The Moroccan tradition of storytelling, called Hikayat, dates back almost 1,000 years. Hikayat was used as a way to pass on cultural beliefs, moral lessons to children and to entertain people on long winter nights. Some stories were recorded and others were passed on orally. Nowadays, this form of entertainment is fast disappearing. Not many people are still interested in family gatherings after dinner time, which is when the Hikayat used to take place.
Marrakesh, a former imperial city in western Morocco, is a major economic center and home to mosques, palaces, and gardens. The medina is a densely packed, walled medieval city dating to the Berber Empire, with mazelike alleys where thriving souks (marketplaces) sell traditional textiles, pottery, and jewelry. While crafts employ a significant percentage of the population, who primarily sell their products to tourists and traders, there is also a handful of storytellers who still tell ancient Moroccan tales in the heart of Marrakech, Djema El Fena’s square.
Folk tales differ from region to region, each soaking up the inescapable practicalities enforced upon their tellers by climate and terrain. Moroccan folklore is like a mosaic. Tiny, individual pieces - each brilliant in their own right, but impossible to make sense of without looking at everything around them. They are all part of a colorful whole.
While certain themes are universal. Moroccan folk tales frequently involve journeys and native wildlife; they are strongly centered on the family and Islam, while respect is the key virtue. Food, water, and shelter are also very significant, testimony to the fact that life (and death) catches up with you very quickly in the Moroccan countryside. Stories in Moroccan folklore are always charming and told in beautifully simple language. And one thing's for certain: they always have a happy ending!