I’m still sorting through the material that I collected this time, so even though I’ve left Morocco you can expect at least a few more Moroccan posts. And of course, if you have any specific questions, ask away!
For my last weekend in Morocco, I took a trip to a few pilgrimage sites around the Fes/Meknes area, including one with particular resonance for henna artists — the mausoleum of Sidi Ali ben Ḥamdush (or Ḥamdouche), the founder of the Ḥamadsha Sufi brotherhood, and the grotto of the jinniyya ‘Aisha Qandisha, the Ḥamadsha’s feared and revered spirit-interlocutor. In this post I’m going to explore the henna connection to ‘Aisha Qandisha and the Ḥamadsha, and more broadly, the relationship between henna and the jnun [spirits] in Morocco.
|Candles and henna leaves for Lalla 'Aisha in her grotto.|
I obviously only have space here for a very brief introduction; for more fuller treatments of the jnun in Morocco, the definitive early work is Westermarck (1926), and Crapanzano’s work (1973; 1980) is now a classic in the field. Some good contemporary pieces include Pandolfo (1997), Ma‘ruf (2007), Kapchan (2007), and Maréchal and Dassetto (2014).
I’ll also take this moment to plug a great source for information on Moroccan henna: the definitive work on the artistry, culture, and significance of henna in Morocco, by renowned artists Lisa ‘Kenzi’ Butterworth and Nic Tharpa Cartier — Moor: A Henna Atlas of Morocco (2010). If you’re interested in Moroccan henna this book is a must-have.