Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

The Harratine Berbers of Morocco live in the southern oasis towns at the very edges of the Sahara.

Their roots are further south in sub Saharan Africa.

It is widely thought that their forefathers were originally stolen from their homes and taken in the harshest conditions to Morocco by slavers who intended to take them to ports such as Mogador to be sold and transported overseas.

In the mid 1800's this barbaric practice was outlawed, leaving a group of peoples who had been trafficked across Africa and were far from their homes abandoned in Morocco. Finding land in the inhospitable fringes of the Sahara, they settled making small towns near to Oases.

The jewellery and adornment of the Harratine women is bold, rich and colourful. Often elements are used within the construction which are not found in use further North. Leather, shell, coins and glass are typical of the pieces worn by These flamboyantly adorned ladies.

This typical Harratine Temporal piece is of a leather construction with applied Czech glass beads and coins. The hanging disc at the top is a slice of conus shell.. Coins were often used as adornment, as the true currency in the southern Oasis is livestock generally camels.

This picture shows another boldly styled Harratine piece , this set comprises a pair of Temporal hangings and a pectoral decorative piece. These are large and bold and with typical leatherwork construction.

Adornment of the hair is an important aspect of a Berber ladies' Attire and there are diverse beautiful pieces designed to be worn for the purpose.

Here is an elaborate piece from the southern Oases which would be worn asymmetrically with the ring also pictured.

We also find rings designed to be worn threaded onto plaits, and sometimes shells for the same purpose.

Enjoy, and please add to this thread with any other information regarding the subject.

Some of these items are available for sale and can be viewed with full descriptions at

The following pictures are pieces worn by Harratine ladies...

Hair ring worn at centre of forehead

Decorative finial for a plait

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 temporal hanging

Hair ring worn at centre of forehead

When I went to Morocco some 15 years ago and made a small mountain trekking in the surroundings of the Draa-Valley, the excusion was led by Morocco`s only female mountain guide with a state diploma at that time. We were an all-women group. Our guide was the most wonderful person we could have met, she was dark (black), and she told us many many secrets of her life, she had been born as Haratin. When we stayed in  a lovely hotel in the south, we heard a lot of noise at night - someone shouting and doors banging. Later, she told us,that the chef of the hotel had thought, he could share her bed, just because she was black. But she was a very resolute and strong young woman and was strong enough to throw him out of her room. When she told us this story a few days later, we were shocked and could hardly believe it. She told us, that this often happened to her, and the only reason was, because she was dark, so the men thought she was freely available to them! I was really shocked. She had a French boyfriend and said they would want to marry. But she also had a sick mother, who needed medical care and a father who had left mother and children. I sent her later an envelope with SFr. 100.00 - which was silly. Of course, it was stolen, the envelope arrived, but was empty. We had visited together many places for women only, like a hamam, we had lived on a small farm in the Draa Valley, visiting various women, and we had discussed over many subjects while eating some wonderful dishes. I really admired her for her strength, for her courage and firm convictions. I often wonder what has become of her...... if she still lives in Morocco or has become a happy wife living in France, with a few children, that was her wish then. She did not hesitate to answer all questions and tell us whatever we wanted to know. She has impressed me more than the clever modern businessmen in Marrakech, her heart was really open to us, and I still remember her warmth.

Hi Folks,

Am testing this new concept, if those of us with a particular area of interest start a discussion or article regarding the subject, it can be added to by other forum members. this will become a great resource for each subject.. I a kinda jewelwiki i guess!!

Hope you may like the idea and add to the discussions.



nice posting.

the herratine were and areliving in the all sahara. they had small jobs by the rich familys tentes or houses. tente or house keeping,they were working in the oases gardens , caravanes escort,doing the herders jobs and they were also smiths.

almost all the smith now in the sahara are originaly from herratine familys

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Created by Cordelia Donohoe Apr 10, 2017 at 4:03pm. Last updated by Cordelia Donohoe Apr 17, 2017.

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