Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (www.suzannearruda.com), and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, July 28, 2008

MARRAKECH: THE RIADS: PART 2

The old Moroccan townhouses, or riads, were built for coolness, privacy, and defense. A man’s wives and concubines were his alone and kept in a cloistered environment. Exterior windows were restricted to upper floors and even those were diminished in size and covered in an ornate screening. These mashrabiya blocked not only the sun’s heat, but prying eyes.

The house plans, as Jade discovered when entering an abandoned riad in her 1920 adventure, The Serpent’s Daughter, was basically the same for all houses. This is what enabled her to reconnoiter her mother’s prison before entering it.

Unlike European houses which open directly into a living room, the Moroccan houses opened into a chicane, a narrow hall that made frequent right-angle twists (above photo). This again afforded privacy, but more especially, protection from armed intruders. A twisting entryway is much easier to defend.

A central courtyard dominated the interior. Paved in ornate tiles, it held trickling fountains and perhaps even a small garden. The courtyard was lit from a glass clerestory, or in some cases by a roof opening. Long, narrow rooms surrounded this courtyard. Narrow stairs, often hidden behind doors, led to the upper stories. The women’s quarters, or harem, were on the upper floors.

Interior beauty was accomplished through colorful mosaic-tiled fountains, marble pillars, ornately chiseled plaster cornices, and beautiful doors strengthened by bronze-work. Rooms above the first floor also bordered these courtyards, with a balcony overlooking the beauty below. Most ancient houses were not designed with lower floors, because of old beliefs that jinni haunted the dark underground places, but a few houses did have sunken storage rooms.

NEXT WEEK: INTO THE ATLAS

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, will be available in hardcover January 2009. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com

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