Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/185

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

The Great Feast in Morocco. 157

dressed up as a woman, the whole affair having the character of a joke rather than being an expression of ill-will. The belief that the buhdrrus causes the destruction of pottery, which I have also found among all the Berber tribes who have the practice of throwing it, may be due either to the fact that the bones themselves have been broken or to the natural function of the jaws, which in most cases seem to be the only bones called by the name buhdrrus. This word, which comes from the verb hcirrds (" he broke " ), may be translated as " the breaker " ; and an old man expressly connected it with the breaking of the food by the jaw-bones.

In some instances the buhdrrus is thrown in the evening of the first day of the feast or the following evening (At Ubahti, Ait Nder), but in other cases the regular time for throwing it is the morning of the second day, which among the Ulad Bu-' Aziz is called nhdr buhdrrils (" the day of the buhdrnh"), although a more common name for it is btwiezlag. The motive for this practice, however, is not merely a malicious desire to break other people's crockery, but I am expressly told that it is also intended to rid one's own home of l-bds, or evil influences. It thus belongs to a group of ceremonies or customs by which those who celebrate the feast try to shake off or guard themselves against the injurious elements of its holiness. There is reason to believe that this is also the case with the follow- ing practices which are observed in the course of the seven days which the feast lasts.

We have first to notice the abstinence from labour. Throughout Morocco the first day of the feast is kept as a holiday both by men and women, and so is generally the second day also, which in some places is regarded as a particularly dangerous time. I am told that anybody who should work on that day would have some grave misfortune, — robbers would kill him at night, or some of his children or animals would die, or he would be struck with blindness ;