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The Tuareg Tent


   The tent represents an important symbol for the nomadic Tuareg cultural heritage. It is a central element within family and social relations in the Tuareg society. The Tuareg tent reflects a lot of values; it is there that one lives, eats, drinks tea and sleep. Alongside tea (the drink) and dromedary (the animal), the tent symbolizes the refuge and is one of the three pillars of Tuareg life. Its form remains faithful to ancestral traditions, while other elements have often been modernized.

   The traditional tent was originally woven by the women. It is made with dromedary hair, sheep's hair or woven goat hair. This mode of weaving still persists but is very rare because of its high manufacturing cost. Current families therefore tend to buy canvas tents, known as "Kaitoun", which are much more economical. It is designed in a triangular shape to avoid rainwater infiltration and resist storms .Tent is composed of two pillars linked together with a rope; the tent is fixed to the ground with stakes called "Akhoualaf". It traditionally provides separate spatial units between men and women, that is to say, the tent consists of part for women, the other for men and a space most often reserved for prayer and receives guests. It is designed to be easily mounted or disassembled. It is mounted with height because it symbolizes generosity, so that the passenger can see it from afar, and thus be assured and reassured to find shelter and protection.

   Tuaregs learned to build and orient their tents from their ancestral. According to the Tuaregs’ beliefs, the north of the tent is considered harmful because evil beings called kel-esuf "those of solitude" crowded in large numbers, especially at dusk, while the south is charged with blessing. For them, in other words, in the south there are fertile areas from which their millet comes, while in the north there is only desert and hunger. This belief is also well displayed in the conjugal bed; the man is placed in the north to protect his wife against the kel-esuf. That is why, on wedding day, the groom must enter the nuptial tent by the north, and the bride by the south. Again, the same applies to when God created the world, he placed Adam to the north and Eve to the south. Moreover, the Tuareg woman is always compared to the tent among the Tuareg region .She is called the guardian of the tent. This society make a feminine domain to protect them from this supernatural danger because of their affinity with the tent, women are more naturally protected. The tents belong to women. When a mother marries her daughter, she donates her own tent or takes care of her until to make a tent. The young bride comes to install in the camp of her husband .In the Tuareg society, the man finds a tent when he takes a wife, but, if he becomes an old man, or in case of divorce or widowhood ,this brings him back to the precarious position of adolescents who go without a tent. Thus, the wearing of the veil means that a lot of men are deprived  of tents .The men are thus somehow outside the tent, this tent, of which we have seen that the camps are mobile and incessantly composed and decomposed according to the marriages and divorces.

The Tuareg Tent (Written by ARAB Sabrina)

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