This book is meant to be a kind of apology for a serious omission of which I was guilty when I wrote my History of Human Marriage y over twenty years ago. In that book I devoted only a very short chapter to the wedding ceremonies, and in my brief treatment of them I almost entirely failed to recognise their magical significance. This was afterwards strongly emphasised by Mr. Ernest Crawley in his theory that the ceremonies of marriage are intended to neutralise the dangers supposed to be connected with all contact between man and woman and with the state of marriage itself, as also to make the union safe, prosperous, and happy — a theory which, as he himself acknowledged in the Preface to The Mystic Rose was founded on Dr. Frazer's discovery of the primitive conception of danger attaching to the sexual act. For my own part I shall not here make an attempt to lay down any general theory as to the origin of marriage ceremonies, but shall restrict myself to the wedding customs of a single people, namely, the Muhammedan natives of Morocco, among whom I have spent some six years engaged in sociological research.
These natives are chiefly of Berber race, although the Berber language, which before the arrival of the Arabs undoubtedly was spread over the whole country, is nowadays mostly restricted to mountain districts.
The Berber-speaking tribes, to whom alone the term "Berbers" is popularly applied, may be divided into several groups. There are the Berbers of the Rif, called RuAfa, whose country extends along the Mediterranean coast from the neighbourhood of Tetuan to the Algerian frontier ; the Briber, who inhabit the mountain regions of Central Morocco and the eastern portion of the Great Atlas range ; the Shlob, who inhabit the western part of the Great Atlas and the province of Sos, situated to the south of it — a territory the eastern frontier of which may be roughly indicated by a line drawn from Demnat in a south-easterly direction, and the northern frontier by a slightly curved line uniting Demnat with Mogador on the Atlantic coast and following the foot of the mountains, or, in some places, intercepting a strip of the plain ; and the Driwa, who inhabit the valley of the Wad Dra in the extreme south of Morocco.
As a fifth group must, from a linguistic point of view, be counted various tribes living in the neighbourhood of Ujda, in the north-east of the country (At Buz6ggu, At Zihri, At 'Amir, At Shbfil, At LmMi, At Yiznisfin, At YAla, and At Ubihti).