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.
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.
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.
Characteristic jewellery items of the Touareg are the so called “Touareg-Crosses” or “Agadez-Crosses”. They can be found in different variations in wide parts of Zinder, In-Gall, Iferouane and other oasis between the Hoggar-Mountains.
The origin of the crosses is, until now, quite unclear, although many authors have formulated different hypothesis. It is said, that the silver cross prevents the wearer from the evil eye, and spread it in all directions. This is also the reason why the cross form is repetitive on other objects, like the handle of a sword or the knob of the camel saddle.
Today the crosses have lost a lot of their magical and religious meaning and are worn mostly for aesthetic reasons.
Silver crosses are especially common in the regions of the Air and Adrar area and worn by woman and men. During the traditional festivals one can often find woman wearing a huge amount of crosses to represent their wealth. In times of need, the silver crosses also served as currency, to pay for cattle and other necessary items of the daily life.
The Touareg people are descendants of the Berber. One thousand years ago and under the Arabic pressure they emigrated to the fertile north of Africa. Today the residential area has his core in Algeria and reaches till Libya and the north west of Niger.
The Touareg doesn’t build a political entity; there can be distinguished between several tribes:
- The northern Touareg / Sahara Touareg
- Kel Air, Kel Hoggar / Southern Touareg
- Kel Adrar
- Kel Air Aullimmiden
- Kel Tademaket
- Kel Gress
The main differences can be seen between the Touareg which live in the Sahara and the Touareg which live in the Sudan. These two areas have very different climatic conditions and the people which live in these regions need to adapt to these conditions individually.
The Sahara Touareg are used to live in a very dry region; they breed goats and camels, which get along with the view grass an plants. Whereas the Sudan Touareg live in a landscape with grassland and semi desert.