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three pairs of lovers with space

N, 1931


Tribes of the Rif was written by American anthropologist Carleton Stevens Coon, Ph.D. (1904-81), following field studies in the Rif region of northern Spanish Morocco in 1926-8. It was published as Harvard African Studies, Volume IX by the Peabody Museum of Harvard University at Cambridge, Massachussetts in 1931.

The Rif had been inhabited by Berber tribes since prehistoric times.

Morocco Spanish. 1940 dtl 2
                                                                               The Rif region, 1940


“The time at which the bulk of these researches were made fell just at the close of the Riffian war, after Abd el Krim’s surrender and before all of the tribes had renounced their freedom.[1] Coming at that time I was luckily able to see Riffian life still led according to the old style, for a few weeks at least, and to record by witnessing them practices and customs now forever discontinued.” [p. vi]


Chapter IV.  Material Culture


hashisha. In the Beni Bu Nsar, Ktama, and other tribes in which sammet is made and eaten, hemp has been converted into a novel use. It is made into a paste and eaten. In this way an effect greater even than that obtained by smoking it results. Whereas kif-smoking is not often indulged in by women, members of that sex eat hashisha as freely as do their husbands. The eastward diffusion of these two traits of hemp-using seem to be accompanied by the correlated diffusion of a degradation of woman and by the practice of sodomy. Hashisha is distributed as is kif, but is also found in Beni Bu Nsar. [p. 62]


Chapter VIII.  Markets

Slave boys on sale 1930 d4

Boy Markets. In the Jebala[2], markets were formerly held in which boys stolen from their families were sold, to be used as apprentices by wandering musicians and as companions by ordinary individuals. They were and still are kept by their purchasers for the purpose of sodomy, and other uses to which these children are put are made secondary to it. When they have grown to an age at which they cease to interest their purchasers sexually they are released and allowed to earn their own living.

The market el Had Ikauen of Ktama was a famous boy market, and was not closed until the advent of the Spanish forces of occupation, who have been trying to prevent such sales, although it is difficult to stamp out private transactions.[3] Boy markets are found in the Western Arabophone Senhaja, Ghomara, and Ktama (also, of course, in the rest of the so-called Jebala, and centered at Sheshawen and in the tribe of Beni Zerwal). [pp. 110-1]


Chapter IX.  Public Buildings and Public Instruction


Riffian students deport themselves more or less in conformity with Riffian ideas of morality and decorum. They enjoy practical joking and general jollification, but do not indulge in the hashish smoking and sodomy practiced by students from the Jebala, who bring with them boys ostensibly serving as musical apprentices. Before European occupation, these western students did not meet with a warm reception in the Rif. They were frequently refused entrance to some districts. In others, so many jokes were played upon them that they left hurriedly and never returned. [p. 116]



[1] Abd el Krim declared the independence from Spain of the Republic of the Rif on 18 September 1921 and surrendered on 26 May 1926 after his rebellion was brutally crushed by the Spanish (with the help of both chemical weapons and the French). [Website footnote]

[2] The Jebala is the region to the immediate west of the Rif, and was inhabited by Arabic-speaking Berbers. [Website footnote]

[3] The whole Jebalan area is permeated with this type of sexual depravity, which is practiced without mutual shame or any attempt at concealment. In the Rif persons sometimes live and die without knowledge of its existence, and those who have travelled and seen it cannot mention it at home without falling into disfavor. It was punished during the recent war, in at least two known instances, by soaking the culprits in gasoline and burning them alive.
     This perversion, the only form known in this region, is accompanied in the Jebala by a low esteem for women, who perform the more arduous tasks of agriculture which in the Rif are done by men. A frequent sight in the Jebala is a troop of women marching long distances loaded down under heavy bundles of charcoal and other burdens, which in the Rif would be carried by mules or donkeys.
     Bride purchase, a trait common to all Moroccans but the Jews, is in the Jebala literally applied, since here the wife becomes a definite chattel of her husband, not usually the case elsewhere.
     The atmosphere created by this combination of cultural factors is in striking contrast to that of the Rif, which, although primitive, is wholesome and vigorous. [Author’s footnote]