The people of Western Sahara are popular for speaking the Ḥassānīya dialect of Arabic, which is also spoken in northern Mauritania and Spain. The people of the country are of mixed Arab-Berber descent, although many of the population still consider themselves Arab. The Saharawis (people from Western Sahara) are a former nomadic and tribal people that share some cultural traits with Mauritania’s Berber, African, Arab, and Muslim heritage.
Generally, the Western Sahara society is marked by several customs, traditions and specific festivities, which is evident in their cultural piece of traditional wedding. Just as traditional wedding is of utmost importance in the culture of its neighboring country, the peculiarity is also evident in the country.
For traditional wedding in Western Sahara, the groom is always accustomed to wearing the Derra, alternatively Derrā’ah. This outfit can be described as a loose gown with two openings on either sides and a pocket on the breast. The gown is always either white or blue. However, under the Derrā`ah, men wear wide and loose pants which resemble the traditional pants worn by men in the northern Moroccan regions. The pants are made of an estimated seven meters of fabric. Lakchatt, which is the belt, is made of very smooth leader and endowed with a metal link, referred to as Al-Halkah. This is often long, thereby, touching the ground.
On the groom’s head, Sahraoui men do wear a black Lithām (a head and face cover).
Meanwhile, there is always difference in the interpretations given to the cover. This simply refers that while some believe that it symbolizes diffidence, others argue that it is intended to shield the face against heat, sun-burns, and the harshness of the arid environment.
Often times, the Sahraoui man may put on two white Derrā`ah underneath a blue one, just to stay fabulous for the wedding.
The Sahraouia bride in her sense of beauty do don in Al mlahfa. This dress is a four meter long by one meter and sixty centimeter wide piece of fabric/cloth. Although, not all of these loose women’s gowns are similar, but the women distinguish between those worn on special occasions, and casual ones worn by women on a daily basis. Age, also, is the determining factor for having different styles and patterns with the Al mlahfa.
Generally, the mode of wearing the mlhafa has not changed much; the only slight changes have to do with the kind of fabric used to make the dress. In recent times, varying fabrics, previously unknown to Sahraoui people, are now invading the markets. Nevertheless, these imported ideas have aided the Sahraouia couple to step up their fashion style for the big day.
Furthermore, in some parts of the Western Sahara, the soussia outfit is being worn for traditional weddings. The Soussia attire comes from the region of Souss and other Amazigh (Berber) regions, with varying colors and traditional patterns. The dress can be different from one Amazigh tribe to another. The wedding dress is chiefly characterized by different matching hairstyles. Also, the wealth and elegance that radiate across the jewelry used make the entire attire a special feature. The pieces are often made of stovepipe silver with enamel, amber, pearls, or shells.
The bride looks alluring wearing a special caftan style and a white and silver crown called “Tawnza” on her head. She is also beautified with silver bracelets called “Tanbalat” and “Tanzite,” and Amazigh earrings called and “Takhersin.” She then puts on a silver belt, and the Amazigh “Cherbil” (shoes) called “Edokan.”
In Sahraouia traditional wedding, the groom’s social scale is a function of the embroidery, colors, and fabric in which boubou is made. Most times, people with the low budget content themselves with a simple cotton-made Drâa and people with higher economic background do wear Bazin damask boubou. This fabric is primarily characterized by stiffness, brightness, and expensive costs.
Introduced to Africa by Persian invasion, sarouel is rather representative of Africa trousers. Fresh, aerated, black, white and blue, Sahraouia people love to wear it under their boubou.