MOROCCO: INTO THE ATLAS –PART 7: MOUNTAIN KASBAHS
In Jade’s 1920 adventure, The Serpent’s Daughter, she and her mother stayed in a one-family kasbah where the sheik of the village lived with his immediate family. Such buildings generally had four turrets. While larger than the regular mountain domicile, they were much smaller than the immense kasbahs of the lowland cities.
In between those small kasbahs and the palatial kasbahs of Marrakech and Tangier, were the kasbahs of a caliph or a kaid, an overlord of many villages. These multi-turreted fortresses housed many families, most likely those of the owner’s sons or other close relatives.
C.E. Andrews (Old Morocco and the Forbidden Atlas, 1922) explained the order of rule as a sort of feudal systems with the Sultan on top, then the great kaid, the caliph, the sheik, and finally the tribesman. Andrews gives an account of visiting one such caliph as he entered the Atlas Mountains. The invitation to stay a night in the kasbah was more of a politely phrased command. To refuse might mean to be captured or merely turned back down the mountain, for these men retained power only by exerting it. As an illustration, behind the caliph’s own kasbah stood the ruins of another, the one owned by the caliph that the current one overthrew. While this caliph graciously allowed Andrews and his small band to pass, he warned of other caliph’s who jealously guarded their territories and of bandits that wandered the mountains.
NEXT WEEK: MEN AND WOMEN OF MOROCCO.
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 (available in paperback October 7, 2008). The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, will be available in hardcover January 2009. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com