Riffians - Encyclopedia


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RIFFIANS, the name given to the Berbers of the Rif district of Morocco, the mountain region bordering the north coast from Ceuta eastward nearly to the borders of Algeria and forming part of the Atlas range. The name, it has been suggested, is identical with Libyan or Libi. A peculiarity of the Rif dialect is the change of the Arabic "1" to "r," and this would seem to support this derivation, "b" and "f" being interchangeable through "v." The Ruffians are only nominally subject to the sultan of Morocco, against whose authority they are in constant revolt. They are typical Berbers in physique, tall, well made and muscular, with European features and fair skins bronzed by the sun. In morality they are singularly superior to their neighbours. In order to prevent youthful unchastity, marriages are contracted between children of eight years old, the girl being brought home to live with the lad at his parents' home till a child is born, when a separate dwelling is provided for the youthful couple. The women are noted for their beauty. The Riffians understand and speak Arabic very little. They were among the fiercest and most cruel of the pirates of the north coast of Africa. Even now they are entirely untrustworthy in this respect. See further Berbers, Morocco, Moors, Kabyles, Mzabites.

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