Using the leaves of the doum palm, women of Niger’s Tuareg tribe weave this shallow basket using a method called poincon, after the French word for an awl or punch tool. This natural, ecological material is richly abundant in the Tuareg’s landscape and the products have always been used in their nomadic life.
Although the Tuareg have always been a semi-matriarchal, nomadic society, the pressures of government regulation, extreme drought, and the influence of Islam have led to more Tuareg settling in one area, and to women having a more subordinate role. Through crafts like these palm baskets, women are able to have an independent and economically empowered role in family life despite changes in the tribe’s traditional lifestyle.
A metal bead woven into each basket tells in which village in Niger the basket was woven and gives a code that you can enter at the craft collective’s website to learn more about that village and the artisans who work there. The disc at the heart of each basket symbolizes the sun. Indigo-dyed and natural palm “sunbeams” radiate from this disc to create an eye-catching design.
Handmade in Niger. 17" diam. x 3"H.
Traditionally semi-nomadic, some call Tuaregs the "Blue People" due to the indigo used to dye men's deep blue tagelmusts (turbans). The romantic image of tall regal men in flowing robes with only eyes visible riding great white camels is true, but it's only a fraction of the Tuareg story. Most Tuaregs live in northern Niger with some in Mali and Algeria. Drought and civil unrest led many to abandon the nomadic herding lifestyle and move to cities. Despite trading tents for mud brick houses, visits to the homeland hone a keen sense of heritage and culture.
Three ancient Tuareg classes, nobles (camel herders), vassals (goat herders), and slaves (now outlawed) still exist, but are inverted. Herdless nobles and vassals who resisted education now lead meager city lives while educated slave descendants are now largely the more prosperous class.
Tuaregs are semi-matriarchal. Women have strong say in selecting (or divorcing) mates, family decisions, own family homes and solely inherit property. While rearing their youngsters is their first priority, Tuareg women also have small business enterprises including the manufacture of leather goods.
I have a collection of African baskets, displaying them both on a wall and as holders of objects. This basket is unique with it's silver sun, and I am hopeful that NG will carry more from this collection
Bottom Line Yes, I would recommend this to a friend