Fairy Tales in Different Cultures--a Moroccan Snow White

While we have been in Africa for awhile with our Snow White stories I thought I would share one from Morocco too. Again this is a story that I have not shared with Hazel as it would definitely scare her.The story is called "The Jealous Mother" and I found it translated in English in Moroccan Folktales by Jilali El Koudia. 
Source: Google

Now for a bit about Morocco. Morocco is a country in Northern Africa. It joins Spain and France as the only countries to have coasts on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The official name is the Kingdom of Morocco. The Arabic name translates into The Western Kingdom or The West. It is often called these as well. The capital is Rabat, but the largest city is Casablanca. Morocco has a history of independence unlike the other countries we have been sharing lately.

Source: Google
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco has much power including the power to dissolve the parliament. His decision also overrides the parliament if there is a contradiction. 

Morocco has the coastlines and many mountains as well as the Sahara Desert. Needless to say the climate varies greatly. Morocco is also the only African country not in the African Union. (Source)

Now my experience with Morocco is very limited. I met a Moroccan man who claimed to instantly fall in love with me and want to marry me. He invited me to come meet his family in Morocco. I did not go. However several people warned me that if I did there were very strict things I needed to know about traveling as a single woman there. This made me look up some information on women's rights in Morocco. In 2004 the parliament tried to improve women's rights. What they passed included a man not being able to take another wife without his wife signing off on it. In 2006 a royal decision granted women to be able to pass their Moroccan citizenship to their children (previously it could only be passed by the father). In 2009, women were granted the right to divorce without their husband's consent. (Source) Needless to say it sounds like they still have some work to do there.

Now onto our story. Similar to the version from Algeria, the Morocco version has a beautiful mother who talks to the moon. The moon tells her that the child in her womb is more beautiful and of course the mother gets jealous. The mother has the trusted midwife bury the baby as soon as it is born and to replace it with a puppy dog. The mother paid the midwife a great deal of gold to do this. The midwife produced a puppy, but she took the girl away and secluded her inside her own house and took care of her. 

The husband of the beautiful woman was ashamed when he saw God had given them a puppy dog and threw the dog away. The midwife raised the baby as her own and named her Lalla Khallalt El Khoudra. She grew to be very beautiful and people would compare any woman's beauty to that of Lalla. Her birth mother heard of her and asked the midwife to send her over to help her untangle her ball of yarn. 

When the birth mother saw the girl she was overcome with jealousy. She gave the girl the ball of yarn and told her to walk until it was untangled. The girl ended up in the land of ghouls. Her mother cut the yarn when she guessed Lalla had walked that far. Lalla could not find her way home and night had fallen. When she saw all the strange creatures in the land she guessed she had entered the land the midwife had told her about and she was afraid she would be eaten alive. She hid herself in a thatch roof. The house that she chose to hide in was one of seven ghoul brothers. They had a slave to cook for them. Every morning the ghouls went out to hunt and the slave remained to prepare their food. The slave heard something on the roof and saw the beautiful woman. Lalla begged her for food and drink. She gave her some but advised her to stay hidden from the owners. Lalla repeated this every day. She would join the slave and help her prepare the food and then hide herself again. The brothers noticed a difference in the food. They wanted to figure out what was happening, so they had the youngest brother stay behind hidden to see what the slave was up to. 

The youngest brother stayed hidden, but saw the slave and Lalla cooking together. Then he jumped out. Lalla was scared, but the brother was kind and gentle and when he looked in his eyes he fell in love with her. The next day the brothers held a wedding ceremony for them. With the presence of Lalla all the brothers were happy. Lalla took over the care of the brothers. The slave became neglected, but she made Lalla promise her that they would always share everything equally.

One day Lalla tried to wake the slave to share a bean with her. Since the slave pretended to be asleep, Lalla put the half bean away, but it was lost when she tried to find it for the slave later. The slave was very angry and took revenge later by putting the fire out. Lalla had to go to a neighbor to ask for fire. She went to the ghoul next door, but he insisted on cutting her for the fire. She allowed him to do it and she dripped blood home. The next day he followed the blood to her and forced her to allow him to suck her blood from her finger or he would eat her. He did this every day.

The brothers began to notice the changes in their food and in Lalla. They did not understand why she did not seem happy when they showered her with gold, silver and jewels. The youngest brother stayed home to find out what was happening. He saw the neighbor come and drink her blood. He waited for his brothers and they decided they would all stay home the next day. They captured the neighbor, and set to kill him and then turned on Lalla for allowing him to visit. She wept and told them the whole story and they threw the slave into the pit with the neighbor and set them on fire. 

Awhile later a salesman who is referred to in the story as a Jew came selling his wares. Lalla came out and chose some and then gave him a large bag of silver and gold. She asked if he every knew a certain tribe and he said he did and she sent a message to her mother through him.

A few months later, he was with that tribe and her birth mother was purchasing things from him. She paid with a few balls of wool. He made a comment about how she did not pay like Lalla and the mother asked for more details since she was her mother. He told her how she was like a queen to the ghouls. The mother ran to  find a gift to send to Lalla and she wrapped a ring in a cloth and asked the salesman to give it to her next time he saw her.

In two months the salesman returned to the land of ghouls and saw Lalla. She bought some of his wares and he gave her the gift her mother sent telling her she suggested she put the ring under her tongue. She said she would and after the salesman left, she did. She became in a deathlike state and the ghouls came home that evening and found her frozen in the spot. They were so sad. They built her an attoush (a sofa like thing) and put it on a camel. The camel was told to go everywhere and stop for no one unless she heard her code name which was Naala or a shoe. The camel rode everywhere and eventually wandered into a kingdom of a rich and famous sultan. His guards told him about the camel with gold and silver on it and he wanted to catch it. The camel outsmarted the guards, but an old woman promised to get it and then lost her shoe and the camel stopped when she heard the woman yell about her shoe. 

When the sultan saw Lalla, he fell in love with her. He had his physicians examine her. When they found the ring under her tongue, they removed it and she slowly came back to life. The sultan married her. She however never forgot her seven ghoul brothers. When the camel had healed after all the walking, Lalla made plans to return. She waited until her husband would be gone for the day and she left, but the guards saw her and the sultan told them to follow her. The camel however once again outsmarted them. Lalla returned to her griefstruck brothers and they were all happy again.

Now part of what I like about this story is that the heroine does not stay with the sultan and goes back to where she was happiest.


  1. Fascinating story. I can see why you didn't share it with Hazel! I like too that Laila returned to the brothers rather than stay with the sultan. Thanks for sharing at the Culture Swapper!

  2. Even I find it scary - African tales were clearly not meant for children. Thanks for sharing them with us!


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