Tuareg veils (world gallery - additional information)

Tuareg veils

The face veil is an iconic part of Tuareg dress. In the Tamashek language spoken by the Tuareg, a man’s veil is called Tagelmust. A woman’s veil is called adeko or afar. Wearing the face veil – sometimes with a silver veil weight attached (see 2007.153) – is considered a sign of adulthood, and a man receives his first veil when he is about twenty years’ old. A woman receives hers when she gets married. According to :nicolaisen’s published work on the Tuareg (1963), there are conflicting opinions on why the veil is worn: some state that it’s for hygiene purposes (protecting the wearer from the desert dust and sand); for religious purposes and/or for protection from the evil eye. It is widely agreed that the face veil serves a social function. When in the presence of foreigners and especially mother-in-laws, for example, a man’s brow, nose and mouth is covered up, and a woman draws her veil over her mouth in the presence of foreigners (and in particular her father-in-law). Men are believed to be more at risk than women from harms caused by the ‘evil eye’ and ‘evil mouth’ (of speech) (:c_spring 1993: 28) and consequently, it is more important for them to cover their brows, noses and mouths than women. The anthropologist :ines_kohl (2007: 114) has described the ways in which the practice of lowering or raising the face veil to cover the mouth indicates the respect that the wearer has towards his or her counterpart in conversation. The individual who is giving respect will raise his or her veil higher out of degrees of politeness. The person who commands the most respect will therefore be the individual wearing the lowest veil. :kohl also describes the initiation ceremony known as anagad (or ahaggar in other literature), during which the man will receive his first face veil. Relatives and neighbours are invited, a sheep or a goat is slaughtered and a religious scholar recites the first verse of the Koran. She states that the individual will then be given his first tagelmust by his father or paternal or maternal uncle and that he wears it for an entire week, day and night without removing it once.

Object list

* 2007.269* :2007.258.3* :2007.267

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

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