Robin Hood in white robes

Tangier at the turn of the 20th century was an exciting place to be.

“In 1904, 64-year-old Ion Perdicaris and his stepson found themselves taken hostage from their villa in Tangier, Morocco by a scruffy band of rifle-toting Berber tribesmen on horseback. The bandits’ chieftain was flamboyant, black-bearded Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli, and he wanted to extort a heavy ransom from the Sultan of Morocco.

sultan morocco

Morocco was then the only independent country try in North Africa. But the sultan, Mulia Abdul-Aziz, was a weak puppet who played with his collection of grand pianos while rival bands of warlords tore his country apart.


image found here

“Morocco, at that time,” wrote Mathilde Bedford, “had no roads, not even a carriage or wheel of any kind, so we went everywhere, even at night to dinners and dances, on horses and donkeys, and if it rained, I was carried in a sedan chair on the shoulders of four Jews.


image found here

Raisuli was widely known for his chivalry and respectful attitude towards his hostages.

“He pledged Ion Perdicaris that he would defend him from any harm, and was known to have befriended many of his other hostages. However, towards those who were not worthy of ransom, or the emissaries of the Pasha and the Sultan, he was known for cruelty, once burning out a Moroccan emissary’s eyes with heated copper coins, and returning the head of another to the Pasha in a basket of melons.


image found here

Another of Raisuli’s captives was the British correspondent for The Times, Walter Harris

Harris’s exploits as a traveller in the primitive fanatical Morocco of those days aroused highest admiration. In the art of disguise he excelled. Nature had favoured him as to eyes, complexion, and features and still more, in a gait which was not that of a person habitually wearing heeled shoes. To these he added talk, gestures, deportment, and, above all, dress to the life. His favourite disguise, that of a Riff, “Shilha” speaking people, diverted attention from anything strange in his Arabic. In that disguise he was the complete fanatical looking type, with shaven head but for a foot long lock hanging from the crown, red guncase for turban, short brown jehab, bare reddish tanned neck and legs, carrying a long native musket, and glancing furtively as he went, just as men from home do

yuri gagarin and friend

image of Yuri Gagarin found here

Besides his literary gifts and his wit and perennial gaiety, Harris had other qualities which account for his success. There was no subject which he could not adorn, an unwanted umbrella which kept on returning to him; handshaking, pyjamas on board liners, a Berber chieftain’s innocent request for a machine to translate all wireless into Arabic, and currency and credit among the simple Yap islanders of the Pacific.


image found here

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 8:12 am  Comments (31)  

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31 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. …and returning the head of another to the Pasha in a basket of melons.

    Torture me, baby!

  2. I really have to go back to Morocco.

  3. Raisuli was NOT a graduate of the Dick Cheney Charm School for Hosting Your Hostages.

    Is Robin Hood in white robes a reference to Michael Penn’s “Romeo in black jeans” from his No Myth?

    • No it wasn’t. It was a line somewhere in the article

  4. “And the award for best use of 11 1/2″ plastic nippled dolls in a cultural information website goes to…”

  5. Hmmm…that picture doesn’t seem to capture what I imagined a comfortable sedan chair to be.

  6. I had a boyfriend in high school who could do that with the piano. We never had to worry about his mom thinking we were being too quiet in the rec room.

  7. Nurse Myra you are always full of fascinating tales. Not so keen on the hot copper coins to the eyeballs, but wouldn’t mind being hauled around on a chair!

  8. The story is interesting but the pics are fascinating!

    • I’m surprised no one has commented on the photo of Yuri Gagarin. I mean what the hell is he doing????

      • You know, I didn’t click his photo until now…WTF IS he doing?? Such a clean cut guy in all the other photos. How do you find these sites?

  9. I can see why the Grand Piano’s would appeal

  10. Morocco is one of my favorite countries in the world! Every time that I have to go to Gibraltar for a week I make sure to get over to Tangier for at least a day. Last time it was only for a couple hours but I love it!

  11. Great story, but I’m still marvelling at the perfection of the melon picture, as it pertained to the story. To quote my inner A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together!

    • Ginny, I had no photos in my cache that were suitable for this post, I had to source new ones. Couldn’t believe my luck with what I found

  12. I cant make up my mind which is worse – your head being returned in a basket of melons, or getting shot in the ass by Cheney 😛

  13. Camp comes to mind …… several times a day actually ……

  14. Dear Nurse,

    This has little to do with Morocco, but as a medical professional I felt you were the right person to turn to with my question. Due to the downturn in the global economy, I have recently begun serving as a prostitute to some of the older women that I meet in the pool at the health club in the “Joints in Fluid Motion” water exercize class. I recently serviced Dora who was raised in Alabama and is 83 (my oldest ever!) I quickly discovered that her vagina is so old, it has a separate entrance around back for black men. This is not to be confused with the anus as, believe me, I know the difference. The “colored entrance” proved to be not only a fascinating artifact but also a convenient place to rest my ring finger. My question is, as a sexologist, what do you know aboaut these and when did they stop making this intriguing relic of America’s Jim Crow period?


    Dim Jandy

    • Are you making much money with that little venture?

      • I made the mistake of starting out with a sliding scale based on ability to pay. So far, it is really little more than walking around money. Is it a bad sign that I draw raucous belly laughs when I talk about raising my rates? Some of these old gals are real snorters.

        Clawed Reins

  15. Here’s lookin’ at you kid.

  16. Apparently according to the other pictures on the site with the sedan seat slave dolls, the women of Minoa were constantly topless. And it was also rather chilly there too.

  17. I used to use Jews on my sedan chair, but I switched over to Latvians when I found they gave me better mileage.

    • Are they also cheaper to feed?

  18. I wish i could pay someone to haul me around on a chair *sigh*

  19. I was one of the 4 who carried that sedan chair.

  20. Yuri really was a space cadet wasn’t he

  21. Brava!

    note in passing: 1904 was the year that Aleister Crowley received (in Egypt), his “transmission” that eventually became “The Book of the Law”. Shortly after that, in 1907, he and Victor Neuburg moved to Tangier where they supposedly performed a number potent workings – or at least, made a lot of noise.

    I’m not a Crowley-ite, but this item made me wonder how A.C. and co. were received by this lot.

    • btw, funny you should mention Yap. I’ve been doing some research on this place. A merchant from here in Savannah went that way in the 1870’s, was shipwrecked, saved by the Yap islanders and eventually became their king. When he died in 1901, he left behind three wives (two in Yap and one in Sav.), about a dozen kids and a healthy estate of 1.5 million dollars – a tidy sum back then. The head of the modern-day “Yap Government In Exile” still bears his name. (NY Times article on O’Keefe’s death)

      Detailed info is hard to come by. I have not read the book, which I hear is somewhat dramatized, and the movie was no help at all.

      • wow, that’s fascinating John. Bet he didn’t have three wives in the movie 😉

  22. You are correct. They didn’t even let him bed the dusky beauty who had the hots for him. He married the only white woman in the tribe. Tiki fever could only go so far, I guess.

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