THE GUEDRA



THE GUEDRA


The Guedra is the Tuareg Blessing dance. In Arabic the Guedra is also the name of the cooking pot (or cauldron) which these nomads carry with them. This pot was covered with an animal skin to make a drum. The Guedra rhythm according to Morocco is: duh DAH m duh DAH/ dun DAH m duh DAH. She compares this to the Flamenco Bulerias rhythm, which is the same basic beat. It is not traditionally played on a dombeck and there are no sharp "tek" sounds used.
Unlike other trance dances of the middle east (the Zar, the Hadraa), it does not involve the exorcism of demon spirits or killing chickens. It is purely beneficial and joyful. The Guedra which Morocco audio-taped at King Hassan's palace was three hours long. The moves are simple, but like all trance dances, you must lose yourself in the movement and feel it before you can truly make it work. And the thing about trance dances is that they do work, i.e. inducing altered states of consciousness.


TUAREG ORIGINS

The origins of the Tuareg, like other Berber tribes, are lost in antiquity. Scholars have claimed to find both Christian and pagan practices in their customs, although today's Tuareg are muslim. Guedra uses Muslim chants in its songs, but it obviously has other associations. The Tuareg culture today has been irrevocably damaged by the current political situation, which has divided them into several areas under the control of different governments.
The Tuareg are one of the many Berber tribes; the "blue people" are a sub-grouping of the Tuareg, i.e. all Blue people are Tuareg, but not all Tuareg are "Blue People". They are so called because they really ARE blue. They use a fabric dyed by a process which involves pounding indigo powder into the cloth with a stone. Since desert tribespeople don't take a lot of baths, this blue powder rubs off on their skin. In fact, they consider this blue coloring to have a beneficial and cosmetic effect. It appears that it does actually help hold moisture in the skin. The Tuareg do not refer to themselves as "Tuareg" which they consider a perjorative term. They have become known as "the People of the Veil", or "Kel Tagilmus" because of the habit that Tuareg men have of wearing a veil after a certain age, while the women go unveiled.
They have strong matriarchial influences in their culture. Men hold the cheftain and council positions, but Chieftanship is hereditary through the female line. Inheritance is through the mother's side and a man who marries out of his tribe will move to the woman's tribe. A man may move up in society by marrying a higher status woman, but the woman seldom marry below their station. The women engage in contests of strength (Check references below: Where the Women are Strong). The Tuareg men are recognized as some of the fiercest warriors in the desert, and some of the best traders. In short, the position of Tuareg women in their society is unique.