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THE TUAREG AND THEIR SILVER JEWELRY << Silver Jewelry

The Sahara of the Tuareg : mountain citadels and hidden oases

The tuareg myth is as deep and mysterious as the great desert they populate, the link between Maghreb and Sudan, the Mediterranean coast and the river Niger, the Moorish is the West and the mountains in the East.

The Tuaregs or "Touareg" were given their present name by the French. Originally they were called the "Kel Tamasheq" or "Kel Tiggelmust" (those with the turban on the head). Their ancestors discovered the Sahara when they flew from the Arab invasions of Africa. Of Berber origins, camel raisers, brave, peaceful to the well-intentioned and fierce warriors against the invaders, the Tuaregs form a vast community which spreads from Morocco to Egypt.

The touareg language is part of the family of Berber languages and composed of Arabic, Shloe and Kabyl. Their alphabet has 24 letters and signs common to the Phoenician alphabet.

The Tuareg silver jewellery :

From their inventive spirit and skillful hands springs a renown for artisan works, notably for their marvelous silver jewelry.

Tuareg women have a superstitious fear of gold and will not wear it. Silver has thus taken its place in the tuareg traditions. Silver jewelry is part of every Tuareg family estate. It has both symbolic and real value, serving also as savings and for (foreign) exchange.

Every jewel is a message and contains sometimes forgotten symbols.
Every necklace worn by a Tuareg woman tells stories of her people, her city.
 

Often, the pendant represents the palace of the sultan, the pearls the outer quarters and their position in relation to the palace; pending triangles, the desert tribes. The gems inside the pendant represent the sultan himself and his court. There are also symbols for the man, the woman, maternity and birth.

The Southern Cross :

The Southern Cross from Agades or Iferwan was originally worn only by men who transferred it from father to son at puberty. It hints to the virility and strength of the young men in relation to their traditional nomad lifestyle. The cross represents saddle pommel of their camels or in a wider view, the four cardinal directions.

Traditionally a father would transmit the cross to his son saying "Son, I give you the four directions, as no one knows where your path will end."

  1. AGADEZ
 
2. ABALAK
  3. MADAOUA
  4. IFEROUANE
  5. TAHOUA
  6. TACHMERT
  7. BARTCHAKEA
  8. AIR
  9. IN-ABAGRET
10. BAGAZEN
 

11. TAKADENDA
12. CRIP-CRIP
13. TIMIA
14. KARAGA
15. TILYA
16. IN-WAGAR
17. ZINDER
18. BILMA
19. IN-GALL
20. TCHIN-TABARADEN
21. TCHIMOUMENENE

This mysterious nomad people, rich in history, myth and tradition, will doubtlessly stir our sense of adventure and exotism forever.

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