I’m fascinated by the North African culture, especially that of the nomadic tribes. I feel a deep connection with places like Morocco and Algeria. Perhaps it’s because I have a great-grandmother who was from Morocco.
Throughout my childhood I had visions of visiting Morocco and the North African countries overlooking the Mediterranean. I even wrote a song many years ago about the Moroccan cultural cuisine and the home traditions of the Moroccan family – inspired by family stories about my great-grandmother.
Several years ago, my dreams came true and my music path took me to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia as part of a number of music tours.
But it was in Algeria that I had another dream of mine fulfilled!
Algeria has a portion of the population of Tuareg. They make such beautiful jewelry. I took the picture above of a Tuareg Cross at my atelier, from a book I have called, “World Beads.” It’s a symbolic piece of jewelry made of Moroccan silver, and it stands for the warrior spirit of the Tuaregs.
By tradition Tuareg men cover their faces, though the women do not. There are many theories about why men veil their faces. But the one I know of is about a time, hundreds of years ago, when a large clan waged a war against Tuareg clans prompting the men to flee the scene.
Surprisingly, the Tuareg women stood their ground and defended their clan… and won!
To hide their shame, men started wearing blue veils to cover their faces. A ‘face’ in North African and Middle Eastern culture is a metaphor for honor and dignity. By covering their faces, the men were metaphorically restoring their honor (Source of picture to the left unknown).
According to Wikipedia, “The Tuareg (also spelled Twareg or Touareg; endonym Imuhagh) are Berber people with a traditionally nomadic pastoralist lifestyle. They are the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa.”
So… as it happens, I played music at a poetry festival in a small far-away oasis, nestling quietly in the vast Algerian desert. Over there, I had the pleasure of meeting a Tuareg filmmaker – who did not cover his face and who wore modern dress. I almost fainted when I learnt he was a Tuareg, but his modern outfit confused me. He told me his clan members weren’t happy with him not covering his face, but he believed we lived in modern times and old myths no longer applied. Anyhow, it was a special moment for me as I always had such tremendous admiration for this nomadic clan!
This necklace by Yaansoon reminds me of Algeria and of the Tuareg…
When I created this necklace I thought of the amazing time I spent there in a real oasis, with palm trees and fresh water, and sand dunes hugging the oasis in an endless pristine desert.
I love tribal jewelry, so I decided to make my own jewelry inspired by my travels and the cultures and peoples I have encountered – using different materials, like copper wire, tribal beads, and wooden bead.
I recently opened an Etsy Shop with my husband to make these creations available to a wider audience. You are most welcome to pay us a visit!