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.
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
silver jewellery :
From their inventive spirit and skillful hands springs a renown for artisan
works, notably for their marvelous silver jewelry.
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.
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 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
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."
This mysterious nomad people,
rich in history, myth and tradition, will doubtlessly stir our sense of
adventure and exotism forever.