Hard to believe but this is my first Moroccan bridal!

Posted in amazigh, art, culture, design, henna, moor, the book, morocco, traditions, weddings, women on June 2, 2011 by kenzilisa

I do a lot of bridal henna and especially now that it’s spring-going-on-summer.  Most of my brides are S. Asian women or women marrying S. Asian men and they all want Indian-style designs.  I get to the point where I don’t even bother showing them Moroccan designs because they skip right over them and I get sad thinking about how underappreciated Moroccan designs are.   I had a bride meet me for a consult a few weeks ago and I handed her all my Indian bridal books; as I was turning away from her to hang up her coat I caught the tiniest glimmer of disappointment in her face which confused me, so when we started talking I tried to observe her and see what that disappointed look meant.

Moroccan bridal henna….at last!!

As we talked it dawned on me that she didn’t want Indian-style designs but had come to me specifically for Moroccan designs.  I chucked all my Indian books and proudly pulled out Moor, and her face brightened immediately.  As we got talking she told me about the time she spent living and studying in Morocco as well as Egypt and it was fun reminiscing.  I finally met her again yesterday for her bridal henna.  I had a moment of panic because I haven’t ever done full Moroccan bridal henna and I feared that I wouldn’t be able to do it.  After a few deep breaths it all came to me and I was able to just go with the flow.  I kept thanking her for requesting Moroccan and I think she started to think she had a nutcase on her hands.  I will nag her in a few weeks for some photos from her photographer at her wedding but here is my quick snapshot of her hands.

K’s Moroccan belly

Posted in Uncategorized on March 29, 2011 by kenzilisa
K's Moroccan belly by kenzilicious
K’s Moroccan belly, a photo by kenzilicious on Flickr.

What a pleasure to create something crazy and Moroccan on this big canvas. Pregnant bellies are so potent with possibilities that I find them a bit unnerving. My creativity runs for cover at the sight of all this space; I try to coax it out of hiding by asking the clients lots of questions about what she wants from her henna design. My client’s instructions to me were “random and tribal stuff all over”. Confused, I tried to tease out more information until I realized that she wanted Moroccan designs. My client is a painter who has lived in Morocco and has been very inspired by Moroccan rug designs as well as henna. I went with the idea of Moroccan rugs–which I also love with a passion–specifically the bands of design that are a common feature especially in the kilims from the north of Morocco. I also wanted to stay away from a radial and centered design on her belly which is very common. I think that I definitely got the “random” that she asked for.

I had a blast doing this design while pumping my client for information about her experiences in Morocco. She was thrilled with what I channeled for her and I hope that she and her baby will always be protected from the evil eye!

Metropolitan Museum’s Moroccan Courtyard Takes Shape – NYTimes.com

Posted in amazigh, art, ceramics, culture, design, history, morocco, traditions on March 20, 2011 by kenzilisa

Metropolitan Museum’s Moroccan Courtyard Takes Shape – NYTimes.com.  An excellent story about the creation of a Moroccan courtyard in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC by traditional craftsmen from Morocco.  I love this kind of mosaic and plasterwork, and this article says that this courtyard may be one of the best examples of this art.  It’s opening in the fall of 2011. I can’t wait to see it here on my home turf.

Moroccan zellij - photo by Jonathan Khoo

“The Moroccans, who are known for their restoration work on important mosques and other landmarks in the Middle East, are in essence living historians who have carried on patterns and designs preserved in practice for generations. But they have never attempted a job requiring this level of historical attention or artistry, one whose goal is to look as authentic to Moroccan eyes as to those of scholars.”

AFP: African Oscar goes to incest movie from Morocco

Posted in amazigh, art, culture, morocco, people, traditions, women on March 6, 2011 by kenzilisa

AFP: African Oscar goes to incest movie from Morocco.

I know that headline is kind of disturbing, but bear with me!  I found this news interesting not just because I follow what is going on in Moroccan culture but also because the film’s subject touches on some of the themes of our book on Moroccan henna.  Specifically the film talks about demon-possession in Morocco.   From the article, “Set in the countryside of the north African nation of Morocco “Pegase”, the debut film of young filmmaker Mouftakir, is a drama of rape of Rihanna, 20, perpetrated by her father in the belief she is “pregnant” with a demon.”  Henna is often used to placate demons but sometimes also to protect a person against demon possession, either by wearing henna to keep the demons away or by making an offering of henna at a saint’s tomb to gain protection from the saint.  I haven’t seen this movie yet but I will see if I can find it somewhere.

“Day of Dignity”protests in Morocco this coming weekend

Posted in amazigh, morocco, people, politics on February 22, 2011 by kenzilisa

This is a story from Afrol News.  They don’t have share or email buttons I had to cut and paste it here. You can see the article with photos at the link.

From Afrol News, 22 February – Human rights groups and the opposition youth movement are preparing new mass protests in Morocco for 26 and 27 February, while denouncing government “lies” that Sunday’s protests had been peaceful.

Already during the Sunday mass protests in Morocco, key groups gathered in front of the Rabat parliament announced that new protests would be held on Saturday and Sunday, 26 and 27 February. This was today confirmed by the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH), calling for massive protests all over the country during the weekend.

The AMDH also strongly challenges the government’s and Moroccan press’ version of Sunday’s protests. The official version is that the protests, which had been allowed, in general went peacefully, with a friendly cooperation from security forces. However, looting criminals during the evening had caused great damage and violence, resulting in 5 persons being killed and 138 injured.

Not so, says the AMDH, which is among the key groups organising the protest movement. Indeed, AMDH President Khadija Riyadi herself was among the injured as she, other human rights activists and a journalist had been attacked by “pro-government thugs” outside a court in Rabat, the capital, in the late afternoon.

According to an AMDH statement in Arabic language, received by afrol News, “repressive forces” were used against the peaceful protesters in central Rabat. Both uniformed and plain-cloth government agents, “armed with batons,” started beating the peaceful protesters, causing severe injuries. Ms Riyadi and several others were hospitalised.

The AMDH strongly condemned “this heinous attack” and human rights violation, urging an “investigation into these violations” and further pro-democracy demonstrations in the coming weekend.

And as the first joy over Morocco’s “Day of Dignity” demonstrations is settling, an increasing number of reports document that government repression in Morocco had followed the same lines as other Arab regimes; only executed in a more elegant and discrete way.

For example, trains between Casablanca – Morocco’s largest city – and nearby Rabat were cancelled during the period protesters could have used them to flock to the capital. Protest organiser Mohammed Elaoudi and many other activists saw their websites and e-mail accounts blocked. Foreign journalists covering the events report being tailed by intelligence agents. “Activists” on state TV declared that the protests were cancelled one day before.

After the protests, the message is the same. While Moroccan media reported widely about the protests, they all refer to the official version. All disturbances are attributed to criminals, looters and drug addicts. Security forces had done nothing wrong.

King Mohammed VI in a televised speech yesterday commented on the protests, insisting he would keep faithful to Morocco’s “unique model of democracy and development,” not bowing into “demagoguery and improvisation” as represented by the protest movement.

For the masses of Moroccans, the messages from government so far are credible. Most people believe the protests were widely peaceful, only disturbed by looting criminals.

However, discontent is rife and Sunday’s protests also in Morocco helped to lift the barrier of fear. Protests like those on Sunday would not have been allowed before the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, and the masses can again be mobilised next weekend. 

But there are also more and more people that have stopped believing in the government version. Organisers like the AMDH are increasingly angered. But, even worse, in the areas witnessing violence on Sunday, discontent may grow into an Egypt-like force as people for the first time in decades dear protesting. Sunday’s deaths and injured may ignite deeper anger.

The nucleus of discontent and unrest remains the northern Rif region and the central Atlas mountains; both historically disadvantaged regions dominated by the Berber minority.

Especially in the Rif region, which includes the port city of Al-Hoceima where 5 persons were killed during the Sunday riots, resistance against the capital has deep roots. Indeed, the great political discussion in the Rif right now is whether the government or the King himself is responsible for the problems in Morocco.

In forums, politically conscious Rif residents are discussing the way forward and whether to keep revolting until the King steps down. A person calling himself “Khattabi” in a Rif discussion forum urges people not to believe in the King’s “false promises.” Rather, he says, “we now have a golden opportunity to confront the government; an opportunity that may not present itself again.”

The future of Morocco’s protest – whether they can become peaceful or violent – will probably be decided in the Rif region and around Marrakech, the unofficial Berber capital, next weekend.

By staff writers

© afrol News

Moor on the Spot…a new book from Nic and Kenzi

Posted in amazigh, art, design, henna, moor, the book, morocco on February 17, 2011 by kenzilisa

Hey all you Moroccan hennaheads, lovers of all things Moroccan and henna, we have a new book out! Nic and I have been trapped under snow drifts for the past few months but fortunately we both had pen and paper and the will to live.  The end result of our entrapment is this lovely little book of Moroccan spot designs, 80 little treasures that will delight you and your clients.  We had a blast drawing these and we hope that you enjoy them just as much.

The book is 20 pages of designs at the low, low price  of just $7, and since it’s an e-book you get instant gratification.  Download here.

Sample page from Moor on the Spot

If you have a hankering for more Moroccan designs, you can also download the original Moor book, “Moor: A Henna Atlas of Morocco”, at the same link above.  And if that still isn’t enough, you can get more books at our henna site, HennaTribe.com.  Here is the book page. You can pick up a copy of HennaTribe’s Hot 100 which is great for parties and festivals and Nic’s Rajasthan book is also there for a bargain price of $7.  Nic will also be releasing a truly gorgeous collection of henna designs based on Hmong batiks which he will announce on HennaTribe and possibly here.

I think that pretty much covers all your henna book needs.  As the weather warms up and the drifts melt into slush the henna season is taking off.  Enough hibernating, let’s get hennaing!

Mini-Lesson: La Chaine

Posted in art, classes, critique, design, moor, the book, morocco, workshop on January 9, 2011 by nictharpa

For those of you have had the chance to pick up a copy of Moor, you know the importance we ascribe to this simple motif. Its name, in French, means “the chain.” The chaine is the most important linear element in Moroccan design, and is drawn in a few different ways, the most common being with a simple zigzag sandwiched between two sets of parallel lines. When the chaine is drawn by Moroccan naqashat, it has a distinctive messy look. This is important because as a motif, the chaine does two things- it creates a boundary, but also recedes into the visual background- it gives just enough interest to move the eye, but not enough to distract from the other, larger motifs or the design as a whole.

So, when creating chaine motifs in your own work, remember to leave it a little bit messy. When the triangles of the zigzag become too defined, it begins to creep up visually, and changes the effect of the design as a whole.  It helps to think of the chaine as three parts, in order: one set of parallel lines, one zigzag, and another set of parallel lines. Create the zigzag quickly, in one smooth motion, without pausing, and you should have the right effect.

Some chaine examples for you, from our work: