A Cultural Tradition: The Rich History of Handiras

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A Cultural Tradition: The Rich History of Handiras

Have you ever marveled at the brilliant combinations of colors and elaborate weavings in Moroccan textiles? If so, then you will love the handira – the Moroccan traditional wedding blanket. For many centuries, brides in Morocco have been wrapping themselves in magnificent handira to complete the wedding ritual and for many days after it. The history of handira is rich and diverse, reflecting the element of art from Amazigh tribal groups from the Moroccan regions.

The Origins and Meaning of the Handira

The Moroccan wedding blanket or handira has interesting roots and a wide variety of cultural significances. Traditionally, the handira was handwoven by the bride herself or close female relatives. The handira was used as part of a bride’s dowry; therefore, it was a meaningful piece for a newlywed. The vivid colors and complex patterns of the handira were to display the skills of the bride’s weaving and to bring good fortune to the betrothed. After the ceremony, the handira was worn by the bride as a cape that was tied around her shoulders like a shawl. The stylish addition of dark stripes on a white background allowed it to double as a bed cover, throw, small rug, or wall hanging. The handira was symbolic of a girl’s transformation into a woman who is about to embark on an entirely new chapter of her life with her husband. Many tribu s in Morocco have interwoven symbols, colors, and patterns woven into the handira. Diamonds generally stand for fertility and longevity. Similarly, geometric designs, such as squares and triangles, try to

White berber wedding blanket 3.8 x 5.9 ft

Traditional Tribal Designs and Patterns

One may see that the handira pattern with geometric and tribal design in a quilted mat was transferred through generations. The handira mat covers the black and white stripes. The white background means purity, and the black ones stand for girlhood and womanhood. Many motifs have been transferred through different tribes, such as the diamond ait ouaouzguite or the zig-zag of ait atta.

Complex Weavings

Handiras can take up to six months to make using colored weft yarns and an ancient process called slit weave or slit tapestry, a technique that allows weavers to construct intricate geometric and abstract designs by wrapping weft threads around the warp in groups using differently colored weft yarns. Finally, weft threads are inserted using the slit-and-weft-float or slab weaving technique, which requires an advanced level of weaving talent or experience to ensure the pattern is even. Unsurprisingly, it requires months to compete with only one handira, if several groups work together. reaches the professionals take to get your work. It is a story recount in patterns, as well as a patina of memory and possession of the bride’s wedding day. Furthermore, each bridal handira delivers an intimate and timeless legacy, to be passed down and valued for generations. An original handira is the homeowner and pride of any bride and connects her to others in this close tradition over several centuries.

How Handiras Are Made: A Delicate Weaving Process

In summary, the handira is a work of art that takes skilled artisans weeks to create. It starts with the best quality wool sheared from sheep in the Atlas mountains. The wool is then spun into yarn and dyed different neon colors using natural dyes. The yarn is then woven with weaving looms in a technique called slit weave. The blanket’s typical patterns were diamond shapes, triangle, hexagons, and zigzags. These patterns symbolize fertility, mountains, harmony, and rough territory or a winding road, respectively. Each handira has its exclusive color and pattern only enjoyed by the tribe that makes it. The handira is further to strung and decorated with hand-made strings following the same process that created the fringes and edges. In conclusion, a handira expresses the culture of the Moroccans in items of colors and patterns due to the combination that is distinct. It is a subject to be seen and appreciated to express the different meanings every design has. A handira varies from a wedding to another depending on who marries between the family or out.

How Handiras Are Used in Moroccan Weddings

In traditional Moroccan weddings, handiras serve an important purpose beyond their decorative beauty. These colorful wool blankets are an integral part of the wedding ceremony and celebrations.

The Bride's Cape

After the wedding ceremony, the bride wears her handira tied around her neck as an embellished cape. The vibrant stripes and tassels signify her new status as a married woman. As she travels from the ceremony to the wedding reception, the handira helps identify her as the bride so guests can offer their congratulations and well wishes.

A Gift for Guests

Handiras are often given as gifts to wedding guests to thank them for attending and celebrating the new union. Close friends and family members may receive handiras as an extra special token of appreciation. For guests, the handira serves as a memorable keepsake of the occasion.

Bedding and Beyond

Handiras have a useful life well beyond the wedding day. Their thick wool fabric and colorful patterns make them ideal for a variety of purposes. Many Moroccan families use handiras as:

  • Bed blankets, throws and quilts

  • Rugs and tapestries to decorate walls

  • Tablecloths and furniture covers

  • Wraps and shawls for warmth

The vibrant red, yellow and green dyes used in handiras are colorfast and only become brighter and more distinctive over time and use. A handira can last for generations, reminding a family of joyful celebrations past.

Whether used in a wedding, displayed as home decor or passed down through the generations, handiras represent an important cultural tradition in Morocco. Their bold patterns and colors are symbolic of life's most meaningful moments shared together with family and friends.

Displaying Handiras: Beyond the Wedding

Once the wedding is over, handiras can be used in a variety of decorative ways in the home. Their vibrant colors and bold geometric patterns make a stunning statement. Here are some ideas for giving your handiras a second life beyond the wedding.

Wedding berber blanket rug 3.6 ft x 6 ft

Wall Art

Handiras are ideal for displaying as wall art. You can frame individual handiras or group several together in a collage. Their colorful stripes and diamond motifs will instantly transform any space into a stylish Moroccan oasis. For a more rustic look, simply tack or staple the handiras directly to the wall.

Throw Blankets

Handiras also work well as throw blankets to add warmth and visual interest to seating areas. Drape one over the back of a sofa, chair or bed. Their lightweight fabric is perfect for lounging and cuddling.


For small rugs, you can use individual handiras. Larger handiras, especially vintage ones, are well-suited for covering entryways or placing under seating areas. Secure the corners and edges to prevent slipping. The handira's cotton fabric is durable enough for light foot traffic.


Handiras make one-of-a-kind pillow covers. Their geometric patterns and color combinations will make a bold statement in any room. For smaller pillows, a single handira should provide enough fabric. You may need to seam together multiple handiras for larger sizes. Remove the handira's edging or fringe and finish the raw edges to prevent fraying before inserting a pillow.


Finally, perhaps the most dynamic way to use handiras is for a truly dramatic table setting, especially when dining out. A handira’s lightweight makes it ideal for use as a picnic blanket. The begging fabric works just as well on patios and terraces, creating an al-fresco meal setup fit for kings and queens. The handira’s geometric patterns and brilliant dyes make any picnic or outdoor meal a special one. However, ensure that the corners and edges are situated under the table’s edge or secured tightly to ensure it does not move I blow away. Ultimately, handiras will find endless uses around the home, and with Moroccan inspiration, one can never decorate too much.Gender-wise, they can be used as table runners or plate placement squares. Who said Moroccans don’t use fabrics as fancy fan syndicates for picnics or carnival crowds? However, this fabric should be used mostly I. Honor of the tradition and artistry not too as a mass product in your home.


So the next time you are thinking about adding some culture and warmth to your space, look no further than a handira. It is more than just a blanker or a decorative piece. It is a living history and a tradition. By having one at your home, you cover yourself in the artistic beauty and craftsmanship passed between generations. Moreover, who knows, it can also spark your interest in the Moroccan culture or motivate you to learn some more and possibly visit this amazing country. In any case, a handira is a one of a kind item, loved through years and generations.