ARMH Circuit of guest houses

The city of Fez owes its name to the pickaxe “Fas”, in Arabic – because of the permanent work of which it is the object, without doubt since its creation. After getting to know the cooking, the stucco, the hammams and other specificities the Fassi’s life, you are at the end of your visits.
Nevertheless, there are still two points which will only be overlooked, in view of their importance, the zelliges and the spiritual life.
As far as the zelliges are important, it is necessary to know that at the base it is a glazed tile – done exclusively manually – on which are traced and carved the various patterns, just as manually. The two-bladed hammer, called “menkache”, is the only instrument used by the tailor. All the pieces have a name. The setter is another craftsman, able to recut the parts which must adjust closer.
To build wall panels, fountains or tables, the craftsman works on the floor, on the reverse with the so-called “blind technique”. In this way, the face, once turned over is always extremely flat.
Some colors are quite recent and others have been created at the request of some notables. However the base remains dark green, dark blue, golden yellow, white and black. But there are about fifty colors. As to the number of reasons, it is doubtless of a hundred.
In recent houses the white and the blue dominate the decoration whereas in the oldest ones one finds the addition of the yellow and the green as well as the black. Red appears later. No doubt it is a question of technological discovery and, also, of price. Here we find the very classic style of the Andalusian district, one of the oldest in the medina. The Jews settled there in the 12th century when it became dangerous for them to live intra muros. The city at that time had an inner fortification up to the wadi. This neighborhood was therefore isolated and out of the way. It is still called the scientific district.
Symbolism is frequent in the work of zelliges but few people notice it. The figures that form the decoration of the fountains, start from the square and from the circle. The most frequent is the seal of Salomon or star with 8 points that can be found on the signaling circuits of the medina.
The patterns of the pieces are generally innocuous, but they can also represent stars with 5 or 6 branches. The five-pointed star corresponds to the 5 pillars of Islam (celebrating the name of Allah by saying that Mohammed is his last prophet, 5 prayers a day, making the Zakat -charity valued at 2.5% of the benefit – doing Ramadan, and go to Mecca), as for the 6-point one, it is common to all monotheistic religions, but also to alchemists and astrologers.
The moon, another symbolic piece, is omnipresent in the decoration fassis. It is related to the Muslim calendar but also to the woman (cycle of about 28 days for each).
The fountains are built on the number of gold and always represent the cosmos. As for the number of points of the central rosette, it varies from 8 to 64 (always multiples of 8, this figure is related to the 8 gates of heaven in the Koran). The 8 is a symbolic number in several cultures. It symbolizes fertility and power, among other meanings.
The work of the zelliges is transmitted empirically. At the base there is the intention of decorating his home with the limitations that the Qur’an puts: No characters, no animals. The only representations of life possible are flowers and leaves. The doors, on the other hand, have the shape of the stylized man.
This brings us to talk about religious practices at home and in the medina. There are always beautiful meetings for circumcisions, weddings and religious festivals. The music is in full swing and the guests are adorned with their most beautiful kaftans. Drums, trumpets and violins as well as oud, accompany the evenings until very late in the night. Sweets, teas and sugary drinks are constantly circulating. Nowadays, men are more often in tie suits and rare are those in town who dress in traditional ways. The women are together and the men join them later in the evening.
It would take a page to talk about marriages. But Eid al-Kabir requires so much attention. It will be just useful to emphasize the importance that this festival takes in the medina. The sheep are purchased according to the finances of each one, before the party, and they are kept at home either in the patio or on the terrace where they receive all the necessary care, but for those who cannot, the sheep Are bought the day before, even if they go into debt. Some more fortunate also buy a calf or a cow in addition to the sheep, which remains the traditional and sacrificial animal par excellence. Before this festival, towards the end of Ramadan, the children are dressed and little girls are dressed up as adults. Photos are taken for Achoura. It is a little their party and they receive gifts like Christmas, but much more modestly. It is more a matter of buying them fine clothes. But no religious festival gives in the setting up of a decoration both in houses and in the streets. Everything is family-friendly and warm. Often one hears and one sees circulating in the medina, families singing, groups playing music, to show their joy at the occasion of marriages or circumcisions. However, there is another kind of stronger ceremony. This is the funeral.
When a person dies, it is buried as soon as possible, generally the next day. On this occasion the women will present their condolences and the men carry the deceased, on a board. The body is wrapped in a white shroud and covered with a green cloth. This color is the color of Islam. If the deceased is single, a woman paid for this activity, makes youyous to compensate for the absence of youyous marriage that did not take place. This person cannot practice in other ceremonies because it could bring bad luck. Its role is therefore limited to the youyous of the unmarried bachelors, but this position does not last all the time.
Then the women recite “the prayer of the prophet” just as the dead person is taken out of the house. Then the men take over with their prayers sung. This tradition is typical of Morocco and Egypt but does not correspond to the rules of Islam. The songs that they chant on this occasion are very beautiful and the voices of men bring an intensity full of fervor. The men went to the mosque at the time of a traditional prayer and put the deceased person in a room adjoining the mosque (which corresponds to the sacristy of the Catholics). When the prayer is over, the imam announces that a man or a woman is dead. At that time a brief prayer, of four verses is recited. Then the deceased is buried on the right side, sacred side among the Muslims. The women will come to the cemetery the next day.
The tradition is that there are 5 prayers a day but in Fez there is one that is underlined twice 20 minutes apart it is the only place where this practice takes place.
Last detail, if you go into the Medina on Thursday, you can aspire to scent incense that housewives burn in order to clean their homes spiritually, but also to fight against the evil eye. It is with this intention that you will see from the hands of Fatima on some of the doors.
These fittings represent the five fingers but there are also two snakes and a scorpion that replace the three central fingers. Here we enter another dimension more esoteric. But this is another story…!