Fantasia (Arabic: الفانتازيا) is a traditional exhibition of horsemanship in the Maghreb performed during cultural festivals and for Maghrebi wedding celebrations. It is present in Algeria,Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania.
The performance consists of a group of horse riders, all wearing traditional clothes, who charge along a straight path at the same speed so as to form a line, and then at the end of the charge (about two hundred meters) fire into the sky using old muskets or muzzle-loading rifles. The difficulty of the performance is in synchronizing the movement of the horses during acceleration of the charge, and especially in firing the guns simultaneously so that one single shot is heard. The horses were bred from the Arabian and Barb breeds or a mixture of the two.
The fantasia is considered a cultural performance and a kind of martial art; it also symbolizes a strong relationship between the man (or woman) and the horse, as well as an attachment to tradition. It is historically related to the famous Numidian cavalery charge.
Fantasia performances usually take place during local seasonal, cultural or religious festivals, also called moussem ("saint's day festival" in Arabic).
History of the Performance
Tbourida comes from the cavalry charge performed by an army's vanguard in battle. It was also used in cavalry raiding and celebrations.
The horse is referred to as a fantasia horse and is of Arabian, Andalusian or Barb stock. The term “fantasia” is of Latin origin, meaning “entertainment”, or Spanish- Italian meaning “fantasy”.. Fantasia is also a name used by french Orientalists . The Arabic term mawsam, meaning season.
Fantasia in art
Some French, Sri Lankan and other Western artists have done oil paintings of the fantasia, including Edmon Vales, Eugène Delacroix, Étienne Dinet, Théo van Rysselberghe, Amiru K and Eugène Fromentin.
Fantasia performances in Algeria
Many of the Algerian troupes perform horse fantasia shows several times a year in different cultural events such as "fête Sidi Ahmed Almadjoub" in Naama, Algeria,"fête du cheval" in Tiaret, Algeria, or "fête annuelle Sidi Yahia Bensafia - Ouled N'hare" in Tlemcen, Algeria.
Tbourida in Moroccan sports
Moroccan troupes compete annually for the Hassan II National Tbourida Trophy during the Week of the Horse at the Royal Moroccan Equestrian Federation in Rabat, Morocco. They qualify for the finals through regionally organized competitions through the Federation and SOREC.
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