Archive for the tuareg Category

The Tuaregs: From African Nomads to Smugglers and Mercenaries

Posted in algeria, amazigh, culture, history, mauritania, morocco, people, politics, sahara, tuareg on February 4, 2012 by kenzilisa


ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images Tuaregs on camelback Sept. 25, 2010, during a festival in northern Niger

The Tuaregs, a nomadic tribe in North and West Africa, dominated the caravan trade through the Sahara Desert for thousands of years. Their entire way of life was disrupted, however, by the imposition of borders, natural desertification, urbanization and the rise of maritime trade. In their quest to survive, the Tuaregs have launched several revolts in Mali and Niger, fought as mercenaries in the Libyan civil war and used their expertise to smuggle illicit goods, which brought them into contact with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). It is the development of these skills and links to AQIM that have brought the Tuaregs to Western governments’ attention.  More here: The Tuaregs: From African Nomads to Smugglers and Mercenaries | STRATFOR.

Finally! A very happy announcement!

Posted in algeria, amazigh, art, ceramics, classes, critique, cuisine, culture, design, food, henna, history, jewelry, jewish, language, mauritania, moor, the book, morocco, music, people, politics, sahara, tattoos, textiles, traditions, travel, tuareg, tunisia, Uncategorized, weddings, women with tags on June 1, 2010 by nictharpa

We are very pleased to announce that “Moor: A Henna Atlas of Morocco” is now available for purchase!

Moor: A Henna Atlas of Morocco

Moor: A Henna Atlas of Morocco

The first book of its kind, “Moor” is the story of henna in Morocco, giving you a first-hand account of how the Moroccans use henna for magic, beauty, and protection. After more than a decade of research, Lisa “Kenzi” Butterworth and Nic Tharpa Cartier are proud to present their findings in this groundbreaking book.

“Moor” contains more than 40 pages of text covering the history and culture of henna in Morocco, as well as an in-depth design manual that gives step-by-step instructions for learning Moroccan design elements and creating authentic and beautiful Moroccan-style henna work. The book also features more than 20 full-color photos of Moroccan-style henna work, as well as over 100 pages of Moroccan henna patterns from traditional and modern sources. “Moor” is the first comprehensive manual covering all aspects of Moroccan henna, and will be invaluable to henna artists, fans of Moroccan culture, and anyone interested in the beauty and rituals of exotic lands.

The book is currently available as a digital PDF download, for $43, from at the following link: or as a full color printed and bound copies  through at the cost of $52 for a softcover printing and $70 for a hardcover.

B’saha! Wear henna in good health!

Alluring Indigo

Posted in algeria, amazigh, art, culture, henna, mauritania, morocco, people, sahara, textiles, traditions, tuareg, women with tags , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by nictharpa

What is the first color that comes to your mind when you think of Morocco? For me, it is blue. There are so many, many shades of blue at home in Morocco and their stark contrast to the oranges and reds of the earth and architecture of the region is truly striking. To me though, the most fantastic blues are the indigo hues associated with the Southern part of the country, worn by the Tuareg and related people. 

The Tuareg have been called the ‘blue men’ of the Sahara because of their traditional choice in garments, voluminous draped and wound fabrics dyed a deep and lustrous indigo blue without using water. The pigment is pounded into cotton fabrics which are not rinsed, and as a result, the blue flakes and rubs off onto the skin. 

wearing indigo cloth

Tuareg woman wearing indigo cloth


The woman to the left is wearing a tunic and headcloth made of the classic deep, purplish indigo. The purple tinge is a result of the indigo’s interaction with the air, and is referred to by dyers as the bloom of the indigo. 

Indigo cloth is dyed outside Morocco, in Niger, Mali, and Guinea, and traded northward to the Tuareg and related groups along the routes of the camel caravans. It is prized all over North and West Africa. 

But do the Tuareg use henna, you ask? Yes, they do. Today’s Tuareg use simple bold designs, sometimes created through resist processes. The famous Guedra dance is an important occasion for Tuareg women to wear henna— photos of this can be seen in the book Africa Adorned, by Angela Fisher.