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20+ Facts About Tuareg People, Where Some Men Are Only Allowed One Camel After Divorce

If you don’t really know what to imagine when you hear the word “Tuareg” this article is definitely for you. The Tuareg people live in North Africa and even in the Sahara.

We at Bright Side were quite amazed when we found out more about the life of this ethnic group where women are in charge and men have to work and cover their faces.

  • The Tuareg people are a big ethnic Berber group, and they don’t have their own country. They live in the territories of several countries in North and West Africa, including Mali and Algeria, and also in the Sahara desert.

  • They are believed to be very brave people that are not afraid of obstacles which is why the off-road Volkswagen Touareg was named after them.

  • The Tuareg people traditionally wear indigo-colored clothes. Because these clothes slightly dye their skin, they are called blue people.

  • In the Tuareg society, women are highly respected because they carry a social status, they inherit the cattle and the property, they can initiate the divorce and even make their ex-husbands leave their home. Very often, a camel is the only thing a man has after getting divorced.

  • Parents and their children (the nuclear family) live in a tent that is named after the married woman who owns it.

  • Many Tuareg groups have myths about the female ancestors who were founders of traditions. One is Tagurmat, who fought a battle on Mount Bagzan in the Air region. Her twin daughters are said to have founded the herbal healing profession.

  • The main reason why women are so important in Tuareg society is because they think that they are descendants of the great queen Tin Hinan. According to the legend, she united the tribes and became the mother of the Tuareg people.

  • The Tuareg people are matrilineal, which means that they trace their bloodlines through women.

  • The maternal bloodline is considered to be more powerful, which is why men leave their belongings not to their own sons, but to the sons of their sisters.

  • The Tuareg women have a lot of freedom and advantages. Unlike the women of other Muslim societies, they don’t hide their faces in public.

  • Women don’t work in the desert and they don’t graze livestock, they only collect the harvest.

  • Male Tuaregs have to wear a scarf covering their face for their entire lives. They protect them from the sandy winds of the Sahara desert and they are also the symbols of their identities.

  • The fact that they cover their faces and keep their eyes open has a meaning: they believe it’s also protection against evil spirits.

  • Also, men can put the scarf high, covering their noses and mouths — this is an expression of respect for superiors, older people, and relatives.

  • It is considered very rude for a man to eat in front of a woman that is not his partner. Men also can’t eat in front of their mothers-in-law, it’s considered especially bad manners. If this, by chance, happens, a man has to turn his back to his mother-in-law and finish eating.

  • Men mostly shepherd livestock but it’s not always enough to make a living. So, they often accompany caravans, trade, and make things for tourists.

  • The Tuareg people believe that when a child is born, he or she still has a very strong connection to the world of spirits. To break the connection, one week after a child is born, their hair is shaved and they are given a secret name in the Tamasheq language. And in a mosque, the child is given an Arab name from the Koran.

  • Even though the Tuareg people settle in towns and eagerly collaborate with the modern world, their society is traditionally feudal, ranging from nobles, through clergy, vassals, and artisans, to laborers (once slaves).

  • This division is very important when choosing a husband. Usually, the Tuaregs marry people from the same class, and preferably, one of their close relatives.

  • In order to attract the attention of a girl, a man has to have a talent for writing poetry and make poems for the woman he likes. Men will spend hours choosing the most tender words in the hopes of winning a woman over.

  • One of the most important ceremonies in the lives of the Tuareg people is drinking tea. There are a lot of nuances, rules, and rituals about it. They drink tea after every meal, and it’s a signal that it’s time to take a nap.

  • It’s really rude to be someone’s guest and not drink at least one cup of tea. If you drink 3 cups, these people will be really happy to host you.

  • The Tuareg people say that the first tea serving is bitter like life: the taste of the Chinese green tea is not mixed with water. The second one is sweet like love: they add more sugar, and the tea is not that strong anymore. The third one is as light as the breath of death: it’s like water with a bit of sugar.

  • Even though their traditions and national customs are very strong, they are open to the world. Anyone can visit their musical or cultural events and even listen to some performers.

  • In 2015, the first musical drama film was released (in the Tamasheq language) telling the story of a Tuareg musician.

What do you think about Tuareg principles and their attitude toward men and women?

Preview photo credit EAST NEWS
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