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World Design Focus: The Tuareg of the Sahara

The Tuaregs of Africa

We’re in the midst of launching a new collection of absorbent towels and will write up more about them soon. But before that happens, we realized many customers may never have heard of the people group – the Tuareg – from which some of our towel designs come. So here’s our introduction to the Tuareg of the Sahara:

By Jason Hall, Creative Commons license 

The Berber-speaking Tuareg live throughout Niger, Mali, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya and Morocco. They are traditionally nomadic and don’t see themselves as belonging to any one country. Instead, they call the Sahara Desert their land.

The Tuareg are often known as the “Blue People” based on the rich blue robes and turbans they traditionally wear. The beautiful blue color is derived from Sea Urchins in the Mediterranean. The ink is turned into a powder which is then worked by hand into the textiles. The blue dye is so strong that it often tints the skin of those who wear the fabrics.

Photo by Thomas Maluck, Creative Commons license

No GPS needed here! Using the sun and stars, but also sand dunes and wind, Tuaregs navigate the desert. In fact, according to James Dorsey, they claim to be able to follow tracks in the sand long after the visible prints have vanished.

Though primarily Muslim, the Tuareg follow many practices that stand in opposition to traditional Islam. For example, men – not women – cover their faces with veils. The society also follows a more matriarchal structure with women being through whom family lines are traced

Want to explore more of the Tuareg culture or have some easy activities to do with your kids? Here’s some options:

Top picture by Acquimat4, used with a Creative Commons license

The Tuareg of the Saraha

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