Tuareg (Touareg, Twareg)
The Tuareg are a Berber ethnic group or nation. Tuareg is the name give to them by early explorers and historians, but they call themselves Kel Tamashek or Kel Tamajek which means "speakers of Tamashek" andImouhar, Imuhagh, Imazaghan or Imashaghen, meaning "the free people." It is believed by some that the word Tuareg was given by the French and meant "abandoned by the gods," though other sources believe it is derived from the word Targa, the name of a city in south
Descendants of Berbers in the area now known as
The Tuareg are matrilineal, though not matriarchal. Unlike many muslim societies, the women do not traditionally wear a veil, known as tagelmust, though the men do. These tagelmust are only taken off in the presence of close family. Tuareg men find shame in showing their mouth or nose to strangers or people of higher standing than themselves. The tagelmust is a 3 to 5 meter long indigo dyed cotton combination of turban and veil. The men's facial covering originates from the belief that such action wards off evil spirits, but most probably relates to protection against the harsh desert sands as well; in any event, it is a firmly established tradition as is the wearing of amulets containing verses out of the Koran believed to bring protection.
Due to the fact that they are nomadic, their art takes on forms of smaller items of utilitarian items, such as jewelry or leatherwork. The Tuareg also produce finely crafted swords. Fine detail is paid to the engraving of their jewelry, tent poles, bowl holders and bowls, adorning them with intricate geometric designs and patterns. It is possible that Christianity had an influence on the Tuareg in some way as the Tuareg blacksmith create some wonderful crosses.
Some Tuareg items either still in our collection or sold: