Here we present you a short essay (短文) about Moroccan homes.
In urban or rural settings, a room is usually set aside for receiving and entertaining guests. That room is the pride of the family. Valued heirlooms, pictures of the dear, living or dead, and cherished souvenirs are displayed in the salon, an Arabicized word from the French. By the same token, the room’s furniture reflects the family’s degree of education and modernity. The “salon” is a very important room in the house; it is not the most frequently used. It is, paradoxically, both focal and peripheral. It is the center of the family’s formal social interaction with visitors, while it is physically located on the periphery of the home.
In Moroccan home, a door usually opens into a family room with a hallway and a number of rooms that are open either on the family room or on the hallways. In most homes all rooms look alike. The use and function of every room is decided upon by the family. However, the salon is usually the room farthest away from all others and the closest to the door leading to the outside.
The guest is exposed only to the most shining, formal, and stylized part of the home and gets to meet only the members whom the family intends for him to meet. In receiving the guest in the most distinguished part of the home and in having him meet only the members of the family dressed for the occasion, the guest is honored and the family status is reflected.
With close association and the development of friendship, a guest comes to be accepted by the family and received in the family room or what is commonly referred as the sitting room. However, between the time a guest is received in the salon and the time he is accepted as “one of us”, a translation from Arabic expression, certain social processes take place in terms of the guest’s relationship to the family. The pace at which the guest meets the members of the opposite sex in the host family, and the length of the interaction reflect the internal sociocultural norms of the family. For example, it is not unusual for two men to have known each other for a number of years without either of them having met the female members of the other’s family, even though they may know a lot about each other’s life. This is in contrast to a modern, westernized family in which a guest may meet most of the members during his first visit.
Until a guest is accepted and received informally in the family room his movement is usually restricted to the salon. Unlike the custom, in the United States, for example, where a guest wanting to use the toilet just gets up and heads toward the bathroom perhaps mumbling an “excuse me” or perhaps not, in Morocco, the guest asks for permission to go to the bathroom and for guidance to it. The request allows the host to go out first and check to make sure that the way to the bathroom is clear. That is, he makes sure that there are no family members that the host does not want to introduce to the guest, that those around are decent, and that the place is tidy and in agreement with the image that the host would like to create.
The most exclusive place in Moroccan home is the kitchen. Its territory is the domain of the household members and mainly the females in the family. To that extent it is the most intimate place in Moroccan home. A guest, whether male or female, has to have achieved the highest degree of familiarity with a family to be admitted to their kitchen. In Morocco, the men usually congregate together in the early evening and night hours in indoor or outdoor cafés. Meanwhile, the women visit together, and the young have uninhibited access to all parts of the home, since it is usually the presence of father or the elder male members in the family that regulates movement and noise in the home.
The Moroccan home, like others, reveals the authority system within the home, the roles and norms of behavior for each sex, and a culture’s outlook toward friends and neighbors. The home is a miniature replica of its society and a propagator of many of its values and patterns of communication.