When Madonna appeared in her tribute to Aretha Franklin at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, she was dressed in an outfit worn by the Berber or Amazigh community in Morocco.
So many people weren’t impressed with the outfit, with some even calling it a “wizard” outfit. They don’t know the fascinating background and significance of the outfit.
The headgear is worn by women from the Berber community of Ait Baamrane, a confederation in Morocco made up of six tribes. They are one of the fiercest warriors in the community and have been able to participate in any form of warfare.
It is for this reason that they adorn themselves with this particular type of headgear, because it indicated their status. What is fascinating is that these women from Ait Baamrane are the only ones wearing the horned headgear. No other Berber group in Morocco and North Africa wears this style of headgear even though they have similar ones.
According to Twitter user Sahar Amarir, a graduate student of Harvard University, during colonial times, Berber women in this region were not considered capable warriors by their Spanish colonizers. However, when men were killed or imprisoned, women assumed their roles, including that of shepherd.
While keeping the sheep, they did not shave the wool so that they could hide bombs. This not only caused a shortage of wool, but also of sheep.
They did not shave the sheep and let the wool grow so that they were long enough to hide the bombs they attached to their bellies. Rumor has it that this has caused a local shortage of wool and meat products at the height of tensions.
– Sahar Amarir (@SaharAmarir) Aug 17, 2018
The region of Sidi Ifni in Morocco was the last to fall to colonizers in 1934 after a long battle.
Many people in Morocco and around the world recognize the courage of the people of Ait Baamrane, who fought against the Spaniards for a long time. They were instrumental in the series of battles in Morocco, including the Ifni War of 1957. The Ait Baamrane continued to fight until they were able to liberate communities within a 5 km radius. the city of Sidi Ifni. The city finally became fully independent on June 30, 1969, 13 years after Morocco’s proclamation of independence.
According to Cynthia Becker, associate professor of African art at Boston University, for many women in Morocco, their clothes and jewelry were a statement. It showed their status, and married women wore some of the most expensive and flashy jewelry, which also served as a “portable bank” that could be cashed out in times of financial hardship.
Although the headgear is an important signifier, few women today wear it as it is. They also found a way to incorporate other styles from the region and around the world into their outfit. And according to Becker, Madonna wore one of the many versions of the modern walk-in closet that includes elements from various regions of Morocco.