Jebala people

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Jbalas w. Légende.PNG
Map of Jbala's land in Northern Morocco
Total population
(approximately 1 million)
Regions with significant populations
Northern Morocco, mostly concentrated in the Western Rif Mountains
Jbala Arabic
Related ethnic groups
Arabs, Berbers

The Jebala (Arabic: جبالة‎, Moroccan Arabic:Jbala) are an ethnic group of north-western Morocco.


The word Jbala comes from Arabic Jbel which means mountain. Thus Jbala means mountain people. A man or boy is called a Jebli while a woman or a girl is called a Jebliya.[1]


The Jebala are mostly of Berber origin;[2] they adopted the Arabic language between the 10th and 15th centuries, influenced by Arabic-speaking townspeople of northern Morocco and Al-Andalus and the fact that their land lies on the route between these places.[3] Before the arrival of the Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym Arabs in the 12th century, the Jebala country was the only rural region where Arabic was spoken, and it still remains the only significant rural region where a non-bedouin Arabic dialect is spoken.[3]



A Jebala woman at a marketplace

The Jebala speak a non-hilalian Arabic dialect, which has a strong Berber substratum and which is influenced by the Spanish language due to proximity to Spain which also controlled areas of the region during the protectorate era (1912-1956).[3]


The traditional clothing for women includes shawls called "mendils" made from cotton or wool. These rectangular shawls are often woven in stripes of white and red in the region. They are wrapped around the waist to form skirts. They are also used as shawls and securing holding babies or goods on the back or front of the body.[citation needed]

The traditional man's outer garment is the djellaba, a one piece cotton or woolen cloak with a pointed hood. In the Jebela region the wool is usually un-dyed so dark brown and off-white colours are common. White djellabas are worn for religious festivals.[citation needed]

The Jelaba favour pointed toed leather slippers. Natural light brown, yellow and white are the most common colours. Reed hats are another traditional feature of Jebala dress for both men and women. Women's hats are often adorned with woven woollen tassels and roping of black, white and red in variations.[citation needed]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ J. Vignet-Zunz, « Djebala », Encyclopédie berbère, vol.16, Edisud 1995, p.2398-2408
  2. ^ (French) A. Zouggari & J. Vignet-Zunz,Jbala: Histoire et société, dans Sciences Humaines, (1991). (ISBN 2-222-04574-6)
  3. ^ a b c (French) S. Levy, EDNA n°1 (1996), Reperes pour une histoire linguistique du Maroc, pp.127-137

Coordinates: 34°44′02″N 4°48′36″W / 34.7340°N 4.8100°W / 34.7340; -4.8100