Northwestern

Drawing of a guinbri. Reproduced from Georg Hjersing Høst, Reports on Morocco and Fes (Efterretninger om Marokos og Fes: Samlede der i Landene fra ao. 1760 til 1768). Copenhagen: N. Möller, 1779. Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, DT308.H83 1779. Photograph by Clare Britt

From at least the 19th century, the word “Gnawa” has been used in Morocco to refer to the descendants of enslaved people from the Western Sudan. The term is now associated with “black” Moroccans who entertain in public squares and on concert stages. The guinbri is the most prestigious of all Gnawa musical instruments. This 18th-century account by Georg Høst of his travels in Morocco is the first known mention of a guinbri in European literature. The instrument may derive from one that the 14th-century Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta described as being played at the court of the Mali Empire, which he called the gunburi.