Guesthouse and restaurant El Khorbat, south Morocco.

Ksar El Khorbat, Morocco
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e-mail of El Khorbat

Return to the home page. Welcome to Ksar El Khorbat. Rooms of the Guesthouse El Khorbat. Restaurant El Khorbat. The Oasis Museum in Ksar El Khorbat. Excursions from Ksar El Khorbat. International cooperation in Ksar El Khorbat. How to arrive to the Ksar El Khorbat. Airports. Transfers. Map of Morocco. Prices and discounts to stay in Ksar El Khorbat.

The Oasis Museum

Oasis Museum in Ksar El Khorbat, near Tinghir, south Morocco.

Opened in 2002, the Oasis Museum occupies a group of three restored houses inside the Ksar El Khorbat Oujdid, with a total surface of 600 square meters, distributed over three levels.

See the plan of the Oasis Museum

The posing is completely didactic, with the intension to answer the questions visitor may have about the culture of the south of Morocco.

The Oasis Museum exposes:

  • 711 antiquities and objects of traditional use

  • 49 explaining color photographs

  • 33 historic photographs

  • 17 maps and sketches

  • 14 scale models and reproductions

  • 6 topic maps

  • 4 explaining paintings, painted by the local artist Rachid Bouskri

El Museo de los Oasis, en español.      El Museu dels Oasis, en català.      Le Musée des Oasis, en français.

Morocco map to find El Khorbat.

Berber kitchen in the Oasis Museum of Ksar El Khorbat.

Oasis Museum: agriculture and sedentary life.

Oasis Museum: agriculture and sedentary life.

The Oasis Museum includes 22 halls, each one dedicated to a special topic of the traditional live in oasis in the south of the High Atlas:

HALL 1:

Oasis: agriculture and sedentary life

In the presaharic area of South Morocco, agriculture and sedentary life are limited to the middle of the valleys, where water from the Grat Atlas Mountains or from the Jebel Saghro makes irrigation possible. These fertile valleys are real oasis surrounded by arid land. Water comes to them from a river or from subterranean springs by wells or from a Khettara.


Oasis Museum in El Khorbat: trade in Sahara.

HALL 2:

Trade

In addition to fertile valleys surrounded by arid land, oasis are also commercial centers that provide the nearby areas with supplies via local markets.

Formerly they were stages of the caravan routes that connected the cities in North Morocco with sub-Sahara Africa. This last role has given them a great economic prosperity throughout their history.


Oasis Museum: men handicraft in south Morocco.

Oasis Museum: women handicraft in south Morocco.

HALL 3:

Handicraft

In the oasis, handmade craft production tries to fill local needs and the demand of the nomad population in the area. The iron work is a labor undertaken specifically by the Black people. The silversmith’s work was long ago a specialty of Hebrews. Carpentry and saddle making are both done by men as a job.

Women weave carpets and blankets and embroider shawls, not in a professional way but as a complementary activity along with the housework.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: pottery in south Morocco.

Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: pottery in south Morocco.

HALLS 4, 5 and 6:

Pottery

In presaharic valleys, pottery is a professional male activity, and several villages are specialized in it.

It is simple and useful pottery, without ornamental painting, but glazed sometimes with natural enamel.

This enamel is composed of three minerals: quartz; a sandy clay, and lastly lead sulfide if an ochre tone is desired or copper oxide for a green tone.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: tribal system in south Morocco.

HALL 7:

Tribal system

The connection between the members of one tribe is common ancestry, be it real or legendary. On the other hand, they do not claim specific territory for themselves, being able to live scattered over the four extremes of the country and being able to share their villages with neighbors from other tribes.

Each tribe is subdivided in many fractions, clans and families, always based on blood ties. Different tribes can also come together to form a confederation.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: dressing in south Morocco.

Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: tattoos in south Morocco.

HALL 8:

Dressing

Each tribe has its special mode of dress and ornamentation. Generally, men dress in a wool or cotton gown, a Jellaba or sometimes a cloak called Azennar or Selham, complemented with a leather shepherd’s bag and a dagger. Their head is not covered, just tied with a little black or white turban.

Women wrap up with a shawl embroidered with the pictures of their tribe. It has various names depending of the valley. This shawl covers their body and often the head, sometimes even the face. If it doesn’t, a scarf is used as well. They have several tattoos on their face, with show their tribal membership. They always wear a lot of silver jewelry: armlets, necklaces, Fibules...

Nowadays, a part of the population wears European clothes, or dress the same as in big Moroccan cities. Tattoos are disappearing and new jewels are made of gold.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: celebrations in south Morocco.

Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: celebrations in south Morocco.

HALL 9:

Celebrations

The most important parties are weddings. They can last one whole week and many people take part in them. There are also other smaller familiar celebrations, like births and circumcisions.

Each tribe has its own folklore, music and customs for the celebration, in special the customs of the women, who in addition paint the face and they put henna in the hands and the feet.

Another type of celebration is the Moussem, around the tomb of a dervish. They take place once in the year, with occasion of the Aid El Kebir (commemoration of the Abraham’s sacrifice), of the Miloud (anniversary of the birth of Mahomet) or at the end of the harvests. In them act the members of a certain religious brotherhood. Usually they are accompanied by a great market.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: fire weapons in south Morocco.

Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: torture systems in south Morocco.

HALL 10:

War

Over the centuries, wars were usual among tribes, between parts of the same tribe, and with the nearby Ksars. Wars occurred for different reasons:

  • Irrigation water distribution.

  • Occupation of cultivatable lands.

  • Share of pasture lands.

  • To get grain during hard times.

  • As a revenge in personal matters.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: Jewish cult in south Morocco.

HALL 11:

Jewish cult

Some populations of Israelite origin has lived in the presaharic valleys for over twenty centuries and has kept its religion through the years, in spite of the conversion to Islam of the other inhabitants.

For the Jewish cult, there was a synagogue and a Hebrew cemetery in every village where the Hebrews had their own neighborhood.

There, they did some specific activities: trade, money lending, silverwork and other kinds of handicraft.

Almost all of the Jewish population immigrated to Israel in 1967 as a consequence of the Six Days war.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: mimbar of mosque in south Morocco.

Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: islamic cult in south Morocco.

HALL 12:

Islamic cult

The practice of the Islamic cult implies the existence of a Mosque in each village for prayers at noon on Friday (the remaining prayers may be said in the Mosque or in any other place).

It also implies the presence of a cemetery near the village, where the dead are buried, wrapped up in a while cloth, without a coffin, and laid on their right side to look at Mecca. Two stones on the grown show the position of each grave.

Most of the cemeteries are placed under the symbolic protection of a shrine, which provides a place to visit and pry. Being usually the Mosque just for men, the shrine is attended mostly by women.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: barn in south Morocco.

HALLS 13 and 14:

The barn

The harvests of grains are stored in barns to keep them safe throughout the year and to prevent someone from stealing them.

Inside Ksars, there is a little barn in each house. In some villages which have no walls, a fortified community barn gives security to the families who live there. Sometimes this building is placed under the symbolic protection of a shrine.

Nomad tribes had also long ago hidden barns on top of some gullies in the Great Atlas Mountains.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: food in south Morocco.

HALL 15:

Food

In the oasis, the base of diet is wheat, corn or barley flour. With it, the women bake bread and make couscous. This last one, cooked by steam, is the typical dinner in the region. For lunch, bread is accompanied with vegetables and pieces of meat cooked in an oil sauce with many spices added. In the north of the Atlas Mountains, this mixture is prepared with a conic lid named Tagine. Otherwise, in presaharic valleys it was traditionally cooked with clay pots, which have been substituted nowadays for aluminum pressure cookers.

For breakfast, people eat bread with oil and drink tea. Other kinds of breakfast are the barley soup and the bread stuffed with grease.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: traditional medicine in south Morocco.

HALL 16:

Traditional medicine

Many natural products are used to heal different illnesses, and also for good luck in business or in love.

Between them, we have to mention henna: an herb cultivated in presaharic valleys and exported all over Morocco. It is applied sometimes on wounds and skin illnesses and it is also used by women to dye the palms of their hands, their feet or their hair, with an esthetic objective and for good luck.

Henna pictures with geometric patterns are very popular in the big cities of Morocco, but not in this area.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: earth house in south Morocco.

Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: earth architecture in south Morocco.

HALLS 17, 18 and 19:

Soil architecture

All traditional housing of presaharic valleys is build using soil in two different ways:

  • Pisé (rammed earth) for the master walls.

  • Sun-dried clay bricks for the internal walls, the arches, columns and decoration.

The external finish is a mixture of mud and straw. The ceilings may be built with palm tree trunks, canes, tuia branches or oleander stems, sometimes placed in order to form an ornamental design.

These ceilings are supported on rafters made from palm trees, black poplar or tamarind, and they are covered also with earth.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: Kasbah in Todra valley, south Morocco.

Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: Ksar in Todra valley, south Morocco.

HALL 20:

Kasbahs and Ksars

All the traditional architecture of presaharic valleys is based on the principal of fortification.

  • The Kasbah is a building with several floors and watchtowers at the four corners and sometimes –not always- a central courtyard. Kasbahs are usually isolated, but one can also find them inside a Ksar.

  • The Ksar is a village surrounded by walls with some watchtowers at different points and one or several huge entrances. Inside there are houses, a mosque, a place for celebrations and sometimes an inn.

Nowadays, both are being gradually substituted by new dwellings made of reinforced concrete.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: traditional window in south Morocco.

HALL 21:

The watchtower

Inside Ksars, each watchtower (except the two in the entrance) belongs to an inhabitant, who in ancient times was responsible for controlling its surroundings and, in case of armed conflict, defending his part of the wall.

After peace came to the presaharic valleys, these towers became little sitting rooms where guests are received.


Oasis Museum of El Khorbat: nomade life in south Morocco.

HALL 22:

Nomad life

While cattle raising takes place inside the Ksars, sheep, dromedaries and goats require a constant search for new pastures. In order to shepherd the herds, a part of the population practices nomad life. They live in tents and carry all their belongings with them.

Due to such a hard life, these shepherds are much stronger, more resistant and braver than the sedentary farmers. For this reason, in ancient times there was a relationship of dependence between the nomad protectors and their counterparts who farmed in the oasis.

The Oasis Museum is the first and unique establishment with these characteristics in the South of Morocco.

  • Opening hours: from 9,00 AM to 9,00 PM. The key is available at the restaurant.

  • Entrance fee: 20 DH per person. Children under 12 years go for free.

Morocco map to go to El Khorbat.

Return to the home page. Welcome to Ksar El Khorbat. Rooms of the Guesthouse El Khorbat. Restaurant El Khorbat. The Oasis Museum in Ksar El Khorbat. Excursions from Ksar El Khorbat. International cooperation in Ksar El Khorbat. How to arrive to the Ksar El Khorbat. Airports. Transfers. Map of Morocco. Prices and discounts to stay in Ksar El Khorbat.