My informant was born in Fez, Morocco, then moved to the United States, and then moved back to Morocco but to the mountains when he was five years old. He attended high school in Auburn, Alabama. My informant told me stories about the origin of his last name, how is family got to Morocco, folklore stories about his family, and a family superstition. All three stories that I collected were passed down from father to son to father to son, my informant being the son. My informant’s father, who is one of twelve children in his family, became the active bearer of this family lore. My informant is the only son in his family, so he commented that he will be the active bearer after his father passes. My informant speaks French at home, and these stories were translated from French to English. The setting is an apartment bedroom in Los Angeles.
Informant: The origin of my last name/family. So this is the story because the Biazes have long been just father son father son father son so the stories have been passed down pretty well. And pretty consistently from father to son. And also because before my grandfather no Biaz had ever had more than 2-3 children which is actually kind of atypical in Morroccan family. SO because of that we had a very small family so it was very easy to track our history. SO, what happened was that sometime in the very very distant past, a sultan in Persia wanted to offer a gift to some nobility in Spain and he decided to send him these birds of prey mainly falcons to be trained to send messages. But with the falcons, he sent a trainer and that trainer is called a Biaz because falcons are called “baz” in the English transliteration of the Arabic word. So that is what happened and of course at this time, people were known by their occupation which was essentially his last name. And he had a family and for a couple hundred years our family was in Spain, and then the Reconquista happened. And that pushed a lot of the Arabs down to Morocco so that’s how we ended up in Morocco, which is wear we are to this day. So we started in Persia, stayed in Spain for a long time, then pushed down to Morocco. And all through this time we remained birds of prey trainer. I think we even had a family crest. And then we were in Fez Morocco ever since. And that’s where I was born.
Me: So those stories were passed down from father to son-father to son? What was the first time you heard this story?
Informant: The first time I heard the family origin story was years and year and years ago. I don’t remember. I think I’ve always known that story.
This story is important to my informant because it is the story of the origin of his family’s name. He says that when the topic of names comes up, he always has a good story to tell, while some of his friends have no idea where their names come from. He also validates the family stories by the fact that they were passed down father to son for many generations. The small size of his family also makes it easy to pass down.