Mauritanian wedding


In Mauritania, girls aged between five and 15 are sent to "fat farms" before their wedding to pile on the pounds. If a bride had stomach rolls, stretch marks and overlapping thighs, it signalled her husband was wealthy enough to keep her satisfied.


Why Mauritanian brides marry in black

In the West and most Arab countries, women traditionally celebrate their marriage in white, a symbol of purity. Black, meanwhile, is reserved for funerals. Not so in Mauritania. 

There, donning a black robe on your wedding day is a custom rooted in Bedouin tradition, and applies only to women: grooms get married in white.  

“Mauritanian women used to have incredibly pale skin and teeth…”


Amina is a teacher from Mauritania. 

The black dress that we wear to get married in is called the ‘lakhel'. It's a richly embroidered cloth of great quality, which starts getting sewn as soon as a girl is born. Not wearing it would be an affront to your tradition and customs. 

It's worn for three reasons: aesthetic, medical, and religious. 

  1. The story goes that Mauritanian women used to have incredibly pale skin and teeth, a sign of beauty that was amplified by wearing black. 
  2. It's also said that the fabrics used to make the dress - natural, and imported from neighbouring countries like Mali - help to get rid of dark spots on your skin. 
  3. And finally, Mauritanians say that the Prophet Mohammed wished for victory for those dressed in black."