The Tuareg are often referred to as “Blue People” due to the indigo color of their veils and clothing that regularly stains their skin.

“The Tuareg today inhabit a vast area in the Sahara, stretching from far southwestern Algeria, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Their combined population in these territories exceeds 2.5 million, with an estimated population in Niger of around 2 million (11% of inhabitants) and in Mali of another 0.5 million (3% of inhabitants). The Tuareg are also the majority ethnic group in the Kidal Region of northeastern Mali.

In antiquity, the Tuareg moved southward from the Tafilalt region into the Sahel under the Tuareg region into the Sahel under the Tuareg founding queen Tin Hinan, who is believed to have lived between the 4th and 5th century. The matriarch’s 1,500 year old monumental tomb is located in the Sahara at Abalessa in the Hoggar Mountains of southern Algeria. Vestiges of an inscription in Tifinagh, the Tuareg’s traditional Libyco-Berber writing script, have been found on one of the ancient sepulchre’s walls.

…Some studies have linked the Tuareg to early ancient Egyptian civilization.

At the turn of the 19th century, the Tuareg territory was organized 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 have been seven major confederations.

In the late 19th century, the Tuareg resisted the French colonial invasion of their Central Saharan homelands. The French expedition, led by Flatters, was annihilated by Tuareg attack in 1881. 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 defense of the region. Finally, Tuareg territories were taken under French governance, and their confederations were largely dismantled and reorganized.

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 originated 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 being wearing a veil when they reach maturity. The veil usually conceals their face, excluding their eyes and the top of the nose.”

Source:

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Tuareg people’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 May. 2017. Web. 26 Jun. 2017