January 21, 2015

a blessed blanket.

Known as Moroccan wedding blankets, handira are woven out of sheep's wool, cotton and linen by Berber women in the Middle Atlas mountains of Northern Morocco. Berber wedding blankets are woven in anticipation of, you guessed it, a wedding, by the bride's female relatives. It can take many hours, even weeks of work to attach those hundreds of mirrored sequins once the weaving is complete; it is thought that during this collaborative task, the bride's relatives teach her all about the  marital duties and expectations. 
After the wedding ceremony, the bride wears the blanket tied around her neck as a kind of cape. It might be associated with her trip to her new marital home, which could be a chilly ride. For Berbers, objects and visual motifs contain myriad meanings and purposes. The process of hand-weaving, itself, when undertaken mindfully, is thought to endow the textile with baraka, or blessings. When complete, the wedding blanket serves not only as warmth and decoration for the bride, but also to ward off evil and to bestow fertility and good luck upon the newlyweds.