The Moroccan water carrier or 'guerrab' has a long and important history in Morocco.
The explorer Ibn Battuta (1304-68) observed that in Cairo there were about 12,000 water-carriers who transport water on camels or on their backs. It was a way to make money and also bring water to people in a country where access to water was scarce.
To European artists these water carriers made for interesting subjects to paint. Here the artist Zinaida Serebriakova painted a Water Carrier from Morocco (1928).
Zinaida was born on the estate of Neskuchnoye near Kharkov (now Kharkiv, Ukraine) into one of the most refined and artistic families in the Russian Empire.
In 1928 and 1930 she traveled to Africa, visiting Morocco. She was fascinated by the landscapes of northern Africa and painted the Atlas mountains, as well as Arab women and Africans in ethnic clothing. She also painted a series devoted to Breton fishermen.