- News From Libya -

El Maiz: Libya’s Equestrian Tradition

 Dec 01, 2020

Across the nations of North Africa, equestrian racing and showmanship has long been part of both the region’s culture and traditions. Known in English as Fantasia, this traditional exhibition of horsemanship is now performed during cultural festivals and some North African wedding celebrations, present in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, and, of course, Libya. 


Known in Libyan Arabic as El Maiz, the performance consists of a group of horse riders wearing brightly colored traditional clothing, who charge along a straight path at equivalent speed. Forming a solid line, the riders at the end of the charge (approximately 200 meters) must fire into the sky simultaneously, using old muskets or muzzle-loading rifles. This performance of horsemanship requires much practice and skill, as the goal is to synchronize both the acceleration of the charge and the gunshot, in order to simulate a single, loud shot. 


 Today, Fantasia performances in Libya usually take place during local, seasonal, cultural or religious festivals across the country. However, while this cultural practice has long been part of Libyan tradition, as Libya has faced civil war after civil war, the practice has undergone challenges and setbacks. However, El Maiz has resurfaced in full force, unifying Libyans across the country over the pride of tradition and history.

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