Ait Sidi Moulay Igherm – Saint’s House

 

Building Name: Ait Sidi Moulay Igherm.
Age: Sidi Ahmad U Ahmad built the igherm in the 15Th century. It is the oldest building in the region of Zawiya Ahansal.
Restoration Schedule: The estimated start date is summer 2016. The restoration will take approximately one to two years. Exact restoration time is dependent on weather, local holidays, and craftsmen and laborer schedules, and project funding.
Restoration Budget: $50,000+ USD estimated. ACF has secured $20,000 USD.

ACF thankfully acknowledges the financial contribution of Robert E. (a friend from Basle, Switzerland who fell in love with Morocco’s historical sites in the High, Central and Anti Atlas mountain regions) who has committed to donate 20’000 Swiss Francs (approximately 20’000 US$) for the restoration of the exterior of Ait Sidi Moulay Igherm in Aggudim.

Architecture: The Ait Sidi Moulay Igherm is the proudest structure in the region and holds a demanding position in the village of Aguddim. It is one of the most pure representations of the unique and detailed architectural traditions of the Berber’s of the Central High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It is located directly next to the cemetery and the grave of the region’s founding saint, Sidi Said Ahansal. The building and its neighboring cemetery are the most important and most famous pilgrimage location in the mountain range. It is the largest and the oldest building in Zawiya Ahansal.

The building is made of rammed earth, stone, mud bricks, and wood. The north and west facades of the igherm are sheathed in a layer of stone in order to protect the rammed earth structure from the region’s sever mountain weather, especially wind, snow and rain.

It is believed that master craftsmen from the south of Morocco built the building. There are similarities between the ighermin (plural of igherm) of Zawiya Ahansal and ighermin in Megdaz in the south of Morocco.

It consists of five floors, twenty rooms, and four towers. Some of the rooms are used to store the family’s grain, valuables, and gifts from the pilgrims. Other rooms are used as living quarters for the saint’s family. And, the first floor has two large salon rooms that are reserved for housing religious pilgrims.

Historical Purpose: The first purpose of the igherm was to house the pilgrims of Zawiya Ahansal – the followers of the local religious sect who come to visit the founding saint’s grave. The second purpose was as living quarters for the saint’s family and to store the pilgrims’ presents that were given to the saint’s families (barley, wheat, corn, olive oil, wood, and salt). Thirdly, it was built to be used defensively and to protect the valley from other tribes and foreigners. Finally, people from the village used to keep their fortunes because it was safe and well protected by guards – the saint’s family slaves.

Current Use: The current use is the same as the historic use. At the present time, the igherm is the living quarters of the saint’s family. It houses the family’s grain and valuables and most importantly, it is used to house the religious pilgrims. After restoration, the building will continue being used as it has been used since the 15th century.

Interesting Facts: It is a local tradition that the matriarch of the Ait Sidi Moulay family does not leave the igherm during the hours of daylight. This tradition is known as “Al Hijab” in Arabic that literally means “the veiling”. It is considered to be an honorable position for the woman (the saint’s wife). This unique tradition is still alive.

Past and Current Projects

Ait Ben Mouh Igherm – Communal Fortified Granary

Ait Ben Hmad Igherm – Communal Fortified Granary

Ait Ookdim Igherm – Saint’s House

Ait Sidi Mouh Igherm – Saint’s House

Ait U Amahdar Igherm – Saint’s House

Ait Sidi Moulay Igherm – Saint’s House