What’s a Moroccan Wedding Blanket: Berber’s Sparkling Throw for Love and Protection

Last Updated on September 13, 2022 by Safaa (founder of moroccanzest)
Moroccan wedding blanket handira bride marriage

What’s a Moroccan Wedding Blanket: Berber’s Sparkling Throw for Love and Protection

I grew up in Morocco fascinated by the beauty and textures of Moroccan wedding blankets. Even as a child, I knew they were not ordinary blankets. The precision of the handwork was amazing. But as I grew up and learned more about them, it turned out that the story behind them is even more special than their exquisite embroidery and sequins.

The Moroccan wedding blanket also called the Handira blanket or the Handira throw is a favorite traditional Moroccan item used in my design projects. Besides the fact that it adds a beautiful exotic touch to any room, this creamy, sequined blanket also carries a beautiful and romantic cultural background, making it loved and cherished by interior designers.

Moroccan handira
Moroccan Handiras / Wedding blankets are often used by designers to decorate beds and sofas

Moroccan Wedding Blankets History and Tradition

Moroccan wedding blankets are traditionally worn by Moroccan Berber brides. The Berbers, also called the Amazigh, or Imazighen, are the descendants of the pre-Arab inhabitants of North Africa. While there are many Berber tribes in Morocco, the wedding blankets are mainly used by the brides of small rural tribes located in the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco.

moroccan atlas mountains
The Moroccan middle Atlas Mountains

Moroccan Berber blankets are an essential item in a bride’s outfit. They are also a sentimental piece meant to empower the bride and prepare her for her new life.

Each Berber throw is hand-woven and hand-decorated by the bride’s female circle prior to the wedding. Many Berber mothers start weaving and decorating the Handira when their daughters are still young. The girls grow up familiar with their wedding blanket even before understanding what marriage means.

moroccan wedding blanket berber bride
Moroccan wedding blanket on a Berber bride, Morocco

A few months before the wedding day, the tribe women would gather and decorate the throw with talismanic embroidery and mirrored sequins, while teaching the bride about her future life as a woman and as a wife.

Women who participate in this process are from the bride’s family, but also women believed to bring baraka, the Moroccan word for good luck and prosperity. The mirrored sequins, called mouzoun in Berber, are believed to ward off the evil eye and protect the future wife and her husband from bad energy. They beautify this blanket as they reflect the light on sunny days and sparkle near fireplaces.

This weaving and decorating ritual is a well-preserved tradition, passed from mother to daughter. The patterns are the results of the imagination of the women decorating the throws, giving each Handira a unique design and an inestimable value.

The making process can take days, if not weeks or months, depending upon the complexity of the weaving and the design.

On her wedding day, the bride wears her wedding blanket atop her head for the journey to her new home, spiritually empowered by other women’s wisdom sharing. She is carried to her new house on a mule or horse to meet the groom in her adornment complete with colorful accessories.

Moroccan wedding blanket handira bride marriage
Moroccan wedding blanket on a bride, Morocco

After the wedding day, the bride uses her Moroccan wedding blanket on the marital bed, to keep warm but also as a decorative piece.

wedding blanket handira
Moroccan Handira as a decorative blanket | source: beyondmarrakech

Buying Authentic Moroccan Wedding Blankets

A few years ago, these wedding blankets were unknown outside Morocco. Now that they became a much sought-after decor piece, real, authentic Moroccan wedding blankets cost a virtual fortune.

Authentic wedding blankets are very durable and can be passed down through generations. Of wool, they are hand-woven and hand-decorated. If the Handira is colored, the dies should be made from plants and natural minerals.

While white and cream colors are the most used, Moroccan Berber wedding blankets come in many hues, with different patterns and decoration styles.

Deep green Moroccan wedding blanket on a sofa | source: justinablakeney
Moroccan wedding blanket with Kilim
Moroccan wedding blanket with Kilim patterns

Because this blanket is so loved worldwide, there is more and more imitation being seen on the market. You can spot imitation by a few indicators. If the material is not wool, and/or if the blanket is really light, it’s probably a fake.

moroccan handira throw
Traditional wedding blanket with wild fringes and pink details, imported from Morocco and available at little Moroccan things

The price should also be a concern. If your Handira wedding blanket is way too cheap, it’s probably not authentic. Your best bet to get an authentic Moroccan wedding blanket is to source it from a reputable seller.

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recommendations

March 29, 2021

i’m looking for a handira blanket for my master bedroom, i have a king bed, do you have any recommendations of a good seller from morocco, thank you

heather fiorell

Response from Moroccanzest

Hi Heather, I know it’s hard to find authentic wedding blankets nowadays and chin-ese imitation. I added a few links for authentic Handira blankets handmade in the Atlas mountains in morocco. I hope you like them -xx

beautiful

March 29, 2021

thank you for the great tips. I purchased a wedding blanket for my sister as a wedding gift and she loved it! She did not know about it so I sent her your article. She is now using it in her master bedroom as a decoration piece and she loves the symbolism behind it. thank you I always check your website for morocco-related subjects, such a great resource!

dana bordereau

interesting facts

January 21, 2021

I own a handira and I never knew about all the tradition behind it. thank you!

Lara johnkzky

Learned a lot

January 5, 2021

My mother in law gifted me a Moroccan wedding blanket after her trip to Morocco. She told me its a special piece and I googled it to learn more. Thank you, your information makes this piece more special to me.

Keira

Safaa, founder of moroccanzest

From design and decor to food and travel, moroccanzest is the space where I share what I loved growing up in Morocco, and more. It’s your destination for everything beautiful, artistic, and made the Moroccan way with love. Learn more about me here.