The Moroccan kaftan is a true symbol and pride of the Moroccan culture, symbolizing the beauty and feminity of the Moroccan women.
Morocco is a sovereign country which is located in the northern part of the African continent. The state is one of the two countries in Africa which are constitutional monarchies (Brown et al., 2018 pg 2). It is officially known as the Kingdom of Morocco. The name Morocco originates from an Arabic word Al-Magrib which means a place where the sun sets, in other words, the west (Amanda, 2017 pg 1). Morocco occupies a land area of 446 square kilometers (Amanda, 2017 pg 1). The country has a coastline along the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It occupies the area between Algeria and Western Sahara (Brown et al., 2018 pg 2).
The proximity of Morocco to the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean made it a crucial trading point for many centuries. It made the country to host different people with diverse cultural backgrounds. As a result, a new Moroccan culture developed from the interaction of the indigenous Moroccan people and the new inhabitants (Amanda, 2017 pg 1)
The Darija and the Moroccan Kaftan are good examples of aspects of the Moroccan culture that developed as a result of the interaction between different cultures (Jordan, 2015 pg 1). The Moroccan Kaftan, on the other hand, is believed to have its origins in the Ottoman Empire where it was worn by the Ottoman Sultans (Mandy, 2016 pg 1). The Moroccans were exposed to the cloth originally through trade with the Turks. The kings of Morocco were the first to wear the attire. However, the fabric became popular with women when the Moroccan Maalims mastered the art of manufacturing the dress and subsequently redesigning into an elegant material to be worn by women during essential occasions (Mandy, 2016 pg 1). Today, the cloth has been diversified further into plain forms which can be worn on a casual basis and complex and sophisticated ways which are adorned for important occasions such as weddings (Mandy, 2016 pg 1).
According to the current estimates, Morocco is believed to have 36,067,085 people (World Population Review, 2018 pg 1). This population equals to 0.47% of the world's total population making Morocco be the 40th most populous country in the world (World Population Review, 2018 pg 1). 59.9% of the Moroccan people live in cities. The coastal town of Casablanca is the country's largest city and has a population of 3, 359, 818 which is about 8% of the county's total population (World Population Review, 2018). Rabat is the country's capital, with a total population of approximately 1.4 million people and it is the second largest city. Majority of the population live in Tangier, Fes, Marrakesh, Meknes, and Sale which are the other major cities (World Population Review, 2018 pg 1).
The Modern Standard Arabic, Darija, Berbera, French, Spanish and English are the most common languages used the country (Jordan, 2015 pg 1). The Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of the nation and is used in formal situations. The Darija, which is an Arabic dialect unique to Morocco is, however, the most commonly spoken language (Jordan, 2015). Berber is the indigenous language of the Moroccan people which was used even before Arabic was introduced in 670 AD (Jordan, 2015 pg 1). Though not an official language, it is still widely spoken by the indigenous Berber communities especially those living in rural Morocco.
Morocco's climate can be described as Mediterranean (Amanda, 2017 pg 3). However, different regions experience different climatic conditions. The Mediterranean climate dominates much of the country's coastal area. In these regions, summers are usually hot and dry with average daily temperatures of 89.6 F (Amanda, 2017 pg 3). Winters, on the other hand, are mild and wet with average daily temperatures being 48.2 F. The annual precipitation for this area varies from a low of 350mm in the east to a high of 800mm in the west (Amanda, 2017 pg 3).
Other climatic regions in the country include the Sub-Mediterranean which has relatively warm conditions throughout the year and has an average annual precipitation of about 400 to 700mm and the Alpine climate which is found in most parts of the Middle Atlas Mountains. In the alpine regions, summer temperatures can reach 86 F while in winters temperatures drop to about 46.4 F. The annual precipitation for this region is approximately 400mm to 1200mm. The southern part of the country experiences a semi-arid type of climate. The proximity of these regions to the Sahara Desert makes them experience desert-like environment with very low precipitations which can sometimes be as low as 100mm per year (Amanda, 2017 pg 3).
Agriculture employs about 40% of the workforce in the country, making it the country's largest employer. Arable land in the country totals to about 22.1% (Government of Morocco, 2017 pg 1). The North-West area of the region receives adequate amounts of rainfall which has enabled the planting of wheat, barley, and other cereal crops. Sugar cane, sugar beets, and cotton are the principal industrial crops grown in Morocco, and they account for about 2% of Morocco's total agricultural production (Government of Morocco, 2017 pg 1). The Atlantic coast which has extensive plains supports the growth of olives, citrus fruits, and wine grapes. This region is, however, under irrigation due to low precipitation. Most of the Agricultural produce from Morocco is exported to Europe which accounts for about 60% of these exports (Government of Morocco, 2017 pg 1). A significant amount of Morocco's agricultural produce is exported to the United States of America.
The Moroccan society is stratified in nature. A vast gap exists between the wealthy individuals and those who live in abject poverty.
Morocco's upper-class is made up of a few very wealthy individuals who include the Monarch, the royal family, high ranking government officials and a few wealthy Moroccans who do not work (Amanda, 2017 pg 4). Below these, very wealthy individuals are the business people who own large business entities in manufacturing, agriculture, and international trade industries.
Professionals who have mostly studied abroad make up the upper middle and the middle class. These groups of individuals work in various sectors of the economy which include education, health, banking, and manufacturing. The Muhajerin is a relatively new class of individuals which is comprised of Moroccan individuals working abroad especially in European countries (Amanda, 2017 pg 4). The Sherfa are a group of Moroccan individuals who believe they are direct descendants of prophet Muhammed (Amanda, 2017 pg 4). They do not work, and they either depend on an inherited property or live on the alms of others.
The rural Berber farmers are the most miserable class in Morocco. They have little access to education which makes it very hard for them even to climb up the social ladder. The black Africans who are mostly immigrants from the sub-Saharan region of Africa also belong to this lowest social class in Morocco. Black Africans do not prosper economically in Morocco due to racial discrimination which makes it very difficult for them to thrive economically (Amanda, 2017 pg 4).
In Morocco, Islam is the dominant religion. Over 90% of the people in Morocco are the Sunni Muslims. The country is, however, tolerant to other religious groups such as Christians and Jews who comprise a tiny percentage of the population. The King is believed to be the direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad, and he is, therefore, the overall religious leader in the country (Amanda, 2017 pg 5). All other religious leaders are his subordinates and must, therefore, respect his decisions.
The Moroccans like other Muslims observe the Five Pillars of Islam which are making a public profession of faith, fasting during Ramadhan, helping the needy, praying five times a day and visiting Mecca at least once in a lifetime. The Baraka and the Murabatin are the two religious practices which are unique to the Islamic religion of Morocco and are believed to have been borrowed from Berber religious practices. Baraka is a term used to describe blessings or good fortunes that a faithful Muslim receives from Allah. Murabatin, on the other hand, is used to refer to individuals who possess excellent Baraka. It is believed that an individual may be blessed as a result of his interaction with a Murabatin. The Moroccan Muslims also have small temples constructed explicitly for Murabatins after their death and people visit these places so that they can be blessed (Amanda, 2017 pg 6). The country has mosques in every region where Muslim believers go for their daily prayers.
When Moroccans die, they are buried within 24 hours after their death according to Islamic laws. The bodies are buried with the head facing Mecca and on the right side to ensure the dead individual is ready for resurrection on the Judgement Day (Amanda, 2017 pg 6). Women during the burial are required to wear white. The Islamic law also requires the spouse to the dead to abstain from sex for 40 days following their beloved's death.
The Moroccan Kaftan
To better understand what a Moroccan Kaftan is, one needs to differentiate it from the Djellaba which is a traditional Moroccan attire. While the Djellaba has a hood on its back, the Kaftan is hoodless. The Kaftan is also a strictly female attire while both males and females wear the Djellaba. The Taktchita is an alternative version of the Kaftan which was invented by Ahmad al-Mansur. The Taktchita is seen by many as an improved version of the Kaftan which consists of two pieces. The inner section of the Taktchita is a simple short-sleeved dress while the outer part includes a more densely decorated robe which is long sleeved. Taktchitas and Kaftans have belts made from silver or gold and are also generously decorated with rubies and emeralds (Mandy, 2016 pg 1).
During the 9th Century, only the Kings used to wear Kaftans. However, when Spain recaptured the territory from the moors, the Andalusian people were forced to convert to Christianity (The COF, 2013 pg 1). This act made many to flee to Morocco. When they came to Morocco, they brought with them their traditional attire and the expertise required to make it (Mandy, 2017 pg 1).
Variation of Style
The Kaftan was adopted later by the Moroccan people who quickly learned and developed the skill. The Kaftan was no longer a preserve of kings; it was made available to all citizens. Women were, however, the most passionate about the attire leading to the development of unique dresses which were strictly worn by women. The Moroccan people converted the dress into a symbol of femininity and beauty of women. Several styles of Kaftans emerged to represent the different social classes in Morocco. The complex and most sophisticated Kaftans were for the royal family while the less complicated Kaftans were for, the lower classes. The Kaftan also became a favorite dress for special occasions. Today, the Moroccan Kaftan is still the standard wedding gown for all women in Morocco (Youssef, 2013 pg 1).
The Kaftan in Morocco was handmade by experienced tailors who are referred to as "maalem" locally, which means masters. It takes up to four maalems to produce one single Kaftan. It is because the process of making a Kaftan is a complicated process with very many facets including cuts, colors, form, and handicraft. Using four individuals who are experts in different aspects of the cloth, manufacturing is aimed at producing the highest quality Kaftan. Such handmade Kaftans are usually very expensive and are adorned mos...
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