Cultures and traditions

- The wedding

The wedding is an event of great significance in the life of different Mauritanian communities, not only for its role in the preservation of values but also for the rapprochement it creates between families and ethnic groups.

The dowry and the status of the bride are generally fixed at the meeting of "Al-Aqd" (marital union) which is attended by parents on both sides, where during which the qadi or the imam, after the consent of everyone and before the witnesses, recites the Fatiha sourate. Immediately after, the wedding is celebrated with great joy especially in the closest family circles (parents, cousins, friends etc.). So, the wedding is an occasion where one can perpetuates the most authentic practices.

Among the Moors, the woman is dressed in black, and from this time on, the groom should not appear before his father-in-law or in front of the elders of his own family accompanied by his wife.

One of the traditions common to all ethnic groups is that while the bridegroom's friends come to retrieve the bride, her girls-friends hide her in a secret place, constraining the envoys to spend a lot of time researching her. The bride delivery is granted only against payment of keenly negotiated customary pledges.

- Henna

In Mauritania, as in the entire Arab-Muslim world, the use of henna has several purposes. It is as well used as a medicine, and such as a beauty treatment and a component of adornment.

In fact, the hands and feet of women are, on many occasions, decorated with quite elaborate drawings, which capture the attention and seduce. Women adorn themselves during wedding festivities, religious holidays, a birth, a trip or a return trip, or at the end of a period of viduity. However, henna is also a way of expression.

The hands, the feet thus become paintings where the artist pours his imagination, his fantasy, his attachment to the beautiful. Finally, these red and black colors, these patterns, this geometry of hands that draws a truth have a magical and fascinating aspect. The application of henna on the hands and feet is a mandatory part of the makeup of the new bride. That is why the profession of henna application is practiced by a large number of women, usually from the caste of blacksmiths or “Maalmin” known for their skills in the decoration and drawing of geometric figures.

There are two methods of applying henna: the first, called "Seir" is old, while the second known as "Zazou" or " Seringue " is modern. The best-known geometric shapes in Mauritanian henna bear different names and relative characteristics particularly '' Saggatt Simple '' which consists of covering the entire hands and feet with the product; '' Eddebye '', usually chosen by new brides, which covers the hands and part of the forearm, feet and part of the legs. This is the most expensive type. And '' Ettethwam '' that covers the ends of the fingers of the hands in addition to a small surface on the palm.

- Mauritanian music

Mauritanian music, widely practiced and appreciated in the country, is the sum of Moorish, Haalpulaar, Soninke and Wolof music, enriched from each other by contact and intermingling , and is strongly influenced by the musical heritages of Arabic and African peoples.

The modes and instruments of music among the Moors, Haalpulaaren, Soninke and Wolof are quasi-twin sisters.

The Moorish music or "Hawl" is somewhat different from its Negro-African sisters. It is a classical art rigorously codified, a scholarly art structured and sophisticated music born in the homes of warrior princes of whom it sings generosity and exploits. The Moorish classical music is based on fundamental principles that do not change, despite apparent differences according to the musical schools.

It is organized schematically from two concepts, the ways: black, white and g’neidye, defined according to the ideas of vigor or tenderness that they express, then, the modes: Kar, Vaghou, Sennima and Lebteit  that are the ramifications of the tracks to be played in an immutable order. If this kind of music produced by artists, Moorish Igawen, Wolofs Guéwel, Toucouleur Gawlo or Soninké Gesere, is elitist in its production and consumption, popular music, "Medh" in religious occasions is destined to general public. The traditional instruments are Tidinit, Ardine, Tbel ...

- Poetry

Mauritania was called the "country of the million poets", this name is not fortuitous, when we know that poetry is in all social circles the most appreciated art composed and written by most Mauritanian people. In addition it is recited, in thousands of poems, by almost everyone whether in classical Arabic or Hassania, Pulaar, Soninke or Wolof.

Almost every social group has its own singing. Among the Moors, poetic art is composed in two forms, "Al-Chi’r" in classical Arabic which is  "the monopoly of learned elites of society", and "legh'ne" in hassania, dialectal poetry accessible to almost everyone and widely circulated with the exception of "Tebrae" a short poem of two single lines reserved to women.

 In the Soninke communities, the " xaran sungu " is an example of Soninke poetry whose theme is essentially religious., in the halpulaareen, all the songs, whether it is the goumbala of the warriors (sebbés), the dilléré of the weavers (maboubés) or the pékane of the fishermen (soubalbés), if they do not sing the stories of the community, they express the community relationships with the environment or evoke the feelings of love among its peoples.