Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

Tabourida: 16 striking photos of Fantasia horsemanship in Morocco

The display of horsemanship involves smoke, stomping, speed and the sound of gunfire

Every July, thousands descend on the small coastal Moroccan town of El Jadida for a highly performative and traditional exhibition of horsemanship.

The competitive event is known as Tabourida, or La'ab Al-Baroud, which translates to "The Game of Powder."

Famed French artist Eugene Delacroix popularised Tabourida on canvas in the 19th century, dubbing it "Fantasia," and the name has stuck ever since.

'Fantasia Arabe' by Eugene Delacroix 
'Fantasia Arabe' by Eugene Delacroix

The display involves a group of riders in traditional garb all charging at the same speed in a straight line, forming one seemingly solid unit. Then, near the end of the charge they all fire their rifles into the sky.

The difficulty lies in coordinating the speed so that all of the horses and riders move as if one, and in shooting the rifles at the same time so that it sounds like one large shot to the audience.

Generally the teams come from different villages or geographies, and there is a cash prize up for grabs.

The city of El Jadida is home to around 200,000 people and sits on the coast, almost exactly 100 kilometres south of Casablanca.

Updated: August 3, 2019 02:52 PM

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