Category: Afrika

A Targi o his journey is always wearing a arm. This can be either a sword, an arm dagger or knife. Without his weapons he would feel defenceless. His weapon has a psychological as well as a physical protective function.

In the Touareg’s social structure no other object owns such a high social status. Originally only the noble where allowed wearing swords; later on this right was also granted to the vassals.

A swords most important component is the blade. Most blades where of European origin; preferred from Passau, Solingen or Toledo. The Touareg used to use magic symbols as weapon stamps, which should protect their blades against negative effects.

The swords scabbard is made of multi coloured leather. As the colour green is a sign of high social status; it can be found on nearly every scabbard. Furthermore leather scabbards are often covered with fine copper and brass works which have decorative as well as a protective purpose.

A variety of different methods is existent to determine the age of ceramic objects. Due to the large dissemination of ceramic shards they are often used to determine the age of Neolithic stations.

Ceramic containers originate mainly from the heyday of the Sahara Neolithic period.

The question in which extent prehistoric inhabitants have used ceramic vessels and if they can be considered as an indication of stationary lifestyle is still unclear; however it is most likely that wooden vessels have been used as well.

The fields of application of booth, wooden and ceramic vessels, overlap only partially. Apart from that wooden vessels cannot be heated over a fire; they also swell quickly on contact with wet or moist content. Furthermore water loses his taste if stored in a wooden vessel over a longer time. In contrast ceramic vessels don’t have these disadvantages and, due to their porous surface, they even cool the water through evaporation effects.

Findings proof, that these vessels were not only used for storing water and preparing meals, but also for storing seasonal vegetable aliments.

First proofs of metal smelting in Africa reaches back to the last centuries of our Common Era.

If metal has been processed, it has been used mainly for weapons, ritual objects and commodities. Iron objects used in rituals are manly kwon in Mali and Nigeria.

Blacksmiths play an important role in nearly all African societies. They can be regarded in many different ways: as a worshiped person, a person to fear or to trust. What all have in common is that they life in an own residential district.

Since the blacksmith knows how to handle fire, it is said that he has magic powers. In some ethnic groups he is also responsible for crafting ritual objects like masks and wooden sculptures.
The Bambara and Dogon carry different ritual iron objects (charms) with them to be protected against ghosts and daemons. The Lobi place iron snakes in front of their houses to protect them against poisonous snakes. The exact meaning of them is always difficult to know, due to the huge variety of religious beliefs and cultures.

That human being had settled in the most barren areas of the Sahara is proven by the countless findings of artefacts and tools which they have left behind. But the stone mills are one of the most important elements in the revolution which came up in the Neolithic period 10,000 years ago.

Mankind learned to use nature’s products like grain, corn and wheat and to create products out of these resources. Collecting grain and milling flour was an essential step towards farming and cultivation of plants. In some regions at the edge of the southern Sahara one can still find people using authentic prehistoric tools to process their food.

In western Africa, pottery is mainly performed by women. The pots are formed manually and without the help of a potter’s wheel. The work is done on mats made out of Baobab fibre, Doum palm fibre or even old fabric pieces. During the work process, the pattern of these bases is copied to the outer surface of the pottery.

The prepared clay is formed to a truncated cone and with a fist size stone; a pit is formed in the middle of the clay until a hollow sphere is formed. The more the hollow sphere inner side is punched and formed with the stone, the thinner and more regular the pots wall become. With this technique experienced potters can achieve walls which only have a thickness of a few millimetres.

After the forming of the pots upper edge; the pot is dried on air and then burned in an open fire.

This pottery technique can be traced back up to the Neolithic age 10.000 years ago.

The pottery mainly is used for the transport of water, the brewing of millet beer (which is sold in huge amounts on market days) and to storage different kind of food.

Through the porous structure of the pot it also is cooling down the water by making use of the evaporation effect.

Wooden bowls are very important to nomads. Clay containers are very fragile and therefore used seldom. These wooden bowls are mainly used to store milk products and also serve as plate for the food.

Tamarisk and acacia provide the preferred wood for these bowls. It is hard and robust which is an important aspect is wood is used for spoons, ladles and bowls.

The wood is processed, when it is still fresh. Tools like adzes, knifes and gravers are used to work out the form. The bowls often get cracks during or after the creation. These cracks then get fixed with metal brackets, which are typical for wooden objects made by the Touareg,

After the completion, the bowls get oiled up or blackened with soot and often decorated with geometric ornaments.

4 Apr 2013

The Touareg know different types of earrings, which always are worn in a pierced ear. Through their heavy weight, they widen the ear hole over time. Most common is the model “Schizabatan”, which is made out of massive silver and decorated with ornaments and a polyhedron knob.  All earrings are usually worn as a pair.

For a long period of time tea and sugar have been some of the few trading goods of a nomad family, Sugar has been sold in pressed and paper wrapped two kilo cones. To crush those cones in bite-sized bits, a sugarhammer has been used. This tool often was made out of a silver alloy and magnificent ornamented. The tips of these hammers are often rectangular or axe shaped, but they also can a gazelles head.

Beside these traditional hammers one can also find nomads using tools like wrenches or valves of truck engines to crush the sugar cones.

Some parts of the Touareg crafting are performed by specialists; this also includes the manufacturing of upper arm bracelets.

Stone plates of different colours are broken into the fitting size and the raw form of the bracelet is worked out with a how-axe, until the inner core of the bracelet is falling out. After the finishing with a file, the bracelet gets greased or blackened with soot.

The Touareg men wear these rings at the upper arm; usually it is placed in a short distance to the elbow. The bracelets are said to have a protective effect against evil ghosts; and of course they are also worn due to their decorative effect.

Since several years, the stone cores, which are a by-product of the manufacturing, are used to create stone amulets similar to the silver Touareg-Crosses (also known as “Agadez-Cross”).

Amulets are a protection against the evil eye, illnesses and injuries. They also have a socio economical meaning as a status symbol.

Amulets made out of silver sheet can usually be found with a rectangular or triangular base form and in a stepped structure. They often contain a slip of paper with Koranic verses or ancient magical formulas of the “Marabouts”. But sometimes the content is only a piece of detergent packaging.

Due to their magical powers; the amulets are also made out of less valuable materials like copper or brass. Today most of the amulets are worn only for decorative reasons.