It’s practically impossible to go to Morocco without at least talking about (if not experiencing) the ritual of the Hammam. And it’s no stranger to the site—Garance has talked about her bathing rituals, some of which are definitely derived from the Moroccan women in her life, here before.
In Morocco and other Islamic countries, the hammam is not only cleansing and relaxing, but it’s also social. It’s a place where women go to cleanse and catch up with friends. I’ve always found the tradition of a spa or bath house to be incredibly beautiful—to be together and totally comfortable with other women, nude and celebrating all different types of bodies, while practicing self-care. It seems like such a wonderful luxury.
When we were working on products for our Morocco shop, we spoke with both Jamie from Stories & Objects, and Vanessa from Chabi Chic, to create products that could be integrated into a personal hammam ritual—which focuses on cleansing the body from head to toe. We asked Diane, the head of the Spa at El Fenn, to explain the tradition of the hammam in her words.
Can you explain the ritual of the hammam?
Hammams, rhassouls, and serails are different kinds of steam rooms used for traditional cleansing rituals. A hammam ritual is an Arabian body treatment involving steam and cleansing black soap. In the hammam, your body is cleansed from head to toe. The ritual takes place in a humid steam chamber, a hammam attendant will douse you with water before applying the black soap to your skin and exfoliating it with a kessa glove.
Can you give some background on the ritual, historically?
The hammam ritual is a venerated Moroccan tradition, which has endured for centuries into the present day. Even now, thousands of Moroccans attend their local hammams weekly to cleanse themselves and enjoy a little bit of socializing and gossip on the side.
Why is it important in Moroccan culture?
Moroccan people go to the hammam to catch up with friends and socialize. Going to the hammam is a very important ritual in the Muslim culture. The bathing and cleansing is an integral part of a Muslim’s life, also because water is considered sacred in the Islam. The hammam is probably the oldest surviving bath tradition in the world.