Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/204

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174 The Popular Ritual of

the death of the Prophet his followers once captured a Christian king, who was afterwards bought back by his people for a dog. He was taken to his country, dressed up in goatskins and accompanied by musicians playing on their instruments. This was done at the time of the Great Feast ; hence a man is still on that occasion dressed up in goatskins and taken about with music. This is the only native explanation I ever heard of the masquerade, and I need hardly say that it is a very unsatisfactory one.

The Great Feast is not the only occasion when a masquerade takes place in Morocco. In several towns and in some country districts in the South there is also a masquerade on or immediately after the day of 'Asura, and at Demnat, a little town in the Great Atlas, I was told that there is one at ' Asura alone. When the Court is in Fez, the Sultan's soldiers {l-dskar) arrange there a great show, which is performed before the Sultan in the evening of the day of 'Asura and following nights in the houses of his ministers and other dignitaries or wealthy persons. An important feature of this show is an illuminated toy-house, called bsdt, made of paper mounted on wooden frames and provided with a cupola like a saint's tomb. It resembles "the tomb of el-Husain" which figures in the 'Asura plays of the Shl'ah Moslems in Persia and India ; ^^ and, as a matter of fact, like those Moslems, the people of Fez also maintain that Sidna 1-H6sin (as they pronounce his name) died on the loth of Moharram. The bsdt is carried round by soldiers in a procession containing a large number of persons dressed up as different sorts of people, spirits, and animals, and also some other conspicuous objects besides the toy-house. There is the black image of a serpent-like monster, called s-Sat, with the head of a man and a long beard, carried on a cane by a soldier who makes it dance and bow. There is a steamer, bdbbor, made of wood and dragged along on wheels. There are musicians playing on

-■' See Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, 1896, pp. 408 et seq.