As part of an effort to safeguard the vanishing Moroccan children’s toy and play heritage, in 2011 children’s folklorist Jean-Pierre Rossie donated a selection of 36 toys made by Anti-Atlas children with natural and waste material, as well as two from the Moroccan Sahara, to Museum Victoria.
With few exceptions, these toys were used in children's games between 2005 and 2011. They are witness to the current toy and play culture of these children for whom tradition and modernity coexist daily. The toys have been created by children living in three villages and in a small rural town.
The toy collection is the result of ethnological research on the play and toy cultures of North African and Saharan children that began in the Tunisian Sahara in 1975 and 1977. From 1992 until today this field research has been undertaken in Morocco, in rural and popular neighbourhoods. Since 2002 it has focused on the region of the Anti-Atlas.
The children themselves are the focus of the data obtained through personal contact, the observation of their games and of the construction of their toys. In this way the child perspective is privileged. But the memories of adolescents, adults and the elderly are also used primarily to illustrate evolution. The age of the children whose play and toy-making activities are presented varies between about 3 and 14 years.
The aim of the research is scientific as well as practical. On one hand there is the study of childhood though its games and toys. On the other hand there is the effort to contribute to the preservation of this disappearing heritage and to stimulate its sociocultural and educational use in Morocco as well as in a Western context.
Several documents and many pictures related to North African and Saharan children’s play and toy-making activities are available on a website (www.sanatoyplay.org) and on the website of the World Digital Library: Scribd (www.scribd.com, search: Jean-Pierre Rossie).
Jean-Pierre Rossie, 'An introduction to Moroccan children’s toys and games', www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/saharatoys.pdf?, accessed 25/10/2013