When the Sun Clashes with the Shadow

A rambling sound of Sahrawi music travels across the dunes of Erg Chigaga. The journey through the largest and still untouched erg in Morocco. Captured on 35mm.

Sahrawis 

The Erg Chigaga desert is home to Sahrawis people, an ethnic group indigenous the western part of the Sahara desert. The life of Sahrawis is deeply connected to plants, animals and the desert land. The community produces carpets & ceramic, collects saffron and obtains argan oil. The women unite in cooperatives what has positive impact on social and economic aims. Another source of income is tourism, especially hosting travelers in the desert and organizing camel tours.

Most of the houses in the Erg Chigaga area are built from the mixture of mud and straw. The material keeps the homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 

The miniature handmade woolen camels are a great souvenir from Erg Chigaga. Some of the sellers wait along the off-road trails, meeting travelers in the middle of nowhere. Their lifestyle is determined by water and food sources.

Willing to learn more? See the stories captured on my phone.

pyro aquarelle

The Moroccan artists make their landscape paintings using natural pigments and fire. The yellow color is made from saffron, the blue one from indigo. The green tea, sugar and water give a brown hue. The colors are barely visible during the painting process. Only after heating the paper on a torch, a clear image appears. The method was used in the past for writing secret messages.

guembri 

A musician Mustapha El Boudani plays on guembri, a typical instrument for Gnawa music. It is a three stringed bass lute with a body carved from a log and covered with camel skin.

Thank you Mustapha for performing for us!

dromedaries

The camels in Morocco are rarely found in the wild. They have become significant in the tourism industry, providing income to many locals. They are unique for their ability to survive in the desert environment. These gentle, highly intelligent creatures deserve our greatest respect. To me, their long eyelashes, fluffy hair and extraordinary roaring are the greatest treasure of Sahara!

henna

Henna is used by Amazigh women to protect them from evil spirits during the crucial moments of their lives, such as marriage, pregnancy and widowhood. It highlights the female solidarity. Read more about Amazigh women in the book Amazigh Arts in Morocco: Women Shaping Berber Identity by Cynthia Becker.

it was fun!

The trip was possible thanks to Aneta Okupska and Mustapha El Boudani the coordinators of Africae Deserta Project. They organize the off-trail trips, during which you can explore the life of the Sahara nomads. Thank you for introducing us to this beautiful culture.

Big thanks to Zana, Piotr Kominek and all participants of the trip. It is all about the company you travel with and you made this trip fun!

I would also like to thank all Moroccan friends we’ve met during the trip. You welcomed us with great hospitality.

 

 

 

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Sources:

  • Moroccan Henna: A Symbol of Female Solidarity, by Madeleine Handaji, Morocco World News (click)
  • Amazigh Arts in Morocco: Women Shaping Berber Identity, by Cynthia Becker (click)
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