Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

A Man and His Dowry

In many parts of North Africa, at the time of the proposal the families discuss the dowry the man is willing to pay to get his bride.

The dowry is usually paid in cash and kind.





Several blogs by women travellers talk of cute incidents where young men proposed to them stating “I will gladly pay 35 camels for you”.  🙂

Camels, cattle, mules, jewelry, furniture, embroideries & weavings are all popular as dowry gifts.

In the olden days the bride was carried on a mule to ger husband’s house.

And on this journey she was accompanied by a small procession of family and friends singing about her dowry and gifts for her new family.

The dowry was even documented into the contract and was admissible in courts to resolve disputes.


The practice of documenting the list if gifts given as the dowry is not uncommon.

In India in some communities, the dowry is displayed  before the wedding.  In others a senior uncle is appointed as an accountant or bookkeeper to keep track of and tally all that was gifted inward and outward. Such documentation is preserved for a few years to check back on for future planning of reciprocity.

This cultural tradition of dowry documentation is therefore not an unfamiliar one.

So why did this resurface today?

Because this young man and the his woven-paradigm reminded me of it.

In this Moroccan weaving he is shown surrounded by abundant nature –  flora and fauna or various types.

The richness of raw materials – with motifs in silk or silky wool or silky cotton – suggests that this is a dowry weaving.


But beyond that, could it be that this is a woven document enumerating the gifts that were given at his wedding?


19 hens,  10 roosters and 6 sturdy camels?


This very-interesting figurative Kilim from the early-mid 1900s is going to hold my attention for awhile!

By the way I found this tongue-in-cheel calculator that revealed that I am worth 25 camels …. if you enjoy smiling and do not take life too seriously you could check out too!

More photos of the weaving coming soon!



Jaina Mishra
MENSA member








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