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El Mehbes, Immortal Algerian Tradition

    El Mehbes, for those who do not know it, is a pot or bucket made of copper either white or red, with different sizes and decorated edges. It is considered a very ancient bucket; it goes back till hundreds of years. Some historians said that El Mehbes is of Ottoman origin and the Ottomans were the first one who entered it in 1594 as their tradition, during their occupation of Algeria. On the other hand, other historians said, it is of the Andalusian origin and it was known since the eight century. Despite the differences in views about its origin, it was adopted and still adopted by Algerians families as their tradition till now.

In the past it was made of red copper, which is rather heavy, solid, with no hand and with simple decorations. Today, it takes different shapes and colors vary between yellow and white, while the red copper bucket has disappeared, and takes different decorations on it.

    El Mehbes is a custom which is always associated with the bride's equipment, which some families seek to maintain despite the reluctance of some brides today to take it. Concerning its popularity nowadays; it knows a great spread just in some areas in Algeria such as Algiers, Tlemcen and Constantine, whose inhabitants still adhere to its use in weddings. Eventually, El Mehbes differs from one region to another; El Mehbes of Constantine is different from that of Tlemcen and the latter is different from that of Algiers’s in terms of decoration and shape.   

    El Mehbes has three functions, as originally used to save water; the first is linked to bathroom. It is taken by the bride to the bath filled with a collection of tools that accompanying women to the bathroom, including soap and shampoo ... The second function starts after the bride returns from the bath. The bride fills its bellow with honey, nuts, or sweets and takes it to her husband’s home .Also, El Mehbes has a decorative function, after eating what is inside of it, the bride cleans it and puts it on top of her closet or over the cabinet to decorate her house and whenever she wants to go to the bathroom, she takes it with her.

Written by ARAB Sabrina


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