|(c. 2–2.5 million)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Tuareg languages (Tamasheq, Tamajeq, Tafaghist, Tamahaq, Tawellemmet)|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Tuareg (//; also spelled Twareg or Touareg; endonym Imuhagh, Kel Tamajaq, Kel Tamacheq) are Berber people with a traditionally nomadic pastoralist lifestyle. They are the principal inhabitants of the vast Sahara Desert.
The Tuareg language, a branch of the Berber languages, has an estimated 1.2 million speakers. About half this number is accounted for by speakers of the Eastern dialect (Tamajaq, Tawallammat). Most Tuareg live in the Saharan parts of Niger, Mali, and Algeria. Being nomadic, they move constantly across national borders, and small groups of Tuareg also live in southeastern Algeria, southwestern Libya and northern Burkina Faso, and a small community in northern Nigeria.
- 1 Names
- 2 Territory
- 3 History
- 4 Colonial era
- 5 Traditional social stratification
- 6 Culture
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 Notable Tuareg
- 9 Genetics
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
The origin and meaning of the name Tuareg has long been debated with various etymologies advanced, although it would appear that Twārəg is derived from the "broken plural" of Tārgi, a name whose former meaning was "inhabitant of Targa" (the Tuareg name of the Libyan region commonly known as Fezzan. Targa in Berber means "(drainage) channel", see Alojali et al. 2003: 656, s.v. "Targa").
Tuareg were called Tevarikler in The Ottoman Empire.
The name of the Tuareg for themselves is Imuhagh or Imushagh (cognate to northern Berber Imazighen). The term for a Tuareg man is Amajagh (var. Amashegh, Amahagh), the term for a woman Tamajaq (var. Tamasheq, Tamahaq, Timajaghen). The spelling variants given reflect the variety of the Tuareg dialects, but they all reflect the same linguistic root, expressing the notion of "freemen", strictly only referring to the Tuareg "nobility", to the exclusion of the artisan client castes and slaves. Another self-designation of more recent origin is linguistic, Kel Tamasheq or Kel Tamajaq (Neo-Tifinagh) "Speakers of Tamasheq".
Also encountered in ethnographic literature of the early 20th century is the name Kel Tagelmust "People of the Veil" and "the Blue People" (for the indigo colour of their veils and other clothing, which sometimes stains the skin underneath).
Douglas Porch, in his book "The Conquest of Morocco," posits that the French described the term "tuareg" as the Arabic name given to the Berber tribes of the sub-Saharan region which, in translation, means "abandoned by God."
The Tuareg people inhabit a large area—almost all of the middle and western Sahara, as well as the north-central Sahel. In Tuareg terms, the Sahara is not one desert but many, so they call it Tinariwen ("the Deserts"). Among the many deserts in Africa, there is the true desert Ténéré. Other deserts are more and less arid, flat and mountainous: Adrar, Tagant, Tawat (Touat) Tanezrouft, Adghagh n Fughas, Tamasna, Azawagh, Adar, Damargu, Tagama, Manga, Ayr, Tarramit (Termit), Kawar, Djado, Tadmait, Admer, Igharghar, Ahaggar, Tassili n'Ajjer, Tadrart, Idhan, Tanghart, Fezzan, Tibesti, Kalansho, Libyan Desert, etc. While there is little conflict about the driest parts of Tuareg territory, many of the water sources and pastures they need for cattle breeding have been fenced off by absentee landlords, impoverishing some Tuareg communities. There is also an unresolved land conflict about many stretches of farm land just south of the Sahara. Tuareg often also claim ownership over these lands and over the crop and property of the impoverished Rimaite-people farming them.
The Tuareg expanded southward from the Tafilalt region into the Sahel under their legendary queen Tin Hinan, who is assumed to have lived in the 4th or 5th century. Tin Hinan is credited in Tuareg lore with uniting the ancestral tribes and founding the unique culture that continues to the present day. At Abalessa, a grave traditionally held to be hers has been scientifically studied.
External accounts of interaction with the Tuareg are available from at least the 10th century. Ibn Hawkal (10th century), El-Bekri (11th century), Edrisi (12th century), Ibn Batutah (14th century), and Leo Africanus (16th century), all documented the Tuareg in some form, usually as Mulatthamin or “the veiled ones.” Of the early historians, fourteenth century Arab scholar, Ibn Khaldûn probably has some of the most detailed commentary on the life and people of the Sahara, though he apparently never actually met them. Some studies have linked the Tuareg to early ancient Egyptian civilization.
At the turn of the 19th century, the Tuareg territory was organised into confederations, each ruled by a supreme Chief (Amenokal), along with a counsel of elders from each tribe. These confederations are sometimes called "Drum Groups" after the Amenokal's symbol of authority, a drum. Clan (Tewsit) elders, called Imegharan (wisemen), are chosen to assist the chief of the confederation. Historically, there are seven recent major confederations:
- Kel Ajjer or Azjar: centre is the oasis of Aghat (Ghat).
- Kel Ahaggar, in Ahaggar mountains.
- Kel Adagh, or Kel Assuk: Kidal, and Tin Buktu
- Iwillimmidan Kel Ataram, or Western Iwillimmidan: Ménaka, and Azawagh region (Mali)
- Iwillimmidan Kel Denneg, or Eastern Iwillimmidan: Tchin-Tabaraden, Abalagh, Teliya Azawagh (Niger).
- Kel Ayr: Assodé, Agadez, In Gal, Timia and Ifrwan.
- Kel Gres: Zinder and Tanut (Tanout) and south into northern Nigeria.
- Kel Owey: Aïr Massif, seasonally south to Tessaoua (Niger)
In the late 19th century, the Tuareg resisted the French colonial invasion of their Central Saharan homelands. Tuareg broadswords were no match for the more advanced weapons of French troops. After numerous massacres on both sides, the Tuareg were subdued and required to sign treaties in Mali 1905 and Niger 1917. In southern Morocco and Algeria, the French met some of the strongest resistance from the Ahaggar Tuareg. Their Amenokal, traditional chief Moussa ag Amastan, fought numerous battles in defence of the region. Finally, Tuareg territories were taken under French governance, and their confederations were largely dismantled and reorganised.
When African countries achieved widespread independence in the 1960s, the traditional Tuareg territory was divided among a number of modern nations: Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso. Competition for resources in the Sahel has since led to conflicts between the Tuareg and neighboring African groups, especially after political disruption following French colonization and independence. There have been tight restrictions placed on nomadization because of high population growth. Desertification is exacerbated by human activity i.e.; exploitation of resources and the increased firewood needs of growing cities. Some Tuareg are therefore experimenting with farming; some have been forced to abandon herding and seek jobs in towns and cities.
In Mali, a Tuareg uprising resurfaced in the Adrar N'Fughas mountains in the 1960s, following Mali's independence. Several Tuareg joined, including some from the Adrar des Iforas in northeastern Mali. The 1960s' rebellion was a fight between a group of Tuareg and the newly independent state of Mali. The Malian Army suppressed the revolt. Resentment among the Tuareg fueled the second uprising.
This second (or third) uprising was in May 1990. At this time, in the aftermath of a clash between government soldiers and Tuareg outside a prison in Tchin-Tabaraden, Niger, Tuareg in both Mali and Niger claimed autonomy for their traditional homeland: (Ténéré, capital Agadez, in Niger and the Azawad and Kidal regions of Mali). Deadly clashes between Tuareg fighters (with leaders such as Mano Dayak) and the military of both countries followed, with deaths numbering well into the thousands. Negotiations initiated by France and Algeria led to peace agreements (January 11, 1992 in Mali and 1995 in Niger). Both agreements called for decentralization of national power and guaranteed the integration of Tuareg resistance fighters into the countries' respective national armies.
Major fighting between the Tuareg resistance and government security forces ended after the 1995 and 1996 agreements. As of 2004, sporadic fighting continued in Niger between government forces and Tuareg groups struggling for independence. In 2007, a new surge in violence occurred.
Since 1998, three different flags have been designed to represent the Tuareg. In Niger, the Tuareg people remain diplomatically and economically marginalized, remaining poor and not being represented in Niger's central government.
Traditionally, Tuareg society is hierarchical, with nobility and vassals. Each Tuareg clan (tawshet) is made up of several family groups, each led by its chief, the amghar. A series of tawsheten (plural of tawshet) may bond together under an Amenokal, forming a Kel clan confederation. Tuareg self-identification is related only to their specific Kel, which means "those of". E.g. Kel Dinnig (those of the east), Kel Ataram (those of the west). The position of amghar is hereditary through a matrilineal principle, it is usual for the son of a sister of the incumbent chieftain to succeed to his position. The amenokal is elected in a ritual which differs between groups, the individual amghar who lead the clans making up the confederation usually have the deciding voice.
Nobility and vassals
The work of pastoralism was specialized according to social class. Tels are ruled by the imúšaɣ (Imajaghan, The Proud and Free) nobility, warrior-aristocrats who organized group defense, livestock raids, and the long-distance caravan trade. Below them were a number of specialised métier castes. The ímɣad (Imghad, singular Amghid), the second rank of Tuareg society, were free vassal-herdsmen and warriors, who pastured and tended most of the confederation's livestock. Formerly enslaved vassals of specific Imajaghan, they are said by tradition to be descended from nobility in the distant past, and thus maintain a degree of social distance from lower orders. Traditionally, some merchant castes had a higher status than all but the nobility among their more settled compatriots to the south. With time, the difference between the two castes has eroded in some places, following the economic fortunes of the two groups.
Imajaghan have traditionally disdained certain types of labor and prided themselves in their warrior skills. The existence of lower servile and semi-servile classes has allowed for the development of highly ritualised poetic, sport, and courtship traditions among the Imajaghan. Following colonial subjection, independence, and the famines of the 1970s and 1980s, noble classes have more and more been forced to abandon their caste differences. They have taken on labor and lifestyles they might traditionally have rejected.
After the adoption of Islam, a separate class of religious clerics, the Ineslemen or marabouts, also became integral to Tuareg social structure. Following the decimation of many clans' noble Imajaghan caste in the colonial wars of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Ineslemen gained leadership in some clans, despite their often servile origins. Traditionally Ineslemen clans were not armed. They provided spiritual guidance for the nobility, and received protection and alms in return.
Inhædˤæn (Inadan), were a blacksmith-client caste who fabricated and repaired the saddles, tools, household equipment and other material needs of the community. They were often, in addition to craftwork, the repository of oral traditions and poetry. They were also often musicians and played an important role in many ceremonies. Their origins are unclear, one theory proposing an original Jewish derivation. They had their own special dialect or secret language. Because of their association with fire, iron and precious metals and their reputation for cunning tradesmanship the ordinary Tuareg regarded them with a mixture of awe and distrust.
The people who farm oases in Tuareg-dominated areas form a distinct group known as izeggaghan (or hartani in Arabic). Their origins are unclear but they often speak both Tuareg dialects and Arabic, though a few communities are Songhay speakers. Traditionally they worked land owned by a Tuareg noble or vassal family, being allowed to keep a fifth part of their produce. Their Tuareg patrons were usually responsible for supplying agricultural tools, seed and clothing.
Bonded castes and slaves
Like other major ethnic groups in West Africa, the Tuareg once held slaves (éklan / Ikelan in Tamasheq, Bouzou in Hausa, Bella in Songhai); however, the Tuareg even in present-day still maintain the practice of slavery. The slaves called éklan once formed a distinct social class in Tuareg society. Eklan formed distinct sub-communities; they were a class held in an inherited serf-like condition, common among societies in precolonial West Africa.
When French colonial governments were established, they passed legislation to abolish slavery, but did not enforce it. Some commentators believe the French interest was directed more at dismantling the traditional Tuareg political economy, which depended on slave labor for herding, than at freeing the slaves. Historian Martin Klein reports that there was a large scale attempt by French West African authorities to liberate slaves and other bonded castes in Tuareg areas following the 1914–1916 Firouan revolt. Despite this, French officials following the Second World War reported there were some 50,000 "Bella" under direct control of Tuareg masters in the Gao–Timbuktu areas of French Soudan alone. This was at least four decades after French declarations of mass freedom had happened in other areas of the colony. In 1946, a series of mass desertions of Tuareg slaves and bonded communities began in Nioro and later in Menaka, quickly spreading along the Niger River valley. In the first decade of the 20th century, French administrators in southern Tuareg areas of French Sudan estimated "free" to "servile" Tuareg populations at ratios of 1 to 8 or 9. At the same time the servile "rimaibe" population of the Masina Fulbe, roughly equivalent to the Bella, made up between 70% to 80% of the Fulbe population, while servile Songhai groups around Gao made up some 2/3 to 3/4 of the total Songhai population. Klein concludes that roughly 50% of the population of French Soudan at the beginning of the 20th century were in some servile or slave relationship.
While post-independence states have sought to outlaw slavery, results have been mixed. Traditional caste relationships have continued in many places, including the institution of slavery. According to the Travel Channel show, Bob Geldof in Africa, the descendants of those slaves known as the Bella are still slaves in all but name. In Niger, where the practice of slavery was outlawed in 2003, a study found that almost 8% of the population are still enslaved. In the country of Mali, many slaves held by the Tuareg were liberated during 2013-14 when French troops intervened on behalf of the Malian government against Islamic radicals with whom the Tuareg were allied during their attempt at secession.
The Tuareg are largely matrilineal. Tuareg women have high status compared with their Arab counterparts (for further information see the Tuareg section of the Matrilineality article). Other distinctive aspects of Tuareg culture include clothing, food, language, religion, arts, astronomy, nomadic architecture, traditional weapons, music, films, games, and economic activities.
In Tuareg society women do not traditionally wear the veil, whereas men do. The most famous Tuareg symbol is the Tagelmust (also called éghéwed), referred to as a Cheche (pronounced "Shesh"), an often indigo blue-colored veil called Alasho. The men's facial covering originates from the belief that such action wards off evil spirits. It may have related instrumentally from the need for protection from the harsh desert sands as well. It is a firmly established tradition, as is the wearing of amulets containing sacred objects and, recently, verses from the Qur'an. Taking on the veil is associated with the rite of passage to manhood; men begin wearing a veil when they reach maturity. The veil usually conceals their face, excluding their eyes and the top of the nose.
- tagelmust: turban – men
- alasho: blue indigo veil – women and men
- bukar: black cotton turban – men
- tasuwart: women's veil
- takatkat: shirt – women and men
- takarbast: short shirt – women and men
- akarbey: pants worn by men
- afetek: loose shirt worn by women
- afer: women's pagne
- tari: large black pagne for winter season
- bernuz: long woolen cloth for winter
- akhebay: loose bright green or blue cloth for women
- ighateman: shoes
- iragazan: red leather sandals
- ibuzagan: leather shoes
The Tuareg are sometimes called the "Blue People" because the indigo pigment in the cloth of their traditional robes and turbans stained their skin dark blue. The traditional indigo turban is still preferred for celebrations, and generally Tuareg wear clothing and turbans in a variety of colors.
Taguella is a flat bread made from wheat floor and cooked on under charcoal fire, the flat disk-shaped bread is buried under the hot sand. Then the bread is broke up into small pieces and eaten mixed with a meat sauce. Millet porridge called a cink or a liwa is a staple much like ugali and fufu. Millet is boiled with water to make a pap and eaten with milk or a heavy sauce. Common dairy foods are goat's and camel's milk called akh, as well as cheese ta komart and Tona a thick yogurt made from them. Eghajira is a beer-like beverage drunk with a ladle. It is made by pounding millet, goat cheese, dates, milk and sugar and is served on festivals. A popular tea called "atai" or "ashahi" is made from Gunpowder Green Tea mixed with sugar. After steeping, it is poured three times in and out of the tea pot over the tea, mint and sugar and served by pouring from a height of over a foot into small tea glasses with a froth on top.
The Tuareg natively speak the Tuareg languages. A dialect cluster, it belongs to the Berber branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. Tuareg is known as Tamasheq by western Tuareg in Mali, as Tamahaq among Algerian and Libyan Tuareg, and as Tamajaq in the Azawagh and Aïr regions of Niger.
French missionary Charles de Foucauld famously compiled a dictionary of the Tuareg.
The Tuareg historically adhered to the Berber mythology. Islam came in with the Umayyads. The Tuareg adopted the religion shortly thereafter and traveled south, harmonizing the faith with their traditional beliefs. Tuaregs also helped spread Islam further into the Western Sudan during trading expeditions.
Much Tuareg art is in the form of jewellery, leather and metal saddle decorations called trik, and finely crafted swords. The Inadan community makes traditional handicrafts. Among their products are tanaghilt or zakkat (the 'Agadez Cross' or 'Croix d'Agadez'); the Tuareg sword (Takoba), many gold and silver-made necklaces called 'Takaza'; and earrings called 'Tizabaten'. Pilgrimage boxes have intricate iron and brass decorations, and are used for carrying items.
The clear desert skies allowed the Tuareg to be keen observers. Tuareg celestial objects include:
- Azzag Willi (Venus), which indicates the time for milking the goats
- Shet Ahad (Pleiades), the seven sisters of the night
- Amanar (Orion), the warrior of the desert
- Talemt (Ursa Major), the she-camel wakes up
- Awara (Ursa Minor), the baby camel goes to sleep
While living quarters are progressively changing to adapt to a more sedentary lifestyle, Tuareg groups are well known for their nomadic architecture (tents). There are several documented styles, some covered with animal skin, some with mats. The style tends to vary by location or subgroup. The tent is traditionally constructed for the first time during the marriage ceremony and is considered an extension of the union, to the extent that the phrase "making a tent” is a metaphor for becoming married. Because the tent is considered to be under the ownership of a married woman, sedentary dwellings generally belong to men, reflecting a patriarchal shift in power dynamics. Current documentation suggests a negotiation of common practice in which a woman's tent is set up in the courtyard of her husband's house. It has been suggested that the traditional tent construction and arrangement of living space within it represent a microcosm of the greater world as an aide in the organization of lived experiences so much so that movement away from the tent can cause changes in character for both men and women as its stabilizing force becomes faint.
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An old legend says the Tuareg once lived in grottoes, akazam, and they lived in foliage beds on the top acacia trees, tasagesaget.
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Other kinds of traditional housing include:
- ahaket: Tuareg goatskin red tent
- tafala: a shade made of millet sticks
- akarban also called takabart: temporary hut for winter
- ategham: summer hut
- taghazamt: adobe house for long stay
- ahaket: a dome-shaped house made of mats for the dry season and square shaped roof with holes to prevent hot air
- takoba: 1 meter long straight sword
- allagh: 2 meter long lance
- agher: 1.50 meter high shield
- tagheda: small and sharp assegai
- taganze: leather covered-wooden bow
- amur: wooden arrow
- sheru: long dagger
- tellak: short dagger kept in a sheath attached to the left forearm.
- taburek: wooden stick
- alakkud or abartak: riding crop
In 2007, Stanford's Cantor Arts Center opened an exhibition, "Art of Being Tuareg: Sahara Nomads in a Modern World", the first such exhibit in the United States. It was curated by Tom Seligman, director of the center. He had first spent time with the Tuareg in 1971 when he traveled through the Sahara after serving in the Peace Corps. The exhibition included crafted and adorned functional objects such as camel saddles, tents, bags, swords, amulets, cushions, dresses, earrings, spoons and drums. The exhibition also was shown at the University of California, Los Angeles Fowler Museum in Los Angeles and the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.
Throughout history, the Tuareg were renowned and respected warriors. Their decline as a military might came with the introduction of firearms, weapons which the Tuareg did not possess. The Tuareg warrior equipment consisted of a takoba (sword), allagh (lance) and aghar (shield) made of antelope's skin.
Traditional Tuareg music has two major components: the monochord violin anzad played often during night parties and a small tambour covered with goatskin called tende, performed during camel and horse races, and other festivities. Traditional songs called Asak and Tisiway (poems) are sung by women and men during feasts and social occasions. Another popular Tuareg musical genre is takamba, characteristic for its Afro percussions.
- tisiway: poems
- tasikisikit: songs performed by women, accompanied by tende (drum); the men, on camel-back, circle the women as they sing.
- asak: songs accompanied by anzad monocord violin.
- tahengemmit: slow songs sung by elder men
Children and youth music
- Bellulla songs made by children playing with the lips
- Fadangama small monocord instrument for children
- Odili flute made from trunk of sorghum
- Gidga small wooden instrument with irons sticks to make strident sounds
- tagest: dance made while seated, moving the head, the hands and the shoulders.
- ewegh: strong dance performed by men, in couples and groups.
- agabas: dance for modern ishumar guitars: women and men in groups.
In the 1980s rebel fighters founded Tinariwen, a Tuareg band that fuses electric guitars and indigenous musical styles. Tinariwen is one of the best known and authentic Tuareg bands. Especially in areas that were cut off during the Tuareg rebellion (e.g., Adrar des Iforas), they were practically the only music available, which made them locally famous and their songs/lyrics (e.g. Abaraybone, ...) are well known by the locals. They released their first CD in 2000, and toured in Europe and the United States in 2004. Tuareg guitar groups that followed in their path include Group Inerane and Group Bombino. The Niger-based band Etran Finatawa combines Tuareg and Wodaabe members, playing a combination of traditional instruments and electric guitars.
Many music groups emerged after the 1980s cultural revival. Among the Tartit, Imaran and known artists are: Abdallah Oumbadougou from Ayr, Baly Othmany of Djanet.
Music genres, groups and artists
- Majila Ag Khamed Ahmad, singer Asak (vocal music), of Aduk, Niger
- Almuntaha female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Aduk, Niger
- Ajju female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Agadez, Niger
- Islaman singer, genre Asak (vocal music), of Abalagh, Niger
- Tambatan singer, genre Asak (vocal music), Tchin-Tabaraden, Niger
- Alghadawiat female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Akoubounou, Niger
- Taghdu female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Aduk, Niger
Ishumar music or Teshumara music style
- In Tayaden singer and guitar player, Adagh
- Abareybon singer and guitar player, Tinariwen group, Adagh
- Kiddu Ag Hossad singer and guitar player, Adagh
- Baly Othmani singer, luth player, Djanet, Azjar
- Abdalla Ag Umbadugu, singer, Takrist N'Akal group, Ayr
- Hasso Ag Akotey, singer, Ayr
Music and culture festivals
The Desert Festival in Mali's Timbuktu provides one opportunity to see Tuareg culture and dance and hear their music. Other festivals include:
- Cure Salee Festival in the oasis of In-Gall, Niger
- Sabeiba Festival in Ganat (Djanet), Algeria
- Shiriken Festival in Akabinu (Akoubounou), Niger
- Takubelt Tuareg Festival in Mali
- Ghat Festival in Aghat (Ghat), Libya
- Le Festival au Désert in Mali
- Ghadames Tuareg Festival in Libya
Tuareg traditional games and plays include:
- Tiddas, played with small stones and sticks.
- Kelmutan: consists of singing and touching each person's leg, where the ends, that person is out: the last person loses the game.
- Temse: comic game try to make the other team laugh and you win.
- Izagag, played with small stones or dried fruits.
- Iswa, played by picking up stones while throwing another stone.
- Melghas, children hide themselves and another tries to find and touch them before they reach the well and drink.
- Tabillant, traditional Tuareg wrestling
- Alamom, wrestling while running
- Solagh, another type of wrestling
- Tammazaga or Tammalagha, race on camel back
- Takket, singing and playing all night.
- Sellenduq one person to be a jackal and try to touch the others who escape running (tag).
- Takadant, children try to imagine what the others are thinking.
- Tabakoni: clown with a goatskin mask to amuse children.
- Abarad Iqquran: small dressed wooden puppet that tells stories and makes people laugh.
- Maja Gel Gel: one person tries to touch all people standing, to avoid this sit down.
- Bellus: everyone runs not to be touched by the one who plays (tag).
- Tamammalt: pass a burning stick, when its blown off in ones hands tells who's the lover.
- Ideblan: game with girls, prepare food and go search for water and milk and fruits.
- Seqqetu: play with girls to learn how to build tents, look after babies made of clay.
- Mifa Mifa: beauty contest, girls and boys best dressed.
- Taghmart: children pass from house to house singing to get presents: dates, sugar, etc.
- Melan Melan: try to find a riddle
- Tawaya: play with the round fruit calotropis or a piece of cloth.
- Abanaban: try to find people while eyes are shut. (blind man's bluff)
- Shishagheren, writing the name of one's lover to see if this person brings good luck.
- Taqqanen, telling devinettes and enigmas.
- Maru Maru, young people mime how the tribe works.
Tuareg are distinguished in their native language as the Imouhar, meaning the free people; the overlap of meaning has increased local cultural nationalism. Many Tuareg today are either settled agriculturalists or nomadic cattle breeders, though there are also blacksmiths and caravan leaders. The Tuareg are a pastoral people, having an economy based on livestock breeding, trading, and agriculture.
Since Prehistoric times Tuareg peoples: the Garamantes have been organising caravans for trading across the Sahara desert. The caravan in Niger from around Agadez to Fachi and Bilma is called in Tamashek: Tarakaft or Taghlamt and the one in Mali from Timbuktu to Taoudenni Azalay.
These caravans used first oxen, horses and later camels as a means of transportation, here different types of caravans:
- caravans transporting food: dates, millet, dried meat, dried Tuareg cheese, butter etc.
- caravans transporting garments, alasho indigo turbans, leather products, ostrich feathers,
- caravans transporting salt: salt caravans used for exchange against other products.
- caravans transporting nothing but made to sell and buy camels.
Salt mines or salines in the desert.
- Tin Garaban near Ghat in Azjar, Libya.
- Amadghor in Ahaggar, Algeria.
- Todennit in Tanezruft desert, Mali.
- Tagidda N Tesemt in Azawagh, Niger
- Fachi in Ténéré desert, Niger
- Bilma in Kawar, Niger
A contemporary variant is occurring in northern Niger, in a traditionally Tuareg territory that comprises most of the uranium-rich land of the country. The central government in Niamey has shown itself unwilling to cede control of the highly profitable mining to indigenous clans. The Tuareg are determined not to relinquish the prospect of substantial economic benefit. The French government has independently tried to defend a French firm, Areva, established in Niger for fifty years and now mining the massive Imouraren deposit.
Additional complaints against Areva are that it is: "...plundering...the natural resources and [draining] the fossil deposits. It is undoubtedly an ecological catastrophe". These mines yield uranium ores, which are then processed to produce yellowcake, crucial to the nuclear power industry (as well as aspirational nuclear powers). In 2007, some Tuareg people in Niger allied themselves with the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), a rebel group operating in the north of the country. During 2004–2007, U.S. Special Forces teams trained Tuareg units of the Nigerien Army in the Sahel region as part of the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership. Some of these trainees are reported to have fought in the 2007 rebellion within the MNJ. The goal of these Tuareg appears to be economic and political control of ancestral lands, rather than operating from religious and political ideologies.
Despite the Sahara's erratic and unpredictable rainfall patterns, the Tuareg have managed to survive in the hostile desert environment for centuries. Over recent years however, depletion of water by the uranium exploitation process combined with the effects of climate change are threatening their ability to subsist. Uranium mining has diminished and degraded Tuareg grazing lands. Not only does the mining industry produce radioactive waste that can contaminate crucial sources of ground water resulting in cancer, stillbirths, and genetic defects but it also uses up huge quantities of water in a region where water is already scarce. This is exacerbated by the increased rate of desertification thought to be the result of global warming. Lack of water forces the Tuareg to compete with southern farming communities for scarce resources and this has led to tensions and clashes between these communities. The precise levels of environmental and social impact of the mining industry have proved difficult to monitor due to governmental obstruction.
In popular culture
- The Tuareg are the antagonists of the French Foreign Legion in Percival Christopher Wren's 1924 adventure novel Beau Geste and the films that were based on it.
- The Tuareg are allies of the European-American protagonists in the 1930 boys' novel Desert Wings by Covington Clarke (pen name of Homer Clarke Venable).
- Spanish author Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa's novel Tuareg (1980) was his most critically and commercially successful, with global sales in excess of 5,000,000 copies. It was adapted into a 1984 movie starring Mark Harmon, Tuareg – The Desert Warrior.
- The 2005 film Sahara featured a fictionalised group of Tuareg as a faction in a civil war underway in Mali.
- Bruce Sterling used a fictionalised Tuareg tribe in his novel Islands in the Net.
- David W. Ball's 1999 novel Empires of Sand tells the story of French and Tuareg cousins, depicting life among the Hoggar Tuareg.
- French author J. M. G. Le Clézio's novel Desert tells of the last days of the Tuareg, the desert nomads known as the "Blue People".
- In 2003 Volkswagen introduced a new SUV named the Touareg.
- In the video game Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War, Tuareg are available to the player as mercenary troops.
- In the tabletop wargame Infinity players can field Tuareg units as scouts and infiltrators.
- Tuareg characters feature in episodes of the third season of the Cinemax series Strike Back.
- Emacs has a Tuareg-mode for editing OCaml files based on the pun, Caml and camel.
- Omara "Bombino" Moctar is an internationally acclaimed Tuareg guitarist and singer-songwriter from Agadez, Niger.
- The Barclaycard advert from 1991, with Rowan Atkinson as MI6 agent Latham and his assistant Bough, is set in Saharan Africa and features the Tuareg people. Latham considers himself knowledgeable on ancient Tuareg culture, and rejects modern day payment card transactions and the accompanying insurance. He attempts to converse in Tuareg while negotiating for the purchase of a valuable rug in a market stall. Humorously, as he leaves the premises with the rolled-up rug balanced over one shoulder, the end swings over an open flame behind him causing it to set alight and, unaware of this, he walks away believing he is smelling Tuareg campfires.
- They were also mentioned in the Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders episode Citizens of the World.
- Moussa Ag Acharatoumane
- Bilal Ag Acherif
- Mahmoud Ag Aghaly
- Bombino (musician)
- Rhissa Ag Boula
- Mano Dayak
- Mahamadou Djeri Maïga
- Iyad Ag Ghaly
- Zodi Ikhia
- Ag Mohammed Wau Teguidda Kaocen
- Issouf Ag Maha
- Mdou Moctar
- Malika Mokeddem
- Mohamed Ag Najem
- Tin Hinan
- Brigi Rafini, incumbent Prime Minister of Niger since 2011
Y-Dna haplogroups, passed on exclusively through the paternal line, were found at the following frequencies in Tuaregs:
|Tuareg (Libya)||47||0||43%||0||0||49%||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||6%||2%||Ottoni et al. (2011)|
|Al Awaynat Tuareg (Libya)||47||0||50%||0||0||39%||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||8%||3%||Ottoni et al. (2011)|
|Tahala Tuareg (Libya)||47||0||11%||0||0||89%||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||Ottoni et al. (2011)|
|Tuareg (Mali)||11||0||9.1%||0||9.1%||81.8%||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||Pereira et al. (2011)|
|Tuareg (Burkina Faso)||18||0||16.7%||0||0||77.8%||0||0||5.6%||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||Pereira et al. (2011)|
|Tuareg (Niger)||18||5.6%||44.4%||0||5.6%||11.1%||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||33.3%||0||Pereira et al. (2011)|
E1b1b is the most common paternal haplogroup among the Tuareg. Most belong to its E1b1b1b (E-M81) subclade, which is colloquially referred to as the Berber marker due to its prevalence among Mozabite, Middle Atlas, Kabyle and other Berber groups. It reaches frequencies of up to 100 percent in some parts of the Maghreb, and is dominated by its sub-clade E-M183. The clade is thought to have originated in North Africa around 14200 years ago. Its parent haplogroup E1b1b is associated with Afro-Asiatic-speaking populations, and is believed to have arisen in the Horn of Africa.
Besides E1b1b, Pereira et al. (2011) and Ottoni et al. (2011) observed that certain Tuareg inhabiting Niger and Libya carry the E1b1a haplogroup (see table above). This clade is today primarily found among Niger-Congo-speaking populations, which suggests that some Tuareg tribes in parts of Libya and Niger may have assimilated many persons of West African origin into their communities. To wit, around 50% of individuals among the Al Awaynat Tuareg in Libya are E1b1a carriers compared to only 11% of the adjacent Tahala Tuareg. 89% of the Tahala belong instead to the E1b1b Tuareg founding lineage.
The nomadic Tuareg have a wide range of ethnicity which varies between each country and within each country. There has not yet been extensive study of the mtDNA of Tuaregs that covers all of the countries they live in. The Libyan Tuaregs, who rank fifth in population of the Tuareg populations, have predominantly Eurasian maternal mtDNA. In a 2009 article by Claudio Ottoni in the Annals of Human Genetics entitled First Genetic Insight into Libyan Tuaregs: A Maternal Perspective reported:
The maternal genetic pool of the Libyan Tuaregs is characterized by a major “European” component shared with the Berbers that could be traced to the Iberian Peninsula, as well as a minor ‘south Saharan’ contribution possibly linked to both Eastern African and Near Eastern populations.
"The mtDNA analysis helped to characterize the Libyan Tuaregs as a mixed group in which two main components are present. A European component, marked by haplogroups H1 and V, is strongly predominant and is shared with some Berber groups and other north African populations as well. Also present is a typically south Saharan component that shows a genetic relationship with Eastern African populations. The L2a1 and L0a1a lineages could be related to the movement of people from Eastern Africa approximately 15,000 years ago and subsequently via the Near East during pastoral movements." "Of note is that the other Tuareg sample described in the literature (Watson et al., 1996) (Western Tuaregs) did not show a close genetic relationship with the Libyan Tuaregs, implying a genetic heterogeneity of the Tuaregs. This difference appears to be primarily caused by the low frequency (8%) of the European component in the Western Tuaregs, characteristic of northern African populations. After the removal of the H and V haplotypes, the Libyan Tuaregs showed a strong affiliation with the Eastern populations, while the Western Tuaregs associated more with the Central and Western African populations" In a later 2010 article also by Ottoni entitled Mitochondria Haplogroup H1 in North Africa: An Early Holocene Arrival from Iberia  the very high frequencies of Haplogroup H1 in Libyan Tuaregs (61%) although at very low diversity indicating the founder effect. Haplogroup H1 is a predominantly European haplogroup believed to have originated in the Near East 20,000-25,000 years ago reaching Europe before the last ice age (LGM). Anatolia, now in the Turkish region is where the highest diversity of H1 is found. H1 is also found in the Western Tuaregs at 23.3% as well as in other berber populations. It is common all over Europe particularly in Southern Europe, highest frequencies in Spanish Basques 27.8%. Ottoni explains the high frequencies in Libyan Tuaregs: "The Tuareg of the Fezzan region (Libya) are characterized by an extremely high frequency (61%) of haplogroup H1, a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup that is common in all Western European populations. To define how and when H1 spread from Europe to North Africa up to the Central Sahara, in Fezzan, we investigated the complete mitochondrial genomes of eleven Libyan Tuareg belonging to H1. Coalescence time estimates suggest an arrival of the European H1 mtDNAs at about 8,000–9,000 years ago, while phylogenetic analyses reveal three novel H1 branches, termed H1v, H1w and H1x, which appear to be specific for North African populations, but whose frequencies can be extremely different even in relatively close Tuareg villages. Overall, these findings support the scenario of an arrival of haplogroup H1 in North Africa from Iberia at the beginning of the Holocene, as a consequence of the improvement in climate conditions after the Younger Dryas cold snap, followed by in situ formation of local H1 sub-haplogroups. This process of autochthonous differentiation continues in the Libyan Tuareg who, probably due to isolation and recent founder events, are characterized by village-specific maternal mtDNA lineages."
- Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com/.
- "Q&A: Tuareg unrest". BBC. 2007-09-07. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
- "Who are the Tuareg? | Art of Being Tuareg: Sahara Nomads in a Modern World". africa.si.edu. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
- "The total Tuareg population is well above one million individuals." Keith Brown, Sarah Ogilvie, Concise encyclopedia of languages of the world, Elsevier, 2008, ISBN 9780080877747, p. 152.
- Hourst, pp. 200–201.
- See Rodd 1926.
- Gearon, Eamonn, (2011) The Sahara: A Cultural History Oxford University Press, p. 239
- Brett, Michael; Elizabeth Fentress The Berbers Wiley Blackwell 1997 ISBN 978-0631207672 p. 208
- Nicolaisen, Johannes and Ida Nicolaisen. The Pastoral Tuareg: Ecology, Culture and Society Vol. I & II. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997, pp. 31.
- Hagan, Helene E. The Shining Ones: An Etymological Essay on the Amazigh Roots of Egyptian Civilization. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris, 2000.
- "Charles de Foucauld - Sera béatifié à l'automne 2005". Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- "Does Supply-Induced Scarcity Drive Violent Conflicts in the African Sahel? The Case of the Tuareg Rebellion in Northern Mali" (Nov., 2008) Journal of Peace Research Vol. 45, No. 6
- "A Political Analysis of Decentralisation: Coopting the Tuareg Threat in Mali" (Sep. 2001) The Journal of Modern African Studies Vol. 39, No. 3
- Denise Youngblood Coleman (June 2013) "Niger, Political Conditions" CountryWatch  (subscription required)
- Jane E. Goodman (2005) Berber Culture on the World Stage: Village to Video, Indiana University Press ISBN 978-0253217844
- "Berbers: Armed movements". Fotw.us. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- Elischer, Sebastian (12 February 2013). "After Mali Comes Niger". Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations). Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- Prasse, pp. 20–21.
- Prasse, pp. 15–17
- Prasse, p. 17
- Prasse, p. 18
- Prasse, pp. 19–20
- dotMailer. "Anti-Slavery - Slavery in Niger". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "Tuareg Society within a Globalized World". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Martin A. Klein. Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa. (African Studies, number 94.) New York: Cambridge University Press. (1998) ISBN 9780521596787
- Edouard Bernus. "Les palmeraies de l'Aïr", Revue de l'Occident Musulman et de la Méditerranée, 11, (1972) pp. 37–50.
- Frederick Brusberg. "Production and Exchange in the Saharan Aïr ", Current Anthropology, Vol. 26, No. 3. (Jun., 1985), pp. 394–395. Field research on the economics of the Aouderas valley, 1984.
- Michael J. Mortimore. "The Changing Resources of Sedentary Communities in Aïr , Southern Sahara", Geographical Review, Vol. 62, No. 1. (Jan., 1972), pp. 71–91.
- Klein (1998) pp.111–140
- Klein (1998) p. 234
- Klein (1998) pp. 234–251
- Klein (1998) "Appendix I:How Many Slaves?" pp. 252–263
- Anti-Slavery International & Association Timidira, Galy kadir Abdelkader, ed. Niger: Slavery in Historical, Legal and Contemporary Perspectives. March 2004
- Hilary Andersson, "Born to be a slave in Niger", BBC Africa, Niger
- "Kayaking to Timbuktu, Writer Sees Slave Trade, More", National Geographic.
- "The Shackles of Slavery in Niger". ABC News. 2005-06-03. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- "Niger: Slavery - an unbroken chain". Irinnews.org. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
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- "The Shackles of Slavery in Niger", ABC News
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- "Mali slavery problem persists after French invasion". USA TODAY. 14 February 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Haven, Cynthia (2007-05-23). "New exhibition highlights the 'artful' Tuareg of the Sahara". News.stanford.edu. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
A Stanford Univ. news article of 23 May 2007
- Spain, Daphne (1992). Gendered Spaces. Univ. of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-2012-1, p. 57.
- Murphy, Robert F. (Apr1966). Untitled review of a 1963 major ethnographic study of the Tuareg. American Anthropologist, New Series, 68 (1966), No.2, 554–556.
- Schlichte, Klaus (1994-03-01). "Is ethnicity a cause of war?". Peace Review 6 (1): 59–65. doi:10.1080/10402659408425775. ISSN 1040-2659.
- Prussin, Labelle "African Nomadic Architecture" 1995.
- Scelta, Gabe (2011). "Much to Learn About Living: Tuareg Architecture and Reﬂections of Knowledge".
- Rasmussen, Susan (1996). "The Tent as Cultural Symbol and Field Site: Social and Symbolic Space, "Topos", and Authority in a Tuareg Community". Anthropological Quarterly 69.
- Rasmussen, Susan J. (1998). "Within the Tent and at the Crossroads: Travel and Gender Identity among the Tuareg of Niger". Ethos 26 (2): 164.
- "First Exhibition of Tuareg Art and Culture in America Appears at Stanford Before Traveling to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art", Cantor Arts Center
- "Mdou Moctar - Akounak Teggdalit Taha Tazoughai TEASER". Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "Mdou Moctar protagoniza un nuevo filme documental: "Rain the Color of Red with a Little Blue In It"". conceptaradio. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
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- "Mdou Moctar - Akonak (TEASER TRAILER 2)". Retrieved 12 January 2014.
- "Who are the Tuareg?". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- Pádraig Carmody. The New Scramble for Africa. Polity. (2011) ISBN 9780745647852
- "Tuareg Mode". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Ottoni, C; Larmuseau, MH; Vanderheyden, N; Martínez-Labarga, C; Primativo, G; Biondi, G; Decorte, R; Rickards, O (May 2011). "Deep into the roots of the Libyan Tuareg: a genetic survey of their paternal heritage". Am J Phys Anthropol 145 (1): 118–24. doi:10.1002/ajpa.21473. PMID 21312181.
- Pereira; et al. (2010). "Y chromosomes and mtDNA of Tuareg nomads from the African Sahel". European Journal of Human Genetics 18: 915–923. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.21. PMC 2987384. PMID 20234393.
- "E-M81 YTree". www.yfull.com. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
- Cruciani, Fulvio; Fratta, Roberta La; Santolamazza, Piero; Sellitto, Daniele; Pascone, Roberto; Moral, Pedro; Watson, Elizabeth; Guida, Valentina; Colomb, Eliane Beraud; Boriana Zaharova; Lavinha, João; Vona, Giuseppe; Aman, Rashid; Calì, Francesco; Akar, Nejat; Richards, Martin; Torroni, Antonio; Novelletto, Andrea; Scozzari, Rosaria (May 2004). "Phylogeographic analysis of haplogroup E3b (E-M215) y chromosomes reveals multiple migratory events within and out of Africa". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 74 (5): 1014–22. doi:10.1086/386294. ISSN 0002-9297. PMC 1181964. PMID 15042509.
- Arredi et al. (2004)
- First Genetic Insight into Libyan Tuaregs: A Maternal Perspective|Claudio Ottoni et. al.|Annals of Human Genetics|2009|doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1809.2009.00526.x
- Ottoni (2010). "Mitochondria Haplogroup H1 in North Africa: An Early Holocene Arrival from Iberia". PLoS ONE 5 (10): e13378. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013378.
- Ghoubeid Alojaly, Karl Prasse, Ghabdouane Mohamed, Dictionnaire touareg-français, Copenhague, Museum Tusculanum, 2003 (2 vols., 1031 p.) - ISBN 87-7289-844-5
- Francis James Rennell Rodd, People of the veil. Being an account of the habits, organisation and history of the wandering Tuareg tribes which inhabit the mountains of Aïr or Asben in the Central Sahara, London, MacMillan & Co., 1926 (repr. Oosterhout, N.B., Anthropological Publications, 1966)
- Heath Jeffrey 2005: A Grammar of Tamashek (Tuareg of Mali). New York: Mouton de Gruyer. Mouton Grammar Library, 35. ISBN 3-11-018484-2
- Hourst, Lieutenant (1898) (translated from the French by Mrs. Arthur Bell) French Enterprise in Africa: The Exploration of the Niger. Chapman Hall, London.
- Prasse, Karl-G (1995) The Tuaregs: The Blue People., Museum Tusculanum Press.
- Rando et al. (1998) "Mitochondrial DNA analysis of northwest African populations reveals genetic exchanges with European, near-eastern, and sub-Saharan populations". Annals of Human Genetics 62(6): 531-50; Watson et al. (1996) mtDNA sequence diversity in Africa. American Journal of Human Genetics 59(2): 437–44; Salas et al. (2002) "The Making of the African mtDNA Landscape". American Journal of Human Genetics 71: 1082–1111. These are good sources for information on the genetic heritage of the Tuareg and their relatedness to other populations.
- Edmond Bernus, "Les Touareg", pp. 162–171 in Vallées du Niger, Paris: Éditions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1993.
- Andre Bourgeot, Les Sociétés Touarègues, Nomadisme, Identité, Résistances, Paris: Karthala, 1995.
- Hélène Claudot-Hawad, ed., "Touregs: Exil et Résistance". Révue du Monde Musulman et de la Méiterranée, No. 57, Aix-en-Provence: Edisud, 1991.
- Claudot-Hawad, Touaregs, Portrait en Fragments, Aix-en-Provence: Edisud, 1993.
- Hélène Claudot-Hawad and Hawad, "Touaregs: Voix Solitaires sous l'Horizon Confisque", Ethnies-Documents No. 20-21, Hiver, 1996.
- Mano Dayak, Touareg: La Tragedie, Paris: Éditions Lattes, 1992.
- Sylvie Ramir, Les Pistes de l'Oubli: Touaregs au Niger, Paris: éditions du Felin, 1991.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tuareg.|
- "Tuareg". Encyclopædia Britannica 27 (11th ed.). 1911.
- Tuareg Culture and Art, Bradshaw Foundation
- Franco Paolinellli, "Tuareg Salt Caravans", Bradshaw Foundation
- la mémoire d'un peuple Culture et Art Touareg - Amawal
- Origin and History of the Tuareg
- Italian Wikipedia: A comprehensive tuareg chronology along with lists of amenokals from Kel Ahaggar, Kel Adagh and Kel Azawagh (Italian).
- Rain for the Sahel and Sahara - a non profit that partners with Tuareg communities in Niger