The masked men…

The Touareg are a number of Amazigh tribes (the word means the free men, they are the same people the Romans called Barbarians while they colonized north Africa) from the south of northern Africa (south Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and northern Nigeria, Mali and Chad)

A blue man

A blue man

Photo taken from echoroukonline forums

A man of the Touareg tribes never shows his face, there are different stories of why that is so.

One of these stories is related directly to the travels of the great queen Tinhinane of the Touareg. Who is said to be the mother of most of the Tuareg tribes of today.

queen Tinhinane

queen Tinhinane

The queen Tinhinane, Photo taken from Wikimedia

Tinhinane was an Amazigh woman that have abandoned her own tribe in south of Morocco due to the mistreatment of the ruling family, dressed as a man she took her white camel and traveled in the wide Sahara in the south of Algeria towards Tamenrast (located in the furthest south of Algeria, north Africa) alongside her maid Tamakat and some slaves.

After a long journey, they came to a source of water. She and her company set to water the animals and themselves when the men of the resident tribe came upon them thinking of them as intruders that drank their water without permission, needless to say that in a wide hot Sahara, water is more precious than gold and worth a war.

Touareg men on camels

Touareg men on camels

Photo taken from flickr

The men attacked the two women not knowing their gender especially as one of them, the lady Tinhinane herself, fought with excellency. One of the riders’ swords cut the veil the lady Tinhinane wore upon her face and then it was obvious: The honorable men attacked women.

The warriors were very ashamed of themselves, so they vowed to never show their faces in the open ever again, and seeing how well the lady had done fighting for her honor and life against them, they made her their queen. And the lady, became Tinhinane, queen of the Touareg.

Another story is told about the son of the queen Tinhinane: Hougare, after whom the mountains in Tamenrast are named. This great warrior once ran from the battle in fear of loosing and when he and his army came by the entrance of their own tribe, he realized his mistake. His actions were not fit for a king and son of the great queen. For an entire month he and his men camped outside their homes fearing the blame and shame in facing their women. Eventually food and water ran out and they had to go home. The king Hougare had no choice but to enter the tribe camp with his face hidden in shame, and so did all his men making it into a tradition that still lives on till today.

Nowadays, you’d see the men of the Touareg tribe, also called the blue men, with their faces hidden even in universities and everyday modern life. Speak of culture and tradition 🙂

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