What are Mozuna ropes? Mozunas are Moroccan metal sequins, originally made in silver. The ropes have them strewn in tiny loops along their length, and as far as I know, are used for decorating camels and horses. Like a lot of other similar adornment, dancers have adopted them. And why wouldn’t we? They can be wrapped around hips, layered over skirts, tied with hair; they have shiny metal discs that bounce and reflect the light. They are wonderfully versatile yet lightweight.
Sadly they can be a bit difficult to find outside of Morocco. Artemis Import in the US has them often, so does Tribe Zuza in the UK, but finding the colour you want can be trickier. Furthermore, us plus sizes do need longer lengths for our wider hips, and quite often the imported ones are shorter, about 1 metre long.
I’d advocate, if possible, to obtain them directly from the local artisans. However, not all of us can do this (either directly or by proxy), or we might want something special. Luckily, they are easy to make. You will need:
- a decent amount of thin yarn, in your choice of colour: this needs to be thin but not *too* thin; I’d also suggest using wool that is not too fluffy, or some type of cotton/viscose yarn.
- Mozunas: try to get the original Moroccan; if not, vintage metal flat sequins should work; normal plastic flat sequins will work in a pinch, and of course you could try other types, but they won’t look the same
- one wool needle (short, thick, with a big eye)
Start by preparing the strands for your braids. You’ll need about 1.3x the length of your finished braid per strand, so about 3 metres for a 2.3 metre rope. When preparing these, it’s easier if you loop the yarn around fixed heavy objects to keep them in place and with some tension. So you will need a lot of space. How many threads per strand will depend on the thickness of your yarn; I used 45 loops for each of mine, which turned into 90 threads once I removed the loops from the fixed points, and extended them as a single braid strand. Realistically, I could have used even more to make it a bit thicker. Make three of these strands (so, three strands at 90 thread each), making sure you keep them laid out and as stretched as possible.
Once you’ve got all three strands, tie them at the top, leaving a bit that will become a tiny pompom, secure this somewhere like a door knob, and start braiding. You will want to keep the strands as separate as possible as you do. This will be fiddly but not difficult, you could use some cardboard squares with a slit to insert the bottom of each thread and wrap it, to make them easier to manage and prevent tangling. Just don’t braid more than 4-6 passes without untangling the strands, and don’t braid too tightly. Braid to the end, and tie it, this time make the knot TIGHT. Trim both ends so the ends are even and look fluffy
Now grab a double thread of your same yarn, thread through the needle, tie both ends so you have a four-thread strand, and put through the braid, securing it with a knot if necessary. If your yarn is a bit thick, you might only need the yarn doubled. Use your criteria, you want the loops to be strong. String a mozuna, leave about 1-2cm and string back in through to the other side of the braid, and do the same there. When you’ve put the mozuna loops on both sides, knot in place (to prevent unraveling) then put the needle along the rope, about an inch; bring it out, and do the same. Continue knotting and stringing until you reach the end of the rope. If you are feeling extra fancy, or want to add even more bling, do the same but this time along the sides of the braid, not top and bottom, and using the space in between the original loops so there’s more surface with metal. Once you’re happy with the amount of mozunas you’ve added, add beads over the end knots if you want; this will also help secure them.
Your mozuma rope is done.
You can get your yarn from local haberdashery, or Hobbycraft, I recommend you figure out how much you’ll need. I’ve done mine using lace-weight yarn that I’d bought for a hip shawl but found to be too thin. It has red lurex, so it’s a bit more showy. I used about 800 metres (one and a half 500m cones), you will use less if your thread is thicker. But yarn is measured by weight not length, so ask the attendants for approximations. Crochet yarn should be suitable; make sure you are not buying something that will unravel or cut easily. Buy all the yarn at once as the colour can be different depending on the dying batch.
Artemis Bazaar in the US and Hillary’s Bazaar in the UK both sell Mozunas. They are inexpensive, and you shouldn’t need a lot, 200 should be enough for a 2.5m rope with one pair every 2.5cm; double that if you want the second layer of mozunas.
Do you have mozuna ropes? What’s your favourite way of using them? Tell me in a comment!
Have fun, and happy making!