Sur les traces des Maures, entre sable et poussière

Abstract : As I focus on the nomadic Moorish people (the Bīđ̣an) who live (or rather survive) in the desertic and semi-desertic Northwest Africa, I explore in this article their representations of the Sahara desert, in particular their representations of the sand, through the linguistic and literary resources of their dialect, the Hassaniyya. In the first part, I focus on the description of the landscape through three distinct themes. I start with a study of the various terms by which the sand is called, and highlight some observable shifts in meaning between classical Arabic and dialect. I study then the lexicon of the dunes, and how this semantic field is structured around the fundamental opposition between a dune that is "alive" and a "dead" dune. Finally, I discuss the question of the wind (especially sand storms, so common in the region) and its effect on the shape of the dunes. In the second part, I focus on the forms of life present in this world and the interaction of the Moors with their environment. I study the emblematic plants and animals of this biotope, more specifically the ones that have a particular importance for the nomads, and quote the many proverbs emphasizing their real or perceived characteristics. Finally, after presenting the poetic vision that the Moors sometimes have about the desert, I identify some of the lexical forms revealing the use they make of sand in their daily life. I emphasize the role that reading tracks takes in their life (and survival) and show that the word "tracks" itself is at the root of the expression of possibility.
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Catherine Taine-Cheikh. Sur les traces des Maures, entre sable et poussière. Techniques et culture, Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l'homme 2014, Vivre le sable ! Corps, matière et société (éd. par S. Boulay & M.-L. Gélard), 61, 2013/2, pp.188-209. ⟨halshs-01098722⟩

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