

Whether or not you are a big shopper, going to a Souk is a cultural experience that should not be missed on a trip to Morocco. Find the medina, the central and oldest part of the city, and your journey has almost begun. If you feel slightly overwhelmed when you enter a lively area filled with artisan shops, aromatic bakeries, and excited shopkeepers eager meet you, you have found the souk.

When the first souks appeared within Morocco, they were nothing more than small areas outside the city for merchants to display and sell their goods. Yet, as city populations grew, so did the souks. Today souks have become an important part of the culture socially and act as the heart of any large Moroccan city. Some souks are seasonal or annual while others like the Djemaa El Fna market in Marrakech are famous for snake charmers, storytellers, musicians, dynamic acrobatic events.
Some of the villages or areas between villages are in fact named after their market days therefore it’s easy to see when they are held. The souk days are:
Souk el Had – Sunday (first market)
Souk el Tnine – Monday market
Souk el Tieta – Tuesday market
Souk el Arba – Wednesday market
Souk el Khamees – Thursday market
Souk el Sebt – Saturday market
There are few village markets on Friday (el Djemma – the “assembly”, when the main prayers are held in the mosques), and even in the cities, souks are largely closed on Friday mornings and very subdued for the rest of the day. Village souks begin on the afternoon preceding souk day, as people travel from all over the region; those who live nearer set out early in the morning of the souk day.
It can be helpful to be accompanied by a guide if it is your first trip. A souk can feel a little bit like a labyrinth, and it is easy to get disoriented. One suggestion is to find a map and get familiar with the layout of the souk to minimize chances of getting too lost. There are various sections within a souk specializing in a unique skill or craft. Examples include the textile souk, rug souk, jewelry souk, the fabric souk, the spice souk, and the leather souk.
Carpets in MoroccoIf you are in the market for a carpet that will not only adorn your home but contribute to its character, Morocco is a carpet heaven. An unforgettable part of any souk experience is a visit to the rug merchant. Expect to drink three or four glasses of sweet mint tea and spend at least half a day in during negotiations for one of Morocco’s top products.
To step into the store of a rug merchant is to walk into a den of designs, no two of them alike. Fifteen types of Moroccan rugs and carpets are found in shops throughout the area from the High Atlas rugs, made with 100% wool and dyed with vegetable colors to the woven and embroidered kellim rugs. Prices vary with the degree of work, from US$6,000-$12,000 for a High Atlas carpet to US$5,500 for a reversible carpet (with a summer and winter side) to as little as US$150 for a kellim rug. Prices are generally one-half to one-third of those found in the US. Arrangements can be made with merchants for shipping and delivery to be included in the negotiated price.
A majority of the carpets in Morocco are from Berber villages and woven rather then knotted on old broad loams. Some of the finer rugs with Arab designs can be found in Fes and Rabat. Moroccan rugs or kellims are particularly famous for their rich yarns and lustrous colors created from henna, indigo, saffron, and other organic elements.
Although expensive, Moroccan carpet’s high prices are justified in that they can last up to several hundred years. Depending on the quality of the carpet, the hues of the carpet may stay nearly as vibrant as the day you purchased it on your Moroccan adventure.
Moroccan carpets come in many designs. The woven kilims or Berber rugs are characterized by their geometric patterns and are the most expensive because they are made with vegetable dyes. Each tribe has its own unique design and pattern. The chain of Maison Berbere shops in Ouarzazate, Tinerhir and Risssani are good hunting grounds for a beautiful kellim.
As some Berber rugs can start at a more than a thousand dollar per square meter, you may want a cheaper alternative. Outside Rabat, there are many tribal rugs like the famous Zanafia and Glaoua rugs which are flat and fluffy. Other options include flat woven carpets, or pile rugs. Also available are Berber blankets (foutahs or couvertures) which are quite striking with bands of red and black color spread across them; for these visit Tetouan and Chefchaouen, on the edge of the Rif.
Jewelry in MoroccoMost jewelry in Morocco comes in high quality gold and silver. Silver jewelry went into decline with the loss to Israel of Morocco’s Jewish population, the country’s traditional workers in precious metals and crafts in general; in the south, however you can find some fabulous Berber necklaces and bracelets, very chunky and characterized by bold combinations of semiprecious (and sometimes plastic) stones and beads. MarrakechFes,Essaouira and Ouarzazate have particularly good jewelry souks. For gold jewelry, Fes is the best option.
Most famous is the silver hand of Fatima (Fatima was the Prophet Mohammad’s daughter in law) which is believed to protect it’s wearers from misfortune and illness.
Silver jewelry is said to be the characteristically Moroccan as it is often made by Morocco’s indigenous Berbers. While traditional Berber women continue to wear silver jewelry especially family heirlooms for marriage ceremonies gold has become the preference among them and also modern Moroccan woman as it is a sign of wealth.
Metals in Morocco 
Brass, copper, and silverware are the most popular metals to buy. As Moroccans are talented in this area, rest assured that almost any purchase made in the metal souk is of high quality. Various cities in Morocco specialize in a certain metal work.
For silver, take a trip to Tiznit or Taroudannt. There you can find silver daggers, encrusted items, and muskets; the most popular purchase is the pot-bellied teapot. Silver trays and candlesticks, brass frames, and lamps are also found in Marrakesh, Fes, and Tetouan. In Fes, you can watch the artisans in their element as they hammer and mold metals.
Wood and Pottery in MoroccoMarquetry is one of the few crafts where you will see genuinely old pieces- inlaid tables and shelves- though the most easily exportable objects are boxes and chess sets made of beautifully inlaid thuya and cedar woods in Essouaria.
Pottery is colorful and often crudely made however the blue-and-white designs of Fes and the multicolored pots of Chefchaouen are very attractive. Morocco’s major pottery center is located in Safi and boasts several shops filled with colorful plates, tajines and garden pots. Safi tajines are generally more decorative. The best for cooking are produced by the Oulja pottery at Sale, near Rabat, in plain red-brown earthenware. These earthenware tajines can also be found any major city souks in Marrakech, Fes, Casablanca, Meknes, Ouarzazate or Tangier.
Clothing and leather goods in Morocco Moroccan clothing is easy to purchase. The traditional dress of the country is called the djellaba (a kind of cloak). Djellabas come in three styles: Arab (large, flowing garments), Berber (with straighter lines) and Pasha (a two-piece garment worn for special events). The djellaba is a long, loosely fitting hooded outer robe with full sleeves. They are made in many different shapes and colors; generally men wear light colors which are important as this helps reflect the strong Moroccan sun, men also traditionally wear a red fez hat and soft yellow pointed slippers (baboosh) with a djellaba. Light colors are also available for women to wear but despite this, women choose to wear brighter colors such as pinks, blues and even black. The hood is of vital importance for both sexes as it protects the wearer from the sun and in earlier times was used as a defense against sand being blown into the wearers face by strong desert winds. It is not uncommon for the hood to be used as an informal pocket during times of nice weather. Djellabas are made of a wide variety of materials, from cotton for summer-time djellabas to coarse wool for winter djellabas. The wool is typically harvested from sheep living in the surrounding mountains and then a long process of turning the wool into yarn is carried out and it is then woven in the fabric to create the garment.
Djellabas are worn by both men and women; the men’s style is generally baggier, of darker colors, and plain. Women’s djellabas are tighter and can sport elaborate decorative stitching in a variety of colors. Women sometimes add a scarf. Modern djellabas are quite fashionable and currently being designed to appeal to foreigners and young Moroccan women in cities. These fashionable djellabas are often made of cotton, rayon or silk, are woven with sequins or made of damask with wonderful large patterned designs.
Almost all djellabas of both styles include a baggy hood called a ‘cob’ that comes to a point at the back. Traditionally Djellabas reach right down to the ground but nowadays they are becoming slimmer and shorter.
The Islamic religion of Morocco is also a key factor in the way that Moroccan people dress. The djellaba covers the whole body and is therefore an acceptable modest outfit.
Caftans, traditional women’s dress that often has tiny buttons on the front with a V shape are available in a variety of styles and materials ranging from cotton to polyester to silk. For djellabas and caftans Prices start at about US $25 and go as high as $600 for a special occasion garment.
Leather goods are of excellent quality in Morocco as they are hand dyed, most of natural vegetable dyes, sold in souks across the country and come in various shades of brown as well as hot pink, lime green, turquoise, ravishing reds, canary yellow and magenta. The classic item to purchase of leather in Morocco is babooshes (shoes) that are open at the heel, immensely comfortable, and produced in traditional yellow, white, red (for women) grey and black.
The best selection of leather goods can be found in Fes and Marrakesh. The city of Fes is home to an expansive tannery, one of North Africa’s most photographed sites. Purses (US$10 and up), sequin-dotted leather camel toys (US$3-5), and babooshes or soft slippers (US$3-$25) are some of the most popular items in the tannery. Outside, street vendors sell colorful billfolds embossed with Moroccan designs for as little as US$2.50.
Food Products in Morocco
There are a unique variety of food products in Morocco that are difficult to find at home which make excellent gifts and souvenirs. Locally produced olive oil has an incredible, distinctive strong flavor and in the Souss Valley you can find delicious sweet Argan oil.Argan oil is oil produced from the kernels of the endemic argan tree that is valued for its nutritive, cosmetic and numerous medicinal properties. The tree, a relict species from the Tertiary age, is extremely well adapted to drought and other environmentally difficult conditions of southwestern Morocco. The species Argania once covered North Africa and is now endangered and under protection of UNESCO. The Argan tree grows wild in semi-desert soil, its deep root system helping to protect against soil erosion and the northern advance of the Sahara. Argan oil remains one of the rarest oils in the world due the small and very specific growing area.
Olives in Morocco come in numerous varieties as do almonds, walnuts and spices. Morocco is notable for Saffron which is grown in the area east of Taliouine.
Cakes, sweets and biscuits are also famous in Morocco. Some of the best ones can be found in souks and also home made during religious holidays such as Ramadan or on the Moroccan New Year, Aïd el Kebir.
Source: http://www.travel-exploration.com

An Introduction to Berber Culture


In his speech on March 9, 2011, echoing the founding of the Royal Institute for the Amazigh Culture in 2001, His Majesty the King Mohammed VI evoked the “plurality of the Moroccan identity, united and rich with the diversity of its branches, and at the heart of which is Amazigh, the heritage of all Moroccans.”
The new Moroccan constitution, adopted in July 2011, rendered official the Amazigh language.
It was in this context that the Jardin Majorelle finalized a long anticipated project and opened its Berber Museum. Housed in a painting studio designed by Paul Sinoir in 1931 for Jacques Majorelle, it presents Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent’s personal                                                                                collection to the public.
Since my arrival in Marrakech in 1966, I have not ceased to be fascinated with Berber art and culture. Over the years, I have collected and admired this art which extends over many countries at a time. The Berbers have always been rightly proud of their culture. They have not ceased to reclaim their identity in spite of the vicissitudes they have faced. In Marrakech, in Berber country, in the Jardin Majorelle created by an artist who painted so many scenes of Berber men and women, the idea of this museum occurred to us quite naturally.  Pierre Bergé

The Imazighen (singular Amazigh), or Berbers, are among the original peoples of North Africa. Their myths, legends and history span 9,000 years, and can be traced to the Proto-Mediterraneans. They have achieved unity by maintaining their unique language and culture which are, like their land, both African and Mediterranean.

The Berbers of Morocco share this duality, reflecting the diversity of their nature and stormy history. Through close contact with other peoples of the Mediterranean, they created kingdoms but also vast territories organised into powerful, democratic, war-mongering, tribal communities. Both aspects of this sociopolitical organisation have left a mark on recent historical events and the country’s history spanning two millennia. As opposed to the pagan Mediterranean kingdoms of Antiquity, Berber empires developed inland and were Muslim. Judaism continued to be practiced, and the Sunni Islam majority gradually took on a Berber hue with its brotherhoods, zaouias, marabouts and rituals.
The roots of the Berber culture reach deep down into Morocco’s proto-history. They are illustrated by a strong link with their land, a sense of community, hospitality, sharing food and a specific relationship with spirituality. Its openness to many influences whether Mediterranean, African, Oriental, European, or international have helped define its current characteristics.

The Berber language, an Afro-Asian idiom, is a melting-pot of history and culture of the country. It has outlived most languages of Antiquity such as Ancient Greek, Latin, Phoenician and Egyptian. It used to be written but is now mainly oral. Although there are fewer now that can speak it, the language is nevertheless still used by a substantial number of Moroccans. A true symbol of identity, the language crystallizes political demands and unleashes passions. The recent recognition of the country’s Berberity would seem to signify a will to preserve the language for future generations, including its ancient alphabet called Tifinagh.
The exhibition is divided into three sections: (1) Know-how, both tangible and intangible, which transforms a great diversity of raw material into artefacts for daily or ceremonial use. (2) Sets of jewels that illustrate age-old beliefs and knowledge. (3) A sense of grandeur expressed in costumes, weapons, weaving and decorated doors. All these objects invite the visitor to appreciate the beauty of Berber art across rural Morocco. They testify to the rich diversity and creativity of this culture.
Jardin Majorelle

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