Tafilalt / ⵜⴰⴼⵉⵍⴰⵍⵜ
Panorama of the oasis of Tafilalet, seen from the ksar of Tingheras (Rissani).
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Tafilalt or Tafilet (Berber: Tafilalt, ⵜⴰⴼⵉⵍⴰⵍⵜ; Arabic: تافيلالت) is a region and the most important oasis of the Moroccan part of the Sahara Desert; it is also considered one of the largest oases in the world. Entirely located along the Ziz River, the oasis ten days' journey south of Fez, across the Atlas Mountains. It is celebrated for its large and luscious dates. Al Hassan Addakhil, ancestor of the reigning Alaouite Dynasty of Morocco, cultivated these with such success around 1250 that he could fund the dynasty's rise to power.
The inhabitants of the oasis and region occupy fortified villages (Ksar). In Ifli, the central portion, formerly existed the town of Sijilmasa, founded by Miknasa Amazighs in 757. It was on the direct caravan route from the Niger to Tangier, and attained a considerable degree of prosperity. Medieval traveler Ibn Batuta wrote about visiting Sijilmasa (near Tafilalt) in the fourteenth century on his journey from Fez to "the country of the blacks". It was later destroyed, but even its ruins extend five miles along the river bank.
The name Tafilalt is an Amazigh name with an uncertain meaning. It is a relatively recent name, in use only since the 16th century. The current royal family of Morocco, the Filalis, have taken their name from the region. Since 1648 it has been the custom of Moroccan sultans to despatch superfluous sons and daughters to Tafilalt.
The first European to visit Tafilalt in the modern era was René Caillié (1828), the next Gerhard Rohlfs (1864). A later visit to the oasis by WB Harris is described in his book Tafilet (London, 1895). "The oasis is ten days' (historic, by animal) or one day's (modern, by motor vehicle) journey south of Fez, across the Atlas."
It is the birthplace of Baba Sali.
In the Literature
Soldiers of Hell, a novell by the famous Hungarian pulp fiction writer, Jenő Rejtő takes place in the city.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Harris, Walter B. (1895), Tafilet; The Narrative of a Journey of Exploration in the Atlas Mountains and the Oases of the North-west Sahara, Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons.