Moroccan Wedding Blankets
Part glam and part bohemian chic, Moroccan wedding blankets, traditionally referred to as handiras, have slowly gained popularity over the last handful of years thanks largely to their neutral color — which makes them fit for any room — and characteristic sparkle — which makes them ultra unique.
So unique, the first time I saw them I was immediately smitten. They were fun and fresh with a touch of exotic. But it wasn’t until I got engaged that my interest truly piqued.
You see, my engagement ring has what could be considered a slight Moroccan flair. So I took it as a sign that a Moroccan wedding blanket would make the perfect wedding present to ourselves. Well, let’s be honest, to myself.
As fate would have it, a few weeks ago Danielle Donker, a Dutch woman living in Morocco who sells beautiful Moroccan wedding blankets among other items, contacted me about a previous post. Her e-mail was unbelievably kind, and I took it as further confirmation that a Moroccan wedding blanket was indeed in our future.
Immediately, I asked her to help me find the perfect one — which she is — as well as for more information about the blankets themselves, which seem to be shrouded in mystery. If you go looking, you won’t find tons of information about them.
Luckily, Danielle has the inside scoop. After spending time in the Middle Atlas region of Morocco with the Berber women responsible for the beautiful blankets, she’s learned a great deal about their rich history and significance.
The Moroccan wedding blanket is the equivalent of our wedding dress. Each Berber bride dons one on her wedding day. For months prior, she and the women in her family hand weave it while she is prepped on the ins and outs of married life — which was more than likely arranged.
On her wedding day, the bride rides on a mule from her home to her new husband’s family’s home — where she will live — with the blanket draped over her. During the ride her family and neighbors sing songs about “her qualities and the riches she will bring her new family.” When she arrives at her husbands home, further sing ensues, only this time it’s about her dowry.
Given the climate in the mountains can be extremely cold — especially in the winter — and the journey can be exceedingly long, the blankets are made to be super warm in order to keep the bride toasty throughout the ride.
If you look closely at a Moroccan Wedding blanket, you’ll notice they often have bushy bands. While neither are confirmed, Danielle has two theories for their purpose. The first, the bands may protect the blanket from being soaked by snow. Similar bands, which were used for that purpose, can be found on the back of Beni Ourain Handiras. The second, they may have been used to hide the brightly colored kilim embroidery found on the back of the blankets featuring significant symbols, such as fertility, protection and good fortune.
As for the silver sequins, Danielle’s heard three different stories. One, the shiny finish of the silver sequins wards off the evil eye. Two, reminiscent of coins, the silver sequins bless the bride with both good fortune and wealth. Three, quite costly, the silver sequins were a way for families to show off their wealth.
If you’re interested in adding a Moroccan wedding blanket to your decor, there are two types of available. The first are vintage, which are often the most highly desired. The second are freshly made versions by Berber women in cooperatives that provide a good source of income and keep the tradition alive. Typically, new Moroccan wedding blankets are those with the bushy bands in a grid pattern; however, there are some vintage blankets that bear that pattern.
If you decide to get a Moroccan wedding blanket, I’d highly suggest working with Danielle. There are also a handful of other vendors offering Moroccan wedding blankets:
• Beyond Marrakech, Danielle’s Store