Witness the Gnawa Folklore in the Best Marrakech Luxury Hotels
février 24, 2015
Morocco is a country that enjoys an impressively rich and varied cultural heritage which is the fruit of many influences, including but not limited to Arab, Berber, Andalusian, and African. In the following article we will shed a different light on the Gnawa or Gnaoua Folklore, which is one of the most famous folkloric elements in Moroccan culture and has an increasing international dimension.
This article will focus on the existence of Gnawa folklore specifically in Marrakech, a city that has become one of the most sought-after destinations for tourists of all nationalities and the major tourist destination in Morocco. We will also explore what elements are specific to Gnaoua as a folkloric dance as well as the places where visitors can enjoy the diversity of this prosperous folklore.
African in origin, the Gnawa dance belongs to the brotherhood music lore, although the acrobats and jugglers of the Djemaa El Fna square in Marrakech have turned it into a more fashionable kind of entertainment mostly aimed at tourists and foreign visitors. The instruments used are rather primitive, with the large drums, called “tbel”, the three-string “hajhuj” lute, and the extremely famous, almost iconic, wrought iron castanets or “qraqab”.
There are also cowry shells and glass beads that are worn as ornaments and recall the dance’s origin and its magical or religious aspect. Some of the dancers perform leaps worthy of the best acrobats during which they manage to jump high in the air without missing a beat of the rhythm. It is a show with an enormous dramatic intensity and the repetitive music is quite ecstatic and almost pushes the audience into a state of mystical trance.
Gnawa folklore also expresses a particular kind of existence and a specific identity that constantly claims its African origins. Just as it happened in the United States and other colonial states, where slaves were forced to leave their home countries and resettle far away, they decided to preserve their identity and cultural heritage. This art of Gnawa is thus a trace that expressed –and still expresses- their attachment to their original identity, which still exists despite the fact that they have been almost fully integrated into Moroccan society.
The Gnawa folklore is not just an artistic and cultural expression. In fact, it also contains several religious symbols and it always is closely related to many beliefs. Many people want to attend Gnawa performances in order to get away from everyday common life and to enter a sort of spiritual trance evoked by the rhythm and the music. This art used to provide people with a kind of spiritual boost that can make them stronger and more powerful, and it still offers a unique opportunity to witness this spiritual force in amazing and unpredictable acrobatics and stunts.
The Gnawa folklore is an evidence of Morocco’s potential and proves that, in this country, nothing is impossible. Also this art is the best example of the cultural variety of the Moroccan society and of its extraordinary cultural heritage. In Marrakech, a traditional meeting point of Northern and Southern peoples, people from the mountains, the plains and the desert, you will have a unique opportunity to discover the charm of this magical art, which will transport you to another world.
The Djemaa El Fna square in Marrakech is most definitely one of the best places to attend Gnawa events in the form of street shows. But you can also attend Gnawa private events and special shows in some of the Marrakech luxury hotels. In fact, Gnawa dance and music troupes are available for hire, so they are very often seen in social occasions, corporate events or business and tourist performances in boutique hotels in Marrakech.