Nomadism

Pastoral tradition

Man and dromedary have co-existed in what we call “desert civilization”.  The great tradition of Beydan pastoralism developed over centuries, a time in which knowledge and know-how were evolving, helped by the growing ties between man and dromedary.

The people of the clouds are in a permanent search of generous rainfall. They would develop a remarkable capacity for finding fertile lands in desert, exploring and inhabiting these immense territories, all the while respecting as nomads the complex and unwritten Beydan social etiquette.

Nomadic tribes of Saharan Morocco are a stronghold of alliances, uniting with each other in a family-like relationship, and their transhumance routes are determined just as much by their social imperative, as they are by the virtues of the grazed pastures that they seek.

These pastures in which each nomad everlastingly evolves are in fact a herbarium in which he (as it was passed on to him from his father) knows the characteristics of each of the plants that are found : he knows which are beneficial for him and his herd as well as those that are poisonous and inedible, for example, talh (acacia radiana), askaf (nucularea perrinio), hadd(cornulaca monocantha), etc.

The aquatic plants, on the other hand, are completely neglected and are not cared for much by the pastoral nomad, who calls each and every one of them «hchich elma» (plants from the water).

Speaking Footprint

Through oral transmission from father to son, the dromedary holds no secrets for the nomad. His footsteps in the sand are signs that his owner can interpret. Simply by the depth of the footprints, he can tell if it is a male or female.

He can also conclude from the mark of the hooves at the front of the footprint, the animal’s origin : a long mark for a sandy soil origin and an eroded mark for animal evolving in rocky and pebbly soils. The nomad can also identify a dromedary’s breed and even the colour of its fur, all from the shape of its footprint.

 

In fact, only the white or spotted dromedary has long, fine hairs, which can also be distinguished from the mark of the footprint left in the soil.

With its extraordinary adaptability in the arid environment of the Sahara, the dromedary is a prodigious animal. The nomad owe it for its habitat (wool) and its food (meat, milk), women owe it their opulent beauty, and Saharan Morocco’s craftsmanship owes it their flamboyant objects made of leather. The dromedary is the one that made journeying possible for the nomad, and without which the epic caravans of trans-Saharan commerce never would have existed. Saharan Morocco and its flourishing lands have long been the heart and soul of the prosperity of both Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa. The history of Morocco knows well the role of this "desert vessel" as it is a building block of the Almoravid empire, the great camel-riding nomads of the Sahara. Ibn Khaldoun has highlighted the importance of the camel-riding nomad, who leaves his land to explore new grounds, marking the beginning of a powerful dynasty.

The Prodigious Animal

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