Archive for the music Category

Finally! A very happy announcement!

Posted in algeria, amazigh, art, ceramics, classes, critique, cuisine, culture, design, food, henna, history, jewelry, jewish, language, mauritania, moor, the book, morocco, music, people, politics, sahara, tattoos, textiles, traditions, travel, tuareg, tunisia, Uncategorized, weddings, women with tags on June 1, 2010 by nictharpa

We are very pleased to announce that “Moor: A Henna Atlas of Morocco” is now available for purchase!

Moor: A Henna Atlas of Morocco

Moor: A Henna Atlas of Morocco

The first book of its kind, “Moor” is the story of henna in Morocco, giving you a first-hand account of how the Moroccans use henna for magic, beauty, and protection. After more than a decade of research, Lisa “Kenzi” Butterworth and Nic Tharpa Cartier are proud to present their findings in this groundbreaking book.

“Moor” contains more than 40 pages of text covering the history and culture of henna in Morocco, as well as an in-depth design manual that gives step-by-step instructions for learning Moroccan design elements and creating authentic and beautiful Moroccan-style henna work. The book also features more than 20 full-color photos of Moroccan-style henna work, as well as over 100 pages of Moroccan henna patterns from traditional and modern sources. “Moor” is the first comprehensive manual covering all aspects of Moroccan henna, and will be invaluable to henna artists, fans of Moroccan culture, and anyone interested in the beauty and rituals of exotic lands.

The book is currently available as a digital PDF download, for $43, from at the following link: or as a full color printed and bound copies  through at the cost of $52 for a softcover printing and $70 for a hardcover.

B’saha! Wear henna in good health!


Lalla Aisha and the Gnaoua

Posted in amazigh, culture, henna, morocco, music, people, traditions with tags , , , , , , on April 17, 2010 by nictharpa

While doing the research for Moor, Kenzi and I encountered all kinds of strange and supernatural characters, in the form of jnoun. Jnoun (plural, jinn singular) are a race of spirits engaged with on various levels by the Moroccan people, and form an important part of the Moroccan Sufi Muslim belief system. They are very fond of henna, and have many odd quirks that cause us humans to have to be wary- they are not difficult to anger, and results could be highly undesirable.

While researching, we began at points to be moderately obsessed with the jnoun– did they live in New York City and not just Morocco? Were they hiding in the drain, the armoire, or other common jinn hangouts? Were we going to invite their wrath by not offering them our leftover henna as prescribed? The most fearsome of all is Aisha Qandisha, also called Lalla Aisha, who often appears as a beautiful woman with the feet of a camel.

The Sufi groups in Morocco have unique ways of negotiating with these jnoun. One of the most important ways is through music. The music of the Gnaoua order, who moved north to Morocco from sub-Saharan Africa is especially haunting, featuring a bass lute called a guembri and several pairs of metal clappers called qaraqeb. An invocation to the jinn is sung and she is invited into the ceremony.

Here’s a short clip of one of my favorite Gnaoua songs, youbati:

Ultimately, we’re pretty sure the jnoun haven’t made it over to the states yet… but watch out!