tuareg

Berber Jewelry from the collection of Yves Saint Lauren and Pierre Bergé

Berber Jewelry from the collection of Yves Saint Lauren and Pierre Bergé

We recently returned from a wonderfully inspiring trip to Marrakech and Essaouira. Having not been in quite some time, it was so refreshing to find ourselves surrounded by such colors, history, architecture, craft and tradition.

From the new Yves Saint Laurent Museum by Studio Ko, to the many adventures and characters we encountered on our hunt for the perfect rugs to bring back to the shop, the trip deserves it own separate journal post but, in the meantime, a quick introduction the Tuareg people of Saharan Africa as we’ve just added to the website a small collection of their pieces from our travels.

The Tuaregs are a nomadic Berber group who inhabit the Sahara Desert, including in Mali, Niger, Algeria, Chad and as far as Libya and Morocco. Often referred to as the ‘blue men of the desert’ for their indigo turbans and robes, dyed from the ink of Mediterranean sea urchins, they are a fiercely independent people with a culture rich in history and tradition.

Much of Tuareg identity and spirit is expressed in their jewelry, as well as leather and metal saddle decorations, and finely crafted swords. Their unique jewelry is typically made from silver and often combined with other items collected along their travels. Each piece of Tuareg jewelry has special meaning and often contains historical symbols, passed down from generation to generation. 

Living in one of the most inhospitable areas of the planet, their existence is dominated by an overriding concern to protect and defend themselves, not only from almost unbearable weather conditions, but also from perceived hostile supernatural forces. They value items that are believed to bring about protection, good fortune and well being, the most important being amulets and talismans. Every Tuareg, man, woman or child, has either an amulet or talisman. 

Although decorative and often sculptural, there is such fierceness to Tuareg and indeed all Berber jewelry, which is what really draws us to it. Tied as much to empowerment as adornment, it’s anything but delicate, a testament to the strength of women within their tribal worlds.

Of course, not all of this translates when taken out of context and while we love some of the more elaborate Berber pieces, our collection focuses mostly on their simpler, more wearable pieces. Click here to take a look.