You probably have, quite likely in a film set in a mysterious North African desert locale, but just didn’t know what it was called. You certainly can’t forget this high-pitched trilling howl that rapturously pierces the sky at any gathering where it’s shared.
Commonly practiced in various forms in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia and the Persian Gulf region, in Morocco, where this photo was taken, it’s used primarily in celebration and welcome rituals.
This was part of a traditional ahwash, or ahouach, in the village of Ait Iktel, a Berber village in the High Atlas mountain region about 100 kilometers south of Marrakech that I mentioned in a post last week here and here. (A 36-photo photo essay from the celebration is here. Please check it out if you already haven’t.)
Unique to this corner of the country, an ahwash is a traditional folkloric song and dance performance unique to this corner of the country, where women and men, standing opposite each other, chant, sway and sing as if engaged in a rhythmically sublime poetic conversation.