The Melhfa is a type of clothing that distinguishes southern Moroccan women. As different from Jellaba; melhfa is a very large veil of brightly colored fabric. About 4 meters long, it wraps around the body to keep the wind fresh and keep the body at a low temperature.
Recently, melhfa has been revived by new generations who are trying to get closer to their grandmothers’ customs. However, some variations are to be observed. The younger ones now wear the melhfa with happier colors than before. Blue, and especially black, are no longer used as much and are now replaced by red or pink fabrics. The other difference with the “old” melhfa is the type of fabric, which increases its quality and is more suitable for use than young people nowadays. This return to customs and traditions greatly favors the development of melhfa production and contributes to the preservation of local Saharan traditions.
The melhfa is therefore a one-piece of fabric measuring 3.50 m by 1.60 m that serves as a clothing suit, emblem to this day of female elegance in the Saharan civilization, known as “Atlantic”, and which is an integral part of the Moroccan Sahraouian culture. Its geographical area extends from southern Morocco, through Mauritania to the Anti-Atlas and the Senegal River. Today, in southern Moroccan cities, from Laayoune to Dakhla, women and girls continue to have a passion for this garment with secular origins, choosing shimmering colors, matching handbags or shoes, when it is not to the temperament or taste of the moment.
Melhfa is a dialectal word derived from the Arabic word “lahafa” meaning to cover, wrap. It therefore refers to a female costume, this draped in a single piece of fabric that serves as a beautiful ornament for the Saharan woman.