|Located in Saharan Africa and spanning primarily the countries of
Niger, Mali and Algeria, the Tuareg are considered part of the Berber
ethnic group and are descended from Berbers in what is now Libya.
The name ‘Tuareg’ was given to them by early historians
and explorers, but they call themselves by a variety of names such
as ‘Kel Tamasheq’ (“speakers of Tamasheq”),
or ‘Imazaghan’ or ‘Imashaghen’ (“the
free”). They have operated trans-Saharan trade caravans for
over two millennia and were, until recently, nomadic. Today, primarily
settled, they are known as traders and artisans, as well as farmers,
and breeders of camels and cattle.
Famous for the blue tint on their skin from the indigo dye on their
robes, the men are a commanding presence in their turbans, flowing
robes and veiled faces. Although Islamized since the 16th century,
in a curious turnaround the men are veiled, but the women are not.
They practice Sunni Islam of the Maliki type prevalent in North
and West Africa, but combine it with pre-Islamic animistic beliefs,
plus the belief in divination via the Qur’an.
They are also known for creating uniquely designed silver jewelry,
leatherwork and swords. Some of the jewelry is intended for protection,
and includes amulets with written Qur’anic texts inside; others
are intrinsic to identification, such as the distinctive ‘crosses’
which originally represented towns and villages, but also have strong
talismanic qualities. So acclaimed is their silver and leatherwork
that Hermes, purveyor of fine leather goods, utilized Tuareg artisans
in Africa for a unique line of offerings.
We are very pleased to be able to offer this collection of authentic,
carefully selected items from the Tuareg of Niger. Made for their
personal use, most of the pieces are older and show the patina of
age, but are in very good condition; a few pieces are more recent
and are duly noted. The purses include a form of wallet, as well
as two stunning box-like variations. All utilize goat and camel
leather, with exuberant ornamentation of fringe, tassles, and applied
geometric designs. The jewelry is traditional, not sterling, but
with intricate designs inscribed on the surface of the metal.
For Tuareg jewelry, go to: