rope (general & multipurpose); ahellum

Hank of rope 'ahellum' black and white, plaited goat hair ending in tassels bound with orange, green, purple, black and white cotton thread.

Item number 20 on Jeremy Keenan's item list. Goat hair cord with tassels called 'ahellum' in Tamahaq. Keenan acquired this object from Umeyda of the Kel Hirafok people. Price paid: 25 dinar. Keenan refers to fig 208 in Johannes Nicolaisen's 'Ecology and culture of the pastoral Tuareg: with particular reference to the Tuareg of Ahaggar and Ayr' (Nicolaisen, 1963, p 264, fig 208). Nicolaisen describes the manufacture of a cord of goat's hair (which is sheared with a knife by the women once a year in the hot season): '(1) the hair ("éhafilen") is spun around a little stick ("aseggelem"). (2) The spun hair is trebled and twisted into a thread known as "tassarkit", or "tassagit", between two sticks ("iseggelam", sing. "aseggelem"). (3) The finished cord ("ahellum") which is made by trebling the "tassagit" thread' (Nicolaisen, 1963, p 264; for a slightly more detailed description see pp 263-266).

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