The Dama game

Frantz Charlet

The Dama game
Oil on panel signed and dated 1891 lower left
Dimensions : 
56 x 76 cm / 22.05 x 29.92 inch
Dimensions with frame : 
94 x 114 cm / 37.01 x 44.88 inch

Description of the artwork

This beautiful painting by Frantz Charlet is a work made during his second visit to Morocco. He depicted seven children around a game called dama, inspired by Spanish checkers. We easily recognize the headdress of the Rif’s children. Bold head with a strand of hair in the centre of the skull, is a tradition that dates back to ancient Egypt. This old style for boys aims to fight against evil and the evil eye. The boys are sitting on the floor on a traditional kilim carpet. 
Frantz Charlet translated into this composition all the elements that constitute his everyday life in Morocco. These boys are certainly the spinner’s children working next to his house. Moreover, it is likely the children must have been models for their mother too. As one can see in this work, a young boy is dressed with a caftan – traditionally a woman dress -, but his face is hidden, for the artist wants to respect the decency and the innocence of his young model.

This picture highlights the northern Morocco arts and crafts, with tapestry and beautiful traditional costumes. We perfectly identify the sewing techniques on costumes, mejdoules (twisted cords) that is used to adorn the outfits. This strongly realistic painting perfectly reflects the atmosphere prevailing in this small village. It is not far from an anthropological work that allows us to understand the codes and rituals of the time. On the one hand it shows the independence of children, with the boy who smokes like a man. While on the other hand, it highlights the submission to parents with a child who must be a model at the workshop. Finally, it stresses the importance of rituals and traditions through hairstyles and headdresses.

Available artworks

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