TIMAZIGHEN - View Gallery
Cultural Identity and traditions amongst Berber women of the Atlas
Mountains of Morocco.
This project on the Timazighen illustrates the tribal and identity based nature of the
Moroccan Berber aesthetic. I have embraced my own creativity and curiosity within this
project to visually demonstrate and document the culture and ethnicity of the Timazighen.
The creative element which is so prevalent in every sector of their lifestyle led me to
exploring women as the artists amongst the Berbers.
Within the dramatically changing backdrop of the Atlas Mountains live a long lasting and
evolving community called the Berbers or Imazighen meaning the “Free People”. Through
photographs and observations I have documented the Berber women known as Timazighen
and have focused on the beauty they produce in their lives through their spinning and
weaving, their body adornment and their culinary traditions. Their creativity holds many
metaphoric associations highlighting their cultural identity. Their detailed arts are rich in
cultural symbolism. The arts within the Imazighen are visual expressions of womanhood,
fertility and reproduction. The symbols and motifs used are unique to their own culture with
strong symbolism of guarding against evil fortune. This is also an illumination of the role of
women within the Berber Community in Islamic North Africa, who withhold the largest
share of labour in the daily duties and life necessities. The arts are expressions of their
ethnic identity and the Timazighen are proud of their heritage and ensure its continuation
throughout the generations.
The Atlas mountains are a beautiful backdrop to their habitat but create harsh living
conditions, with snow blasted mountains in the winter to extreme heat during the summer
months. The Berbers are farmers and their homes are made from mud and straw and heated
by wood ﬁres. Their interiors are decorated with a riot of colour and texture. Unlike other
Muslims the Timazighen are not required to veil their faces. They adorn their faces with
elaborate and artistic make up and tattoos signifying tribal identiﬁcation and availability for marriage.
Through an abundance of colour and texture I have attempted to offer a multi layered
glimpse in to rich symbolic ancient way of life of the Timazighen. My intention throughout
has been to invite the viewer to feel engaged with the subject matter and conjure up a
powerful mind imagery.