The Rich Mythology and Megalithic Culture of the Ancient Berbers, Lords of the Desert

The Barbary Coast of North Africa was named after the Berbers, the nomadic people who inhabited the region west of the Nile Valley in north Africa. Called the Amazigh or Imazighen in antiquity (meaning "free humans" or "free men"), they are among the oldest inhabitants of North Africa. Their rich mythology endured for thousands of years, eventually coming to influence the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.

The history of the Berber people in northern Africa is extensive and diverse. The Berbers are a large group of non-Arabic tribes related by language and culture and inhabiting areas stretching from Egypt to the Canary Islands as well as regions south of the Sahara , such as Niger and Mali. Archaeologists have traced their origins to the Caspian culture, a North African civilization that dates back more than 10,000 years. Berber-speaking people have lived in North Africa since the earliest times and are first referenced by the Egyptians in 3,000 BC under the name Temehu. Phoenician, Greek, and Roman texts also refer to them.

An Egyptian statuette representing a vanquished Libyan Libu Berber. Reign of Rameses II (19th Dynasty), 1279–1213 BC. (Louvre Museum, Paris). (Guillaume Blanchard/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

A Crossroad of Berber People

Since prehistoric times, Berber lands have been a crossroad of peoples from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks, Spaniards, French, and Italians have invaded and ruled portions of the Berber homeland. However, the Berbers have never experienced a unified political identity. There have been many Berber kingdoms and cultures existing alongside one another in various regions of North Africa and Spain, but never a unified "Berber empire".

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Throughout the centuries, Berbers have mixed with many ethnic groups, including Arabs, and because of this, they have come to be identified more by linguistics instead race. Their language is one of the oldest in the world and belongs to the African branch of the Afro-Asian language family, along with ancient Egyptian.

A beautiful young Berber woman of Tunisia, with tattoo and traditional jewelry (early 1900s). Photo by Rudolf Lehnert. ( )

Berber Mythology

Although never formalized beyond local cults, the Berbers had a rich mythology and belief system structured around a pantheon of gods. Many of their beliefs were developed locally while some were imported or later influenced by contact with other African mythologies, such as the Egyptian religion, along with Phoenician mythology, Judaism, Iberian mythology, and the Hellenistic religion during antiquity.

The most recent influence came from Arab mythology, when the Berbers were converted to Islam during the ninth century. Today, some of the traditional, ancient, pagan Berber beliefs still exist within the culture and tradition, especially in Algeria, where older cults still survive to varying extents.

Tariq ibn Ziyad, Berber Muslim and Umayyad general who led the conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 711. ( Public Domain )

Many prehistoric peoples considered rocks to be holy, including the Berbers. Second century Latin writer Apuleius, along with Saint Augustine , bishop of the Hippo Regius (the ancient name of the modern city of Annaba, in Algeria), both remarked on rock-worship among North Africans. The Greek historian Herodotus also wrote of their ancient sacrificial practices:

They begin with the ear of the victim, which they cut off and throw over their house: this done, they kill the animal by twisting the neck. They sacrifice to the Sun and Moon, but not to any other god.

The Megalithic Culture of the Berbers

The megalithic aspect of the Berber culture may have been used as a cult of the dead and/or star-worship. The best known rock monument in Northwest Africa is Mzora (or Msoura). It is composed of a circle of megaliths surrounding a tumulus. The current site of 168 remaining stones first became known in the west in 1830 AD, thousands of years after it was constructed. The tallest megalith measures more than 5 meters (16 feet) in height. According to legend, it is the resting place of the mythical Berber king, Antaeus. He was a legendary giant who was slayed by the heroic demi-god Hercules as one of his labors.

Another megalithic monument connected to the Berbers was discovered in 1926 south of Casablanca and was engraved with funerary inscriptions in the Libyco-Berber script known as Tifinagh.

Sketch of Mzora Stone Circle, 1830 The Mysterious Moroccan Megalithic Menhirs of Mzora.

The tombs of the early Berbers and their ancestors (the Caspian’s and Ibero-Mauresians) indicate that they believed in the afterlife. The prehistoric men of the region of northwest Africa buried their bodies in the ground. Later, they buried the dead in caves, tumuli (burial mounds), and tombs cut into rock. These tombs evolved from primitive structures to more elaborate ones, such as the pyramidal tombs that spread throughout North Africa.

The best known Berber pyramids are the 19 meter (62 ft) pre-Roman Numidian pyramid of Medracen and the 30-meter (98 ft) tall ancient Mauritanian pyramid located in modern-day Algeria. Also known as the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania , the mausoleum is believed to have been the final resting place for Berber King Juba II and Queen Cleopatra Selene II, the rulers of Numidia and Mauretania. However, no human remains have been located at the site, leading some scholars to suggest the tomb was probably looted at some point.

Numidian pyramid of Medracen. (Reda Kerbush/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

Influencing Worship of Egyptian Gods

Among ancient Berber and Egyptian mythology there are similar and overlapping deities. The Berbers were neighbors of the Egyptians, originally inhabiting the lands of Libya for thousands of years before the beginning of human records in ancient Egypt. It is thought that some ancient Egyptian deities, such as Isis and Set, were originally worshipped by the Berbers.

Osiris was one of the Egyptian deities’ paid homage to in Libya and some scholars believe Osiris was originally a Libyan god. Berbers supposedly did not eat swine flesh because it was associated with Set and they did not eat cow flesh, because it was associated with Isis. This was reported by Herodotus:

Cow's flesh, however, none of these [Libyan] tribes ever taste, but abstain from it for the same reason as the Egyptians, neither do they any of them breed swine. Even at Cyrene, the women think it wrong to eat the flesh of the cow, honoring in this Isis, the Egyptian goddess, whom they worship both with fasts and festivals. The Barcaean women abstain, not from cow's flesh only, but also from the flesh of swine

Another one of their deities the Egyptians worshipped but considered to have a Libyan origin was Neith, who is said to have emigrated from Libya to establish her temple at Sais in the Nile Delta . Some legends say that Neith was born around Lake Tritons or modern Tunisia. It is notable that some Egyptian deities were depicted with Berber (ancient Libyan) characters, such as "Ament" - who was depicted with two feathers, which were the normal ornaments of the ancient Libyans as shown by the ancient Egyptians.

Aegis of Neith from the Late Period, Twenty-sixth dynasty (ca. 664-525 BC) golden bronze, Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon. (Rama /CC BY SA 2.0 )

The most remarkable common god between Egyptian and Berber culture was Amon. King of the gods and god of the wind, he was adopted by the ancient Egyptians as Amen-Ra, by the Greeks as Zeus-Amon, and by the Phoenicians as Baal-Amon.

Represented in human form, sometimes with a ram’s head, early depictions of rams have been found across North Africa dating to 9600 BC and 7500 BC. The most famous temple of Ammon in Ancient Libya was the augural temple at Siwa in Egypt, an oasis still inhabited by the Berbers. Although most modern sources ignore the existence of Ammon in Berber mythology, he was honored by the ancient Greeks in Cyrenaica, and was united with the Phoenician god Baal due to Libyan influence.

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Embracing Berber Culture

While much of the Berber culture has been suppressed over the years, in Tunisia it is seeing a revival . Ever since the 2011 ousting of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had enforced decades of language and cultural suppression in his pursuit of a united nation, interest in Berber culture has reemerged. Today, there are now more than 20 organizations actively promoting Berber culture and heritage.

Berber musicians. ( kippis /Adobe)

Ghana Empire

The Ghana Empire (c. 300 until c. 1100), properly known as Wagadou (Ghana being the title of its ruler), was a West African empire located in the area of present-day southeastern Mauritania and western Mali. Complex societies based on trans-Saharan trade in salt and gold had existed in the region since ancient times, [1] but the introduction of the camel to the western Sahara in the 3rd century CE, opened the way to great changes in the area that became the Ghana Empire. By the time of the Muslim conquest of North Africa in the 7th century the camel had changed the ancient, more irregular trade routes into a trade network running from Morocco to the Niger River. The Ghana Empire grew rich from this increased trans-Saharan trade in gold and salt, allowing for larger urban centres to develop. The traffic furthermore encouraged territorial expansion to gain control over the different trade routes.

  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Senegal

When Ghana's ruling dynasty began remains uncertain. It is mentioned for the first time in written records by Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī in 830. [2] In the 11th century the Cordoban scholar Al-Bakri travelled to the region and gave a detailed description of the kingdom.

As the empire declined, it finally became a vassal of the rising Mali Empire at some point in the 13th century. When, in 1957, the Gold Coast became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain its independence from colonial rule, it renamed itself Ghana in honor of the long-gone empire.



The Circassians refer to themselves as Adyghe [33] (also transliterated as Adyga, Adiga, Adige, Adığe, Adyge, Adygei, Adyghe, Attéghéi). The name is believed to derive from atté "height" to signify a mountaineer or a highlander, and ghéi "sea", signifying "a people dwelling and inhabiting a mountainous country near the sea coast", or "between two seas". [34] [35]

Circassian, Charkas, Cherkess

The word "Circassian" ( / s ər ˈ k æ s i ə n z / sər- KASS -ee-ənz) is an exonym, Latinized from Russian "Cherkesy", which is of unknown/debated origin. [36] The Russians referred to all Circassian tribes as Cherkesy, which may be derived from Kerkety, the name of one of the Adyghe tribes native to the northwestern Caucasus. [37] The ancient Greeks referred to Circassia as "Siraces". Although most scholars argue that the name "Cherkes" is derived from the word Siraces, there are various opinions. According to one view, the name "Cherkes" was given to them by the Turkic states that were neighbors in the Middle Ages. According to another view, its origin is Persian. According to another, and no longer widely accepted, view, it is possible to explain the etymology of the name with the Turkish word for soldier "çeri", and the imperative mode of the verb cut "kes" (Çeri-kes), roughly giving the meaning "soldier cutter". This is an example of folk etymology and it is not correct. [38]

In languages in the geography close to the Caucasus, although the native people originally had other names for the Circassian people (for example, Georgian: Jiqeti), with Russian influence, the name has been settled as "Cherkes/Circassian". It is the same or similar in many world languages that cite these languages.

In early Russian sources, the Circassians are referred to as Kasogi, whereas in medieval Arabic sources, Kasogi is written as Jarkas and Jahārkas. [37] The spelling Charkas may be an abbreviation of Persian Chahār-kas ("four people"), denoting four tribes. [37] Though "Jahārkas" was used by Ibn Khaldun (died 1406) and Ali ibn al-Athir (died c. 1232/3), the Persian hypothesis remains uncertain. [37]

With the advent of the Golden Horde in the 13th century, the designation Cherkess "came to refer to the Adyghe who remained in the Caucasus". [37] This in turn created terminology "anomalies", and as a result, Cherkes became often used alongside other names such as Adyghe, Abaza, and Abkhaz. [37] In Medieval Oriental and European texts, "the Adyghe people were known by the name Cherkess/Circassians". [37]

The Encyclopaedia Islamica adds: "The Cherkess, the Kabardians and the western Adyghe people share a common language, which is spoken by the north-western Caucasian people, and belongs to the family known as Abkhazian-Adyghe". [37] [39] In Persian sources, Charkas/Cherkes is used to refer to the "actual" Circassians of the northwest Caucasus, and in some occasions as a general designation for Caucasians who live beyond Derbent (Darband). [40]

Soviet policy

Despite a common self-designation and a common Russian name, [41] Soviet authorities applied four designations to Circassians remaining in the historic lands of Circassia: [ citation needed ]

    , Circassians of Kabardino-Balkaria (Circassians speaking the Kabardian language, [42][43] one of two indigenous peoples of the republic. (Adyghe: Шэрджэс Šărdžăs), Circassians of Karachay-Cherkessia (Circassians speaking the Cherkess, i.e. Circassian, language [42][43] one of two indigenous peoples of the republic who are mostly Besleney Kabardians. The name "Cherkess" is the Russian form of "Circassian" and was used for all Circassians before Soviet times. or Adygeans, the indigenous population of the Kuban including Adygea and Krasnodar Krai. [44] , the indigenous historical inhabitants of Shapsugia. They live in the Tuapse District and the Lazarevsky City District (formerly the Shapsugsky National District) of Sochi, both in Krasnodar Krai and in Adygea.


Genetically, the Adyghe have shared ancestry partially with neighboring peoples of the Caucasus, with some influence from the other regions. [45] The Circassian language, also known as Cherkess, is a member of the Northwest Caucasian language family. Archaeological findings, mainly of dolmens in Northwest Caucasus region, indicate a megalithic culture in the Northwest Caucasus. [46]

The ancestors of present-day Circassians are known as the Sind-Maeot tribes. [47] [48] [49] Findings obtained as a result of archaeological research show that these tribes were the indigenous people of the Caucasus. [50] [51] Some researchers have claimed there may be links between Circassians and Indo-European-speaking communities, [52] and some have argued that there are connections between Circassians and Hatti, who are from ancient Anatolian peoples, [53] [54] [55] but these theories have not been addressed further and are not widely accepted. Within the scope of genetic tests performed on Circassians, the closest relatives of Circassians were found to be Ingush, Chechens and Abkhazians. [56]

Some groups of nationalist Turks have claimed that the Circassians are of Turkic origin, but no scientific evidence has been published to support this claim, and has been strongly denied by Circassians, [57] impartial research, [58] [59] [60] [61] [62] [63] linguists [64] and historians [65] around the world. Circassian language is not similar to the Turkish language except for borrowed words. According to various historians, the Circassian origin of the Sind-Meot tribes refutes the claim that the Circassians are of Turkic origin. The community, including Circassians, is today classified as "White Caucasian Peoples". [58] Still, some Turkic groups have persisted in claiming Circassians are of Turkic origin, and argued that no proof is needed.

Medieval period

Feudalism began to emerge in Circassians by the 4th century. As a result of Armenian, Greek and Byzantine influence, Christianity spread throughout the Caucasus between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD. [66] [67] During that period the Circassians (referred to at the time as Kassogs) [68] began to accept Christianity as a national religion, but did not abandon all elements of their indigenous religious beliefs. Circassians established many states, but could not achieve political unity. From around 400 AD wave after wave of invaders began to invade the lands of the Adyghe people, who were also known as the Kasogi (or Kassogs) at the time. They were conquered first by the Bulgars (who originated on the Central Asian steppes). Outsiders sometimes confused the Adyghe people with the similarly named Utigurs (a branch of the Bulgars), and both peoples were sometimes conflated under misnomers such as "Utige". Following the dissolution of the Khazar state, the Adyghe people were integrated around the end of the 1st millennium AD into the Kingdom of Alania. Between the 10th and 13th centuries Georgia had influence on the Adyghe Circassian peoples.

In 1382, Circassian slaves took the Mamluk throne, the Burji dynasty took over and the Mamluks became a Circassian state. The Mongols, who started invading the Caucasus in 1223, destroyed some of the Circassians and most of the Alans. The Circassians, who lost most of their lands during the ensuing Golden Horde attacks, had to retreat to the back of the Kuban River. In 1395 Circassians fought violent wars against Tamerlane, and although the Circassians won the wars, [69] Tamerlane plundered Circassia. [70]

Prince Inal, who during the 1400s [71] owned land in the Taman peninsula, established an army declared that his goal was to unite the Circassians, [72] which were divided into many states at that time, under a single state, and after declaring his own princedom, conquered all of Circassia one by one. [73] Circassian nobles and princes tried to prevent Inal's rise, but 30 Circassian lords were defeated by Inal and his supporters. [74] Although he united the Circassians, Inal still wanted to include the couisn people, the Abkhaz, Inal, who won the war in Abkhazia, officially conquered Northern Abkhazia and the Abkhaz people recognized the rule of Inal, and Inal finalized his rule in Abkhazia. [69] [75] [74] [76] [77] One of the stars on the flag of Abkhazia represents Inal. Inal divided his lands between his sons and grandchildren in 1453 and died in 1458. Following this, Circassian tribal principalities were established. Some of these are Chemguy founded by Temruk, Besleney founded by Beslan, Kabardia founded by Qabard, and Shapsug founded by Zanoko.

Early modern period

In the 17th century, under the influence of the Crimean Tatars and of the Ottoman Empire, large numbers of Circassians converted to Islam from Christianity. [78]

In 1708, Circassians paid tribute to the Ottoman sultan in order to prevent Tatar raids, but the sultan did not fulfill the obligation and the Tatars raided all the way to the center of Circassia, robbing everything they could. [79] For this reason, Kabardian Circassians announced that they would never pay tribute to the Crimean Khan and the Ottoman Sultan again. [80] The Ottomans sent their army of at least 20,000 men [81] to Kabardia under the leadership of the Crimean khan Kaplan-Girey to conquer the Circassians and ordered him collect the tribute. [82] [83] The Ottomans expected an easy victory against the Kabardinians, but the Circassians won [84] because of the strategy set up by the Kazaniko Jabagh. [79] [85] [86] [87] [88] [89]

The Crimean army was destroyed in one night on 17 September 1708. The Crimean Khan Kaplan-Giray barely managed to save his life, [84] [79] and was humiliated, all the way to his shoes taken, leaving his brother, son, field tools, tents and personal belongings. [79] In 2013, the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences recognized that the Battle of Kinzhal Mountain with the paramount importance in the national history of Circassians, Balkarians and Ossetians. [90]

Circassian Genocide

In 1714, Peter I established a plan to occupy the Caucasus. Although he was unable to implement this plan, he laid the political and ideological foundation for the occupation to take place. Catherine II started putting this plan into action. The Russian army was deployed on the banks of the Terek River. [91]

The Russian military tried to impose authority by building a series of forts, but these forts in turn became the new targets of raids and indeed sometimes the highlanders actually captured and held the forts. [92] Under Yermolov, the Russian military began using a strategy of disproportionate retribution for raids. Russian troops retaliated by destroying villages where resistance fighters were thought to hide, as well as employing assassinations, kidnappings and the execution of whole families. [93] Because the resistance was relying on sympathetic villages for food, the Russian military also systematically destroyed crops and livestock and killed Circassian civilians. [94] [95] Circassians responded by creating a tribal federation encompassing all tribes of the area. [95] In 1840 Karl Friedrich Neumann estimated the Circassian casualties at around one and a half million. [96] Some sources state that hundreds of thousands of others died during the exodus. [97] Several historians use the phrase "Circassian massacres" [98] for the consequences of Russian actions in the region. [99]

"In a series of sweeping military campaigns lasting from 1860 to 1864. the northwest Caucasus and the Black Sea coast were virtually emptied of Muslim villagers. Columns of the displaced were marched either to the Kuban [River] plains or toward the coast for transport to the Ottoman Empire. One after another, entire Circassian tribal groups were dispersed, resettled, or killed en masse" [100]

Circassians established an assembly called "Great Freedom Assembly" in the capital city of Shashe (Sochi) on June 25, 1861. Haji Qerandiqo Berzedj was appointed as the head of the assembly. This assembly asked for help from Europe, [101] arguing that they would be forced into exile soon. However, before the result was achieved, Russian General Kolyobakin invaded Sochi and destroyed the parliament [102] and no country opposed this. [101]

In May 1864, a final battle took place between the Circassian army of 20,000 Circassian horsemen and a fully equipped Russian army of 100,000 men. [103] Circassian warriors attacked the Russian army and tried to break through the line, but most were shot down by Russian artillery and infantry. [104] The remaining fighters continued to fight as militants and were soon defeated. All 20,000 Circassian horsemen died in the war. The Russian army began celebrating victory on the corpses of Circassian soldiers, and so May 21, 1864, was officially the end of the war. The place where this war took place is known today as Krasnaya Polyana. [105] "Krasnaya Polyana" means red meadow. It takes its name from the Circassian blood flowing from the hill into the river. The river ran red for weeks after the war.

The proposal to deport the Circassians was ratified by the Russian government, and a flood of refugee movements began as Russian troops advanced in their final campaign. [106] Circassians prepared to resist and hold their last stand against Russian military advances and troops. [107] With the refusal to surrender, Circassian civilians were targeted one by one by the Russian military with thousands massacred and the Russians started to raid and burn Circassian villages, [95] destroy the fields to make it impossible to return, cut trees down and drive the people towards the Black Sea coast. It has been recorded that Russian soldiers used various methods such as tearing the belly of pregnant women and removing the baby inside to entertain themselves. Some Russian generals, such as Grigory Zass, argued that the killing of the Circassians and their use in scientific experiments should be allowed. [108]

Although it is not known exactly how many people are affected, researchers have suggested that at least 75%, 90%, [109] [110] 94%, [111] or 95% -97% [112] of the ethnic Circassian population are affected. Considering these rates, calculations including those taking into account the Russian government's own archival figures, have estimated a loss 600,000-1,500,000. Ivan Drozdov, a Russian officer who witnessed the scene at Qbaada in May 1864 as the other Russians were celebrating their victory remarked:

"On the road, our eyes were met with a staggering image: corpses of women, children, elderly persons, torn to pieces and half-eaten by dogs deportees emaciated by hunger and disease, almost too weak to move their legs, collapsing from exhaustion and becoming prey to dogs while still alive."

The Ottoman Empire regarded the Adyghe warriors as courageous and well-experienced. It encouraged them to settle in various near-border settlements of the Ottoman Empire in order to strengthen the empire's borders.

"Circassia was a small independent nation on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea. For no reason other than ethnic hatred, over the course of hundreds of raids the Russians drove the Circassians from their homeland and deported them to the Ottoman Empire. At least 600,000 people lost their lives to massacre, starvation, and the elements while hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homeland. By 1864, three-fourths of the population was annihilated, and the Circassians had become one of the first stateless peoples in modern history". [113]

As of 2020, Georgia was the only country to classify the events as genocide, while Russia actively denies the Circassian genocide, and classifies the events as a simple migration of "undeveloped barbaric peoples".

Post-exile period

The actions of the Russian military in acquiring Circassian land through expulsion and massacres [114] have given rise to a movement among descendants of the expelled ethnicities for international recognition of the perpetration of genocide. [115] On 20 May 2011 the Georgian parliament voted in a 95 to 0 declaration that Russia had committed genocide when it engaged in massacres against Circassians in the 19th century. [116]

Adyghe society prior to the Russian invasion was highly stratified. While a few tribes in the mountainous regions of Adygeya were fairly egalitarian, most were broken into strict castes. The highest was the caste of the "princes", followed by a caste of lesser nobility, and then commoners, serfs, and slaves. In the decades before Russian rule, two tribes overthrew their traditional rulers and set up democratic processes, but this social experiment was cut short by the end of Adyghe independence.


Circassians mainly speak the Circassian languages, two mutually intelligible languages of the Northwest Caucasian language family, namely Adyghe (West Circassian) and Kabardian (East Adyghe). Adyghe is based on Temirgoy (Chemirgoy) dialect, while Kabardian is based on the dialect of the same name. Circassians also speak Russian, Turkish, English, Arabic, and Hebrew in large numbers, having been exiled by Russia to lands of the Ottoman Empire, where the majority of them live today, and some to neighboring Persia, to which they came primarily through mass deportations by the Safavids and Qajars or, to a lesser extent, as muhajirs in the 19th century. [117] [118] [119] [120]

Linguists divide the Northwest Caucasian languages into three branches, namely Circassian (Adyghe and Kabardian), Ubykh (consisting only of the Ubykh language, which is considered to have diverged from the Circassian languages and is now a dead language), and Abazgi (Abkhaz and Abaza). The Ubykhs lived on the Black Sea coast, around the city of Sochi, the capital of Circassia, north of Abkhazia.

Although related, Abazgi and Circassian are mutually unintelligible. Abazgi is spoken by Abkhazians and the Abazins. The Abkhazians lived on the coast between the Circassians and the Georgians, were organized as the Principality of Abkhazia and were involved with the Georgians to some degree. The Abazins or Abaza, their relatives, lived north of the mountains and were involved with Circassia proper. They extended from the mountain crest northeast onto the steppe and partially separated the Kabardians from the rest. Sadz were either northern Abkhazian or eastern Abaza, depending on the source.

Walter Richmond writes that the Circassian languages in Russia are "gravely threatened." He argues that Russian policy of surrounding small Circassian communities with Slavic populations has created conditions where Circassian languages and nationality will disappear. By the 1990s, Russian had become the standard language for business in the Republic of Adygea, even within communities with Circassian majority populations. [121]


Ancestors of modern Adyghe people gradually went through following various religions: Ancient Polytheists Beliefs, Christianity, and then Islam. [122]

It is the tradition of the early church that Christianity made its first appearance in Circassia in the first century AD via the travels and preaching of the Apostle Andrew. [123] Subsequently, Christianity spread throughout the Caucasus between the 4th century [66] and the 6th century. [67]

A small Muslim presence in Circassia has existed since the Middle Ages, but widespread Islamization occurred after 1717, when Sultan Murad IV ordered the Crimean Khans to spread Islam among the Circassians, with the Ottomans and Crimeans seeing some success in converting members of the aristocracy who would then ultimately spread the religion to their dependents. [124] Moreover, the ever increasing threat of an invasion from Russia helped expedite the already centuries long process of gradual islamization of the region. [124] [125]

Significant Christian and pagan presence remained among some tribes such as the Shapsugs and Natukhai with Islamization pressures implemented by those loyal to the Caucasus Emirate. [126] Sufi orders including the Qadiri and Nakshbandi orders gained prominence and played a role in spreading Islam. [27]

Today, a large majority of Circassians are Muslim, with minorities of Habze, atheists [27] and Christians. [127] Atheist Circassians tend to be of the younger generation (20–35 years old), in which they were found to constitute a quarter of Circassians in Kabardino-Balkaria. [27] Among Christians, Catholicism, originally introduced along the coasts by Venetian and Genoese traders, today constitutes just under 1% of Kabardins. [128] Some Circassians are also Orthodox Christian, notably including those in Mozdok [129] and some of those Kursky district. [25] Among Muslims, Islamic observance varies widely between those who only know a few prayers with a Muslim identity that is more "cultural" than religious, to those who regularly observe all requirements. [27]

Both Islam and the Habze are identified as national characteristics even by those that do not practice. [27] Today, Islam is a central part of life in many Circassian diaspora communities, such as in Israel, while in the Circassian homeland Soviet rule saw an extensive process of secularization, and there is wide influence of many social norms which contradict Islamic law, such as widespread norms like social alcohol consumption in Israel, meanwhile, such non-Islamic social norms are not present. [127]

In the modern times, it has been reported that they identify primarily as Muslims. [130] [26] There have also been reports of violence and threats against those "reviving" and diffusing the original Circassian pre Islamic faith. [131] [132] The relationship between habze and Islam varies between Circassian communities for some, there is conflict between the two, while for others, such as in Israel, they are seen as complementary philosophies. [127]

Traditional social system

Society was organized by Adyghe khabze, or Circassian custom. [133] Many of these customs had equivalents throughout the mountains. The seemingly disorganized Circassians resisted the Russians just as effectively as the organized theocracy of Imam Shamil. The aristocracy was called warq. Some aristocratic families held the rank of Pshi or prince and the eldest member of this family was the Pshi-tkhamade who was the tribal chief. Below the warq was the large class to tfokotl, roughly yeomen or freemen, who had various duties to the warq.

They were divided into clans of some sort. Below them were three classes approximating serfs or slaves. Of course, these Circassian social terms do not exactly match their European equivalents. Since everything was a matter custom, much depended on time, place, circumstances and personality. The three 'democratic' tribes, Natukhai, Shapsug, and Abdzakh, managed their affairs by assemblies called Khase or larger ones called Zafes.

Decisions were made by general agreement and there was no formal mechanism to enforce decisions. The democratic tribes, who were perhaps the majority, lived mainly in the mountains where they were relatively protected from the Russians. They seem to have retained their aristocrats, but with diminished powers. In the remaining 'feudal' tribes power was theoretically in the hands of the Pshi-tkhamade, although his power could be limited by Khases or other influential families.

In addition to the vertical relations of class there were many horizontal relations between unrelated persons. There was a strong tradition of hospitality similar to the Greek xenia. Many houses would have a kunakskaya or guest room. The duty of a host extended even to abreks or outlaws. Two men might be sworn brothers or kunaks. There were brotherhoods of unrelated individuals called tleuzh who provided each other mutual support. It was common for a child to be raised by an atalyk or foster father. Criminal law was mainly concerned with reconciling the two parties. Adyghe khabze is sometimes called adat when it is contrasted to the kind of Islamic law advocated by people like Imam Shamil.

Traditional clothing

The traditional female clothing (Adyghe: Бзылъфыгъэ Шъуашэр, Bzıłfıǵe Ȿuaşer [bzəɬfəʁa ʂʷaːʃar] ) was very diverse and highly decorated and mainly depends on the region, class of family, occasions, and tribes. The traditional female costume is composed of a dress (Adyghe: Джанэр, Janer [d͡ʒaːnar] ), coat (Adyghe: Сае, Saye [saːja] ), shirt, pant (Adyghe: ДжэнэкӀакор, Jeneç'akuer [d͡ʒanat͡ʃʼaːkʷar] ), vest (Adyghe: КӀэкӀ, Ç'eç' [t͡ʃʼat͡ʃʼ] ), lamb leather bra (Adyghe: Шъохътан, Ȿuex́tan [ʂʷaχtaːn] ), a variety of hats (Adyghe: ПэӀохэр>, Peꜧuexer [paʔʷaxar] ), shoes, and belts (Adyghe: Бгырыпхыхэр, Bğırıpxıxer [bɣərəpxəxar] ).

Holiday dresses are made of expensive fabrics such as silk and velvet. The traditional colors of women's clothing rarely includes blue, green or bright-colored tones, instead mostly white, red, black and brown shades are worn. The Circassian dresses were embroidered with gold and silver threads. These embroideries were handmade and took time to complete as they were very intricate.

The traditional male costume (Adyghe: Адыгэ хъулъфыгъэ шъуашэр, Adığe X́uıłfıǵe Ȿuaşer [aːdəɣa χʷəɬfəʁa ʂʷaːʃar] ) includes a coat with wide sleeves, shirt, pants, a dagger, sword, and a variety of hats and shoes. Traditionally, young men in the warriors’ times wore coat with short sleeves—in order to feel more comfortable in combat. Different colors of clothing for males were strictly used to distinguish between different social classes, for example white is usually worn by princes, red by nobles, gray, brown, and black by peasants (blue, green and the other colors were rarely worn).

A compulsory item in the traditional male costume is a dagger and a sword. The traditional Adyghean sword is called shashka. It is a special kind of sabre a very sharp, single-edged, single-handed, and guardless sword. Although the sword is used by most of Russian and Ukrainian Cossacks, the typically Adyghean form of the sabre is longer than the Cossack type, and in fact the word Shashka came from the Adyghe word "Sashkhwa" (Adyghe: Сашьхъуэ, Sas̨x́ue ) which means "long knife". On the breast of the costume are long ornamental tubes or sticks, once filled with a single charge of gunpowder (called gaziri cartridges) and used to reload muskets.

Traditional cuisine

The Adyghe cuisine is rich with different dishes. [134] [135] In the summer, the traditional dishes consumed by the Adyghe people are mainly dairy products and vegetable dishes. In the winter and spring the traditional dishes are mainly flour and meat dishes. An example of the latter is known as ficcin.

Circassian cheese is considered one of the more famous types of cheeses in the North Caucasus.

A popular traditional dish is chicken or turkey with sauce, seasoned with crushed garlic and red pepper. Mutton and beef are served boiled, usually with a seasoning of sour milk with crushed garlic and salt.

Variants of pasta are found. A type of ravioli may be encountered, which is filled with potato or beef.

On holidays the Adyghe people traditionally make haliva (Adyghe: хьэлжъо, Helɀua ) (fried triangular pastries with mainly Circassian cheese or potato), from toasted millet or wheat flour in syrup, baked cakes and pies. In the Levant there is a famous Circassian dish which is called Tajen Alsharkaseiah. [136]

Traditional crafts

The Adyghes have been famous for making carpets (Adyghe: пӏуаблэхэр, P'uablexer [pʷʼaːblaxar] ) or mats worldwide for thousands of years. [ citation needed ]

Making carpets was very hard work in which collecting raw materials is restricted to a specific period within the year. The raw materials were dried, and based on the intended colours, different methods of drying were applied. For example, when dried in the shade, its [ clarification needed ] colour changed to a beautiful light gold colour. If it were dried in direct sun light then it would have a silver colour, and if they wanted to have a dark colour for the carpets, the raw materials were put in a pool of water and covered by poplar leaves (Adyghe: екӏэпцӏэ, Yeç'epc'e [jat͡ʃʼapt͡sʼa] ).

The carpets were adorned with images of birds, beloved animals (horses), and plants, and the image of the Sun was widely used.

The carpets were used for different reasons due to their characteristic resistance to humidity and cold, and in retaining heat. Also, there was a tradition in Circassian homes to have two carpets hanging in the guest room, one used to hang over rifles (Adyghe: шхончымрэ, Şxuençımre [ʃxʷant͡ʃəmra] ) and pistols (Adyghe: къэлаеымрэ, Qelayeımre ), and the other used to hang over musical instruments.

The carpets were used to pray upon, and it was necessary for every Circassian girl to make three carpets before marriage. These carpets would give the grooms an impression as to the success of their brides in their homes after marriage. [137]

From the late Middle Ages, a number of territorial- and political-based Circassian tribes or ethnic entities began to take shape. They had slightly different dialects.

Dialects came to exist after Circassia was divided into tribes after the death of Inal of Kabardia, who united Circassia for the last time before its short reunion during the Russo-Caucasian War. As the logistics between the tribes became harder, each tribe became slightly isolated from one another, thus the people living under the banner of each tribe developed their own dialects. In time, the dialects they speak were named after their tribes.

At the end of the Caucasian War most Circassians were expelled to the Ottoman Empire, and many of the tribes were destroyed and the people evicted from their historical homeland in 1864.

The twelve stars on the Circassian flag symbolize the individual tribes of the Circassians the nine stars within the arc symbolize the nine aristocratic tribes of Adygea, and the three horizontal stars symbolize the three democratic tribes. The three democratic tribes or tribes were the Natukhai, Shapsug, and Abdzakh. They managed their affairs by assemblies while the other tribes were controlled by "princes" or Pshi. The twelve tribes are the Abdzakh, Besleney, Bzhedug, Hatuqwai, Kabardian, Mamkhegh, Natukhai, Shapsug, Temirgoy, Ubykh, Yegeruqwai, and Zhaney. [138]

Adyghe tribes with remnants still in Circassia are: Kabarda (the largest), the Temirgoy and Bzhedug in Adygea, and the Shapsug near Tuapse and to the north of Tuapsiysiy Rayon of Krasnodarskiy Kray. There are also a few Besleney and Natukhai villages, and an Abdzakh village. The majority tribes in diaspora are Kabardian, Abdzakh, and Shapsug.

Twelve Circassian (Adyghe) tribes (sub-ethnic groups)
Geographical designation Main dialect Tribe [139] [140] Circassian name Notes
Adygeans (Adyghe of Adygea) Adyghe (Western Circassian) Abzakh (Abdzakh or Abadzekh [139] ) Абдзах, Abźax [aːbd͡zaːx] Second largest Adyghe tribe in Turkey and the world, largest in Jordan, sixth largest in Russia
Bzhedug (Bzhedugh or Bzhedukh [139] ) Бжъэдыгъу, Bɀedıǵu [bʐadəʁʷ] Third largest Adyghe tribe in Russia, lesser in other countries
Hatuqwai (Hatukay or Khatukai [139] ) Хьэтыкъуай, Hatıꝗuay [ħaːtəq͡χʷaːj] A warlike tribe completely expelled from the Caucasus, found almost exclusively in Turkey, US, Jordan, and Israel
Mamkhegh Мэмхэгъ, Мамхыгъ, Mamxıǵ [maːmxəʁ] a large clan, but a small tribe
Natukhai (Notkuadj [139] ) Натыхъуай, Netıx́uay [natəχʷaːj] , Наткъуадж, Netıx́uaj [natəχʷaːd͡ʒ] Completely expelled from the Caucasus after the Caucasian War
Temirgoy (Chemgui or Kemgui [139] ) КIэмгуй, Ç'emguıy [t͡ʃʼamɡʷəj] Second largest Adyghe tribe in Russia, lesser in other countries
Yegeruqwai (Yegerukay) Еджэрыкъуай, Yejerquay [jad͡ʒarqʷaːj] Completely expelled from the Caucasus
Zhaney (Jane or Zhan [139] ) Жанэ, Ƶane [ʒaːna] Not found after the Caucasian War on a tribal basis
Shapsugs (Adyghe of Krasnodar Krai) Shapsug (Shapsugh) Шэпсыгъ, Шапсыгъ, Şapsıǵ [ʃaːpsəʁ] Third largest Adyghe tribe in Turkey and the world, largest in Israel
Ubykhians (Adyghe of Krasnodar Krai) Ubykh (extinct) and Hakuchi Adyghe Ubykh Убых, Wıbıx [wəbəx] , Пэху Completely expelled from the Caucasus, found almost exclusively in Turkey where most speak East Adyghe, and some West Adyghe (often Hakuchi sub-dialect) as well as Abaza
Kabardians (Adyghe of Kabardino-Balkaria) Kabardian (Eastern Circassian) [141] Kabardians (Kabardinian, Kabardin, Kabarday, Kebertei, or Adyghe of Kabarda) Къэбэрдэй, Qeberdey [qabardaj] , Къэбэртай, Qebertay [qabartaːj] Largest Adyghe tribe in Turkey (over 2 millions), Russia (over 500,000), and the world (3–4 million), second or third largest in Jordan and Israel
Cherkessians (Cherkess or Adyghe of Karachay-Circassiania) Besleney [141] (Beslenei [139] ) Беслъэней, Basłınıy [basɬənəj]

Other Adyghe groups

Small tribes or large clans that are included in one of the twelve Adyghe tribes:

Name Circassian name Notes
Adele (Khatko) [ru] (Khetuk or Adali [139] ) ХьэтIукъу, Hat'uqu Not found after the Caucasian War on a tribal basis, included in the Abzakh and Hatuqwai tribes
Ademey [ru] (Adamei or Adamiy) Адэмый, Ademıy [aːdaməj] Included in the Kabardian tribe
Guaye [ru] (Goaye) Гъоайе, Ǵuaye Not found after the Caucasian War
Shegak [ru] (Khegaik [139] ) Хэгъуайкъу, Xeǵueyqu Not found after the Caucasian War
Chebsin [ru] (Čöbein [139] ) ЦIопсынэ, C'wapsıne Not found after the Caucasian War
Makhosh (Mequash) [ru] (Mokhosh [139] ) Махошъ, Mexuaȿ [maːxʷaʂ] A large clan, but not enough to be a separate tribe

The Circassian tribes can be grouped and compared in various ways:

  • The narrow Black Sea coast was occupied, from north to south by the Natukhai, Shapsug, and Ubykh. The main part of the Natukhai and Shapsug tribes were located in the north of the mountains. The Natukhai were enriched by trade since their coast was not backed by high mountains and opened onto the steppe.
  • The north slope was inhabited, from north to south, by the Natukhai, Shapsug, and Abdzakh. They seem to have been the most populous tribes after the Kabarda and its inland location gave then some protection from Nogai and Cossack raiding.
  • In the far west were three small tribes that were absorbed into the Natukhai and disappeared. These were the Adele ru:Адале on the Taman peninsula and the Shegak and Chebsin (ru:Хегайки and ru:Чебсин) near Anapa.
  • Along the Kuban were the Natukhai, Zhaney, Bzhedug, Hatuqwai, and Temirgoy. The tribes along the Kuban and Laba rivers were exposed to Nogai and Cossack raiding than those in the interior.
  • On the east, between the Laba and Belaya, from north to south, were the Temirgoy, Yegeruqwai (ru:Егерукаевцы), Makhosh (ru:Махошевцы), and Besleney. The Besleney were a branch of the Kabardians. Along the Belaya River were the Temirgoy, the ill-documented Ademey (ru:Адамийцы) and then the Mamkhegh near the modern Maykop.
  • The Guaye (ru:Гуайе) are poorly documented. The Tchelugay lived west of the Makhosh. The Hakuch lived on the coast south of the Natukhai. Other groups are mentioned without much documentation. There are reports of tribes migrating from one place to another, again without much documentation. Some sketch maps show a group of Karachays on the upper Laba without any explanation.
  • In the Far east the Kabarda occupied about a third of the north Caucasus piedmont from mid Circassia proper eastward to the Chechen country. To their north were the Nogai nomads and to the south, deeper in the mountains, were from west to east, the Karachays, Balkars, Ossetes, Ingushes, and Chechens. The Kabardians were fairly advanced, interacted with the Russians from the sixteenth century and were much reduced by plague in the early nineteenth century.

Much of Adyghe culture was disrupted after the conquest of their homeland by Russia in 1864. The Circassian people were subjected to ethnic cleansing and mass exile mainly to the Ottoman Empire, and to a lesser extent Qajar Iran and the Balkans. This increased the number of Circassians in the region and even created several entirely new Circassian communities in the states that got created after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. However, Adyghe have also lived outside the Caucasus region since the Middle Ages. They were particularly well represented in Turkey and Egypt.


Turkey has the largest Adyghe population in the world, around half of all Circassians live in Turkey, mainly in the provinces of Samsun and Ordu (in Northern Turkey), Kahramanmaraş (in Southern Turkey), Kayseri (in Central Turkey), Bandırma, and Düzce (in Northwest Turkey), along the shores of the Black Sea the region near the city of Ankara. All citizens of Turkey are considered Turks by the government, but it is estimated that approximately two million ethnic Circassians live in Turkey. The "Circassians" in question do not always speak the languages of their ancestors, and in some cases some of them may describe themselves as "only Turkish". The reason for this loss of identity is mostly due to Turkey's Government assimilation policies [142] [143] [144] [145] [146] [147] [148] [149] [150] [151] [152] [153] [154] and marriages with non-Circassians. Circassians are regarded by historians to play a key role in the history of Turkey. Some of the exilees and their descendants gained high positions in the Ottoman Empire. Most of the Young Turks were of Circassian origin. Until the end of the First World War, many Circassians actively served in the army. In the period after the First World War, Circassians came to the fore in Anatolia as a group of advanced armament and organizational abilities as a result of the struggle they fought with the Russian troops until they came to the Ottoman lands. However, the situation of the Ottoman Empire after the war caused them to be caught between the different balances of power between Istanbul and Ankara and even become a striking force. For this period, it is not possible to say that Circassians all acted together as in many other groups in Anatolia. The Turkish government removed 14 Circassian villages from Gönen and Manyas regions in December 1922, May and June 1923, without separating women and children, and drove them to different places in Anatolia from Konya to Sivas and Bitlis. This incident had a great impact on the assimilation of Circassians. After 1923, Circassians were restricted by policies such as the prohibition of Circassian language, [142] [145] [149] [150] [146] [155] [152] [156] [147] changing village names, and surname law [146] [147] [148] Circassians, who had many problems in maintaining their identity comfortably, were seen as a group that inevitably had to be assimilated.

Cyprus Circassians had settled n Cyprus during the Memluk period. However these were mainly members of Memluk Army and majority of them left the island during the Venetian period. Even though, Circassians have arrived to the island during the Otttoman Empire from Caucasus by ships and they settled Limasol Circassian Farm (Cerkez Ciftlik) and villages of Larnaca Arsos (Yiğitler), Vuda, Tremetousa (Erdemli), Paralimni in October, 1864. Cypriot Circassians had joined to Turkish Cypriot Community and some of them to Greek Cypriot Community. Although they lost their languages and cultures, they still express themselves as Circassian.


Circassians play a major role in the history of Syria. In Syria, they settled mainly in the Golan Heights. Prior to the Six-Day War of 1967, the Adyghe people – then estimated at 30,000 in number – were the majority group in the Golan Heights region. The most prominent settlement in the Golan was the town of Quneitra. The total number of Circassians in Syria is estimated [ by whom? ] at between 50,000 and 100,000. [157] In 2013, as tensions between the Baath government and the opposition forces escalated, Syrian Circassians said they were exploring returning to Circassia. Circassians from different parts of Syria, such as Damascus, have moved back to the Golan Heights, believed to be safer. Some refugees have been reportedly killed by shelling. Circassians have lobbied the Russian and Israeli governments to help evacuate refugees from Syria Russia has issued some visas. [158]


In Israel, the Adyghe initially settled in three places—in Kfar Kama, Rehaniya, and in the region of Hadera. Due to a malaria epidemic, the Adyghe eventually abandoned the settlement near Hadera. Though Sunni Muslim, Adyghe within Israel are seen as a loyal minority who serve in the Israeli armed forces. [159] [160] [161]


The Adyghe had a major role in the history of the Kingdom of Jordan. [162] [163] Over the years, various Adyghe have served in distinguished roles in the kingdom of Jordan. Adyghes have served as a prime minister (Sa'id al-Mufti), as ministers (commonly at least one minister should represent the Circassians in each cabinet), as high-ranking officers, etc., and due to their important role in the history of Jordan, Adyghe form the Hashemites' honour guard at the royal palaces. They represented Jordan in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2010, joining other honour guards such as the Airborne Ceremonial Unit. [164] [165] Jordanian Circassians cluster around several areas, most notably Sweileh in Amman.


During the 13th century the Mamluks seized power in Cairo. Some 15th-century Circassian converts to Islam became Mamluks and rose through the ranks of the Mamluk dynasty to high positions, some becoming sultans in Egypt such as Qaitbay, Mamluk Sultan of Egypt (1468–1496). The majority of the leaders of the Burji Mamluk dynasty in Egypt (1382–1517) had Circassian origins, [166] while also including Abkhaz, Abaza, and Georgian peoples whom the Arab sultans had recruited to serve their kingdoms as a military force. With the rise of Muhammad Ali Pasha (who ruled Egypt from 1805 to 1848), most senior Mamluks were killed by him in order to secure his rule and the remaining Mamluks fled to Sudan. [ citation needed ]

Most Circassian communities in Egypt were assimilated into the local population. [167] As of 2016 [update] several thousand Adyghe reside in Egypt in addition to the descendants of Burji Mamluks of Adyghe origin, there are many who descend from royal Circassian consorts or Ottoman pashas of Circassian origin as well as Circassian muhajirs of the 19th century. [ citation needed ]

Adyghe came to Iraq directly from Circassia. They settled in all parts of Iraq—from north to south—but most of all in Iraq's capital Baghdad. Many Adyghe also settled in Kerkuk, Diyala, Fallujah, and other places. Circassians have played major roles in different periods throughout Iraq's history, and made great contributions to political and military institutions in the country, to the Iraqi Army in particular. Several Iraqi prime ministers have been of Circassian descent.

Iran has a significant Circassian population. [168] It once had a very large community, but the vast amount were assimilated in the population in the course of centuries. [169] [170] [171] The Safavid (1501–1736) and Qajar (1789–1925) dynasties saw the importing and deporting of large numbers of Circassians to Persia, where many enjoyed prestige in the harems and in the élite armies (the so-called ghulams), while many others settled and deployed as craftsmen, labourers, farmers and regular soldiers. Many members of the Safavid nobility and élite had Circassian ancestry and Circassian dignitaries, such as the kings Abbas II of Persia (reigned 1642–1666) and Suleiman I of Persia (reigned 1666–1694). While traces of Circassian settlements in Iran have lasted into the 20th century, many of the once large Circassian minority became assimilated into the local population. [172] However, significant communities of Circassians continue to live in particular cities in Iran, [168] like Tabriz and Tehran, and in the northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran. [173] [174]

Notable places of traditional Circassian settlement in Iran include Gilan Province, Fars Province, [175] Isfahan, and Tehran (due to contemporary migration). Circassians in Iran are the nation's second largest Caucasus-derived nation after the Georgians. [168]

Rest of Western Asia

Significant communities live in Jordan, [176] Syria (see Circassians in Syria), [176] and smaller communities live in Israel (in the villages of Kfar Kama and Rehaniya—see Circassians in Israel). [176] Circassians are also present in Iraq. Baghdad, Sulaymaniyah, and Diyala comprise the country's main cities with Circassians, [177] though lesser numbers are spread in other regions and cities as well.

Rest of Europe

Out of 1,010 Circassians living in Ukraine (473 Kabardian Adyghe (Kabardin), [178] 338 Adygean Adyghe, [179] and 190 Cherkessian Adyghe (Cherkess) [180] —after the existing Soviet division of Circassians into three groups), only 181 (17.9%) declared fluency in the native language 96 (9.5%) declared Ukrainian as their native language, and 697 (69%) marked "other language" as being their native language. The major Adyghe community in Ukraine is in Odessa.

There is a small community of Circassians in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia. A number of Adyghe also settled in Bulgaria in 1864–1865 but most fled after it became separated from the Ottoman Empire in 1878. The small part of the community that settled in Kosovo (the Kosovo Adyghes) moved to the Republic of Adygea in 1998, after the reprisals of the Serbian occupation forces became heavily intensified. The majority of the community, however, remained in Kosovo where they have been well established and integrated into Kosovan society. Many members of this community can be identified as they carry the family name "Çerkezi", or "Qerkezi". This community is also well established in the Republic of North Macedonia, usually mingling with the Albanian Muslim population.

There are Circassians in Germany and a small number in the Netherlands.

North America

Numerous Circassians have also immigrated to the United States and settled in Upstate New York, California, and New Jersey. There is also a small Circassian community in Canada.

The 2014 Winter Olympics facilities in Sochi (once the Circassian capital) [181] were built in areas that were claimed to contain mass graves of Circassians who were killed during genocide by Russia in military campaigns lasting from 1860 to 1864. [182]

Adyghe organizations in Russia and the Adyghe diaspora around the world requested that construction at the site stop and that the Olympic Games not be held at the site of the Adyghe genocide, to prevent desecration of Adyghe graves. According to Iyad Youghar, who headed the lobby group International Circassian Council: "We want the athletes to know that if they compete here they will be skiing on the bones of our relatives." [181] The year 2014 also marked the 150th anniversary of the Circassian Genocide which angered the Circassians around the world. Many protests were held all over the world to stop the Sochi Olympics, but were not successful.

Circassian Prince Sefer Bey Zanuko in 1845

An Adyghe man from Kabarda tribe in regular (non-traditional) wear

A painting from 1843 of an Adyghe warrior by Sir William Allan

An Adyghe strike on a Russian Military Fort built over a Shapsugian village that aimed to free the Circassian Coast from the occupiers during the Russian-Circassian War, 22 March 1840

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I hour 53 minutes ago: Muammar Gaddafi is believed to be hiding near the western Libyan town of Ghadamis…. Hisham Buhagiar, a senior military official of Libya's new leadership, told Reuters, "One tribe, the Touareg, is still supporting him and he is believed to be in the Ghadamis area in the south.

Over the past weeks, the Tuareg (at times spelled Touareg) have appeared again and again as the most reliable allies of Gaddafi and his family, fighting against the Libyan revolution, giving their protection to him and his closest entourage as they hide deep in the Sahara, offering guides and escorts for those who have been making their way through remote corners of the desert to find sanctuary in Niger. The Tuareg know the desert as no one else can. This is what we gather from the recent news stories in which they have been appearing. A tribe of the Sahara, whose deep understanding of that fierce and mysterious landscape can offer a profound, ineffable secrecy and safety to Gaddafi himself. They are the indigenous people of a terrain in which no others could live, or even find their way – this is the quite reasonable implication of the recent news stories in which they have figured.

So we find ourselves thinking, or are invited to think: the magic of the tribal world seems to be available to the deposed tyrant. Those who follow the news but know very little of these mysterious tribesmen of the Sahara can find themselves wondering if the Tuareg are the simple, unquestioning beneficiaries of some kind of corrupt generosity, and thus deluded into saving the skins of the Gaddafis. Wondering, too, if we can forgive them for this because they are the children of the desert, the wild people of a wild place.

The images that these snippets of news from the immense and arid border between Libya, Algeria, Mali and Niger evoke, and the questions they prompt, grow from a familiar dichotomy: the simple, primitive, traditional (these all become words for the same thing) are duped, or bribed, into giving their support to the sophisticated, civilized, modern (and these are words for the opposite thing). We can see in our minds’ eyes the nomads of the desert, with their camels and skin tents, living in an ancient harmony with their arid, rather terrifying environment. And see, also, the Gaddafi gang: despots and plunderers who are now having to take their leave of the complex luxuries and brutal politics of privilege and power in an oil-rich nation state. The weather-beaten camel herders, used to a life close to the desert, living in the fascinating harmonies of indigenous peoples the Arab potentates escaping in their convoys of 4 by 4s, armed to the teeth, hauling their looted millions with them. A compelling contrast. The tribal and the civilized. A version of the nature:culture dyad, perhaps, underpinned, as it often is, with a moral opposition: a natural and aboriginal entity that we are quick to think of as inherently good alongside that which is inherently wicked.

For those who care about the tribal, who support and take inspiration from indigenous culture and ways of life, this conjunction of the Tuareg and Gaddafi is profoundly troubling. There are different sources of upset, various lines of upset questioning. Have the trusting Tuareg been tricked, bribed or blackmailed into providing their support? Or: is theirs such a naivety and lack of understanding of the wider world that Tuareg tribesmen and women just do not know when they are dealing with the devil? Or is there something about the tribal world that makes it susceptible to this kind of exploitation and possible corruption?

Questions on the margin

These are questions that come from a particular and prevalent idea of the tribal, and indeed of Gaddafi. The Tuareg may not be well known in Britain, and are little covered in the British media. In 1972, Granada TV broadcast a film in the Disappearing World series, made by Charlie Nairn with research and access provided by anthropologist Jeremy Keenan. As with all of the Disappearing World films, this went out at prime time, midweek, and was previewed and reviewed (though the academic reviews were typically belated: a short savaging of the film appeared in The America Anthropologist in March, 1974). Nairn’s film is centred on a group of Tuareg who were then living, with great difficulty, in the bleak landscape of the mountains of the Hoggar Range. And the film urged the view that this life had become impossible – so the Tuareg were indeed disappearing. An evocation of marginality, a clinging to life in hopeless defiance of the inevitable, is a tempting paradigm for any work about indigenous peoples. It plays to the drama of extremes of environment as well as extremes of human endurance. It also reiterates a commonplace about the tribal world: their knowledge, stamina and ritual life are astonishing expressions of what humanity can achieve. But there may well be a fatal, developmental destiny that is working towards their extinction.

The 1972 film was criticised for being too focused on a Tuareg community that happened to be struggling at that time in the unforgiving mountains, and not drawing attention to the many Tuareg who lived, farming as well as herding, in more fertile settings across the region. Much more recent footage of the people of the western Sahara came with the ‘Deserts’ episode of the BBC’s Human Planet series – again with the emphasis all on beautiful, exotic, extremes of hardship.

In fact, the region of the Tuareg – who speak a language that links them to the Berber of further north - is very large, reaching into the countries of the western Sahara: Algeria, Mali and Niger, as well as Libya. This wide geographical range is thus parallel to a complex set of social and political circumstances. There are indeed Tuareg families and communities that live a life of mobile pastoralism, moving with their camels and goats across the far depths of the Sahara. But there are also Tuareg living settled lives, within and as part of nation states and national politics. So the link between the fugitive and bellicose Gaddafi and “the Tuareg” leaves open an ambiguity. Tuareg leaders with whom the Gaddafis could have long and deep alliances will not necessarily be the mobile herders of the deep Sahara – though the people he and his cronies deal with as they defend their last holdouts or make their escape are likely to include the Tuareg who live deep in and know best the Sahara where Gaddafi has been thought to be hiding.

Gaddafi’s tent

Gaddafi has enjoyed playing the myth of the pastoralist nomad, insisting on his own fascinating if rather deranged portrayal of his place deep in that tribal stereotype – simple life in a tent, no definable political status in some utopia of equality, and no private wealth. His enjoyment of this myth of himself when hosting leaders from the Europe and America has been evident. Inviting Tony Blair to share his simple tent for meetings to agree that Libya was no longer a rogue state was a fine example of this myth being used to considerable effect. And Gaddafi’s recent, and perhaps last, protestations have played to the myth again: he tells the world that he has no official position, no office of any kind – suggesting again that his is the simple life of the nomad, in his tent, servant of his people, hero of his egalitarian society. In a video clip that the revolutionaries found after occupying the Gaddafi compound cum bunker in Tripoli, we can see Gaddafi in his tent, enjoying family time with a son, daughter-in-law and sweet looking grand-daughter. The way he plays with the child is compelling, though the eye is drawn to the wariness on the face of the child, the watchfulness of Gaddafi’s son and daughter-in-law. Looking beyond the people, though, it is possible to catch glimpses of the electric power points, heaters and other indications that this is not a tent of a nomad in the desert, but a comfortable, modern dwelling. There have long been Mongolian families (also with a heritage of mobile pastoralism) living in fine Yurts just outside Ulan Batur, commuting to their jobs in town, because this provides comfort as well as a sense of identity. In a similar way, Gaddafi has enjoyed a luxury tent of his own, with all modern comforts. In it, he does his best to stoke up the myth of his nomad simplicity – his claim to be on the good, desert side of both the cultural and moral dyads.

The fight for autonomy

So who are the Tuareg with whom Gaddafi may long have been in close and complex political alliance? Like those groups that choose to be known as First Nations in North America, the Tuareg have insisted that they are a people with a distinct history and territory, and therefore a right to their own lands or state. Comprising up to 10% of the populations of the countries where they find themselves, the total Tuareg population in Niger is over one million, and around 900,000 in Mali. Smaller numbers are in Algeria and Burkina Faso, while the Libyan Tuareg population may once have been small but has been increased in recent years by Gaddafi’s policy of opening Libyan borders to Tuareg refugees from other states. This large, diverse set of populations, shares a strong sense of history and, at crucial times in recent decades, of destiny. Fierce Tuareg independent movements, in effect insurrections, were launched in the 1990s in Niger and Mali. These were not the first attempts by Tuareg to achieve autonomy, and to emancipate themselves from an oppressive, subordinate relationship to the nations that took shape in the Sahara. Independence movements of various kinds are spread through the twentieth century and there is evidence of Tuareg conflict with other groups going back to their earliest appearance in the region, some thirteen hundred years ago. These are people well used to doing battle. And some of this battle has involved Libya. In the 1980s, Libyan Tuareg were involved in an armed liberation movement in the 1990s Tuareg, supported by Libya, were involved in civil war in Mali. And of special relevance here: Gaddafi’s regime espoused the cause of Tuareg at least in so far as working to ensure that Tuareg in Mali and Niger were able to reach some kind of negotiated agreement and a temporary peace.

These recurrent, bitter and often violent conflicts have shaped Tuareg modern history. The Tuareg have not succeeded in securing their own nation, or even won security within the existing nations where they have suffered discrimination and dispossession. But they did manage to sustain, and even to strengthen their economic base, especially in the 1980s and 90s, as the Sahara opened to outsiders, launching tourism. By the beginning of the new century, the Tuareg were a tribal group with many national identities, at risk in some areas, suffering the impacts of drought and political oppression, and, in the remoter parts of the Sahara, along the Libyan-Niger border, having a degree of autonomy. And with strong links to the Gaddafi regime – from which support had come in their struggles against the Niger and Mali governments, as well as some direct aid, thanks to Libyan oil money, to towns where Tuareg were living in extremes of poverty.

Then came 9/11

Then came 9/11 and the global war on terror. This was to change life in the Sahara, and is the new, crucial background to the Tuareg-Gaddafi alliance.

Jeremy Keenan, the anthropologist whose work lay behind the 1972 Disappearing World Tuareg film, has been setting out in fascinating deal, on the basis of long and intimate knowledge of the region, the way that the new politics has threatened to engulf and transform Tuareg life. In his book The Dark Sahara and much other writing and broadcasting, Keenan has described the way Algeria managed to nurture a myth of Al Qaeda and Taliban incursions into the Sahara, encouraging the idea that once established there, Islamic terrorists would be better placed to launch their murderous attacks on Europe. The advantage of this notion to Algeria lay in its leading to a strong military alliance with the USA – getting arms for its own struggle against internal opposition, and drawing the Americans into a militarization of the Sahara. Keenan shows how this resulted in the Tuareg being labeled as key supporters of Al Qaeda, making them enemies of everyone else and ensuring that they would have an even weaker basis for seeking any form of autonomy or redress for the wrongs they had suffered in Algeria, Niger or Mali. And causing a collapse in the tourist economy in the region, on which many if not most Tuareg were dependent.

This double assault meant that Tuareg families and whole communities found themselves impoverished and at the same time under new kinds of attack. Keenan says that there is strong evidence that different kinds of agents provocateurs, initiated and supported by different governments, ensured that the Tuareg were drawn into conflict. Thus lies about the Tuareg could be deemed to be at the heart of the ‘terrorism’ of the Sahara. Thus aid and arms would flow from the USA and its apparently unlimited budgets for the war on terror, to Algeria, Niger, Mali…. the very nations that had for so long done battle against the aspirations and rights of the Tuareg.

This destructive process spiraled into increasing frustration, rage and violence. Between 2004 and 2008, Tuareg were involved in a succession of riots and armed insurrections in Mali and Niger. Keenan has stated that these were in large measure prompted and manipulated by both national governments and US agents. Keenan also insists, on the basis of a lifetime of working with Tuareg and being in the Sahara throughout the crucial period, that the Tuareg have had no organized links to Al Qaeda. Yet the Tuareg were also having to cope with, and of course were protesting against, the way their resources were being alienated or down-graded by the new politics at work in their lands.

Hundreds of Tuareg were killed in this period large numbers of Tuareg animals were destroyed – many by the Niger military. The anti Al-Qaeda measures included great restriction of Tuareg mobility – causing further economic difficulties to families dependent on nomadic pastoralism. The total collapse of tourism alone meant that something like 70 million US dollars went out of the local, especially Tuareg, economies.

Some of the consequences of this new set of assaults on Tuareg life are not hard to imagine. Stigmatized and treated as terrorist allies of Al Qaeda, supporters of imagined Taliban refugees from Afghanistan, implicated in dramatic kidnappings, drawn into putative civil wars, suffering new levels of poverty – there were sure to be some who would take whatever opportunities the new circumstances offered, be it to make money or to express anger. There was also a new level of demand for specialised skills: navigating, driving, finding hiding places – tasks called for by that militarization and new intrusions onto the Sahara, and tasks at which the Tuareg could excel.


It is not hard to see how the Gaddafi regime might have fitted into all this. The one thing Tripoli could offer was cash, as well as some appealing ideological and political rhetoric. Buying allegiance has always been the basis of the Gaddafi internal politics denouncing the Americans was a core of his public rhetoric. Confusing as it may be that Gaddafi also bought allegiance within Niger and Burkina Faso, he built up a well funded link to Tuareg – offering many kinds of support to a people who were in dire need of friends and cash.

Libya’s involvement in the Tuareg struggles through the 80s and 90s, its shift to a pro-western, anti-Islamacist position after 9/11, the last ditch battle of the past weeks – through all this Gaddafi has been able to look to overlapping interests with the Tuareg. In 2005, Libya offered residency to all Tuareg who were refugees from their wars with Niger and Mali. Thousands of Tuareg relocated to Libya, finding work in the oil and gas sector. A year later, Gaddafi invited the Tuareg to be an important part of an anti-terrorist and anti-drug-smuggling coalition in the Sahara.

This has been a realpolitik on both sides, a drama played out over many acts and a vast terrain. It has also been a matter of simple economic opportunity: as part of his dealings with Tuareg, Gaddafi’s regime offered young men $1,000 per month to join the Libyan army – pay of about twenty times their more normal earnings. It is not surprising that many of those Tuareg Gaddafi has supported in their desperate struggles against the forces of history have come to help their long-term ally and benefactor in his own final scenes. On September 23, a news story appeared covering a warning that the Tuareg had apparently issued to Mali: “if you interfere with Gaddafi we will overthrow your government”. They are also said to have added a declaration, reminding everyone that they are, “the lords of the desert”. Here are the two aspects of the liaison, as it is now represented by the Tuareg.

Bitter ironies

There are ironies and paradoxes to all this, some of them bitter. This is often the case with the circumstances of tribal peoples. Exploited and dispossessed by those with national or imperial powers, coping with all kinds of environmental loss – from industrial development to climate change ­– they have to find alliances where they can. In the tortured misrepresentations and distorted realities of the global war against terror as it has played out in the Sahara, the Tuareg were threatened by renewed efforts on the part of old enemies as well as a whole new kind of enemy. Well used to fighting for their rights, familiar with warfare as well as the secret trails of the Sahara, they could at least look to Gaddafi and his cash as far as they could see, no one else had taken care to protect their rights or listen to their protests against new and brutal attacks on them. No one else had taken any interest in offering them sanctuary or, most important of all, earnings.

Perhaps they have been manipulated by Libya, or deceived into believing that their real interests are close to Gaddafi’s heart. So they fight on the wrong side? For the Tuareg, all sides have no doubt seemed to be indifferent to their losses. They can hardly look to the NATO bombs or the revolutionaries liberating Libya for a new, unprecedented sympathy. For the victims of state violence and international disregard, for peoples who have been exploited and misrepresented to serve the interests of whoever came along, there is sure to be both opportunism and the honouring of the Gaddafis – the ones who have given them some kind of help in the past.

There is a passage at the end of a piece Jeremy Keenan wrote for Al Jazeera in which he gives an overview of the way the Tuareg became caught in the lies and distortions that the new geopolitics caused to spread into the Sahara:

‘Marginalised by their governments ignored by the international community and deprived by the Global War on Terror of their livelihoods, but still skilled fighters, the question now being asked is whether the Tuareg…will attempt to take matters into their own hands’.

This was written before the Gaddafi regime was destroyed, but it speaks to the apparent enigma of the strange and disturbing alliance between him and the Tuareg at the margins of Libya and, now, at the centre of Gaddafi’s chances of coming out alive.

The tribal appears, almost by definition, to be at the very edges of our world - marginal and increasingly irrelevant. Looking closer, however, we again and again find that, in their remarkable way, Tribes reveal what is happening at the centre.

Thus have the Tuareg come to be at the centre of Libyan events, for which many of them may find themselves paying a dreadful price. They have had few friends, and may now have increased the animosity of their old enemies. The Libyans who are taking over their country need to find the fullest and most intelligent understanding of the history that has shaped the lives and decisions of the Tuareg. They must bring the Tuareg a new justice rather than yet another level of retribution.


While the name is generally applied to the limestone uplands of northwestern Clare, and adjacent lowlands, and generally excludes the area of Clare shales to the southwest, the exact extent of the area is not clearly defined, and geologically it does extend into County Galway to both the north and northeast (see Geology below). The southeastern pocket of Co. Galway around Kinvara is usually included, and is the base for many Burren organisations. The Burren is certainly bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and by Galway Bay, with the Aran Islands representing a geological extension of the limestone hills that make up most of The Burren. [3] : 5

According to one definition, the Burren extends south to a line from the coastal resort of Lahinch to Corofin and is delimited in the east by a line roughly from Kinvara to Kilmacduagh monastery, near Gort. Note that taken literally, this would includes places like the town of Ennistymon and the Cliffs of Moher, which would more commonly be considered as neighbouring the Burren. [3] : 5 In another definition, the "Burren Programme" defines the region as extending well into the Gort plain, encompassing inter alia Coole Park and the turloughs around it, while to the south it would extend to Ruan and Crusheen, and in the southwest to the edge of Doolin, as well as the routine Lisdoonvarna, Kilfenora and Corofin. [4]

Thus the stated size of the Burren varies between around 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi) (the core area of exposed limestone), through 360 square kilometres (140 sq mi) (taking in all limestone landscapes) and 560 square kilometers (including the about 200 square kilometres (77 sq mi) of downland), depending on the approach taken. Roughly 60% of the uplands show exposed limestone pavement. [5] [3] : 5,16,33

The Burren has an unusually temperate climate for western Ireland. Average air temperatures range from 15 °C (59 °F) in July to 4–6 °C (39–43 °F) in January, while the soil temperature does not usually drop below 6 °C (as an exception, in late 2010, there was a prolonged period of snow). Since grass will grow once the temperature rises above 6 °C, this means that The Burren (like the neighbouring Aran Islands) has one of the longest growing seasons in Ireland or Britain, and supports diverse and rich plant growth. [6]

The area has around 1,525 millimetres (60.0 in) of annual rainfall (more than twice the amount observed in eastern Ireland), [3] : 33 with an average level of over 160 millimetres (6.3 in) monthly from October to January [6]

Late May is the sunniest time, [7] and also a good time to view flowers, with the gentians and avens peaking (but orchid species blooming later). [ citation needed ]

During counter-guerrilla operations in The Burren in 1651–52, Edmund Ludlow stated, "(Burren) is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him. and yet their cattle are very fat for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing." [2] [3]

Stratigraphy Edit

The area is formed from a thick succession of sedimentary rocks, largely limestones but also including sandstones, mudstones and siltstones. All of the solid rocks exposed at the surface are of Carboniferous age though they are underlain at depth by Old Red Sandstone of Devonian age which in turn overlies rocks of Lower Palaeozoic age. None of the pre-Carboniferous rocks is seen at the surface in the area. [8] The limestones, which date from the Visean stage of the early Carboniferous, formed as sediments in a tropical sea approximately 325 million years ago. The strata contain fossil corals, crinoids, sea urchins and ammonites. This bed of limestone is up to 800 metres thick. In the north and west it lies on a shelf of Galway granite which supported the upper layers, preventing shifts like those that created the "twisted" hills Knockanes and Mullaghmore. The limestone also extends below Galway Bay out to the Aran Islands and to the east into the Gort plain. [3] : 16,33

Later in the Carboniferous (c. 318 million years ago), the limestone was covered by darker sand and mud that later turned into shale (the lower "Clare Shales") and sandstone (the upper "Millstone Grit"). These layers reached a thickness of up to 330 metres (1,080 ft) in north Clare. These top layers protected the underlying limestone from erosion for millions of years before being largely stripped away by glaciers, except in the south west, where they still extend from Doolin to Slieve Elva, Lisdoonvarna, Kilfenora and to the western shore of Lake Inchiquin. One "island" of shale is the hill Poulacapple, southwest of Ballyvaughan, where an upland moor has formed on top of the impermeable shale layers. [3] : 16,33 [9] : 17

The local geological succession comprises the following formations some of which are subdivided into various members. The youngest rocks are at the start of the list, the oldest at the bottom. The first three listed are of Namurian age and are a mix of mudstones, sandstones and siltstones, the remainder are Visean age limestones.

  • Central Clare Group
  • Gull Island Formation
  • Clare Shale Formation
  • Slievenaglasha Formation
    • Lissylisheen Member
    • Ballyelly Member
    • Fahee North Member
    • Balliny Member
    • Ailwee Member
    • Maumcaha Member
    • Hawkhill Member
    • Fanore Member
    • Black Head Member
    • Finavarra Member
    • Castlequarter Member
    • Newtown Member
    • Fiddaun Member
    • Cregmahon Member [8]

    Quaternary Edit

    Glaciation during the late Quaternary period (beginning c. one million years ago) facilitated greater denudation. Glaciers expanded and retreated over the region several times. Of the last two periods the first was the more pronounced, covering the whole of the Burren. The last advance of the ice cover was more limited, affecting only the eastern Burren. [9] : 20–1

    The result is that The Burren is one of the finest examples of glacio-karst landscape in the world. The effects of the last glacial period (the Midlandian) are most in evidence, with The Burren overrun by ice during this glaciation. [1] The impact of earlier karstification (solutional erosion) has been eliminated by the last glacial period. So any surface karstification now seen dates from approximately 10,000 years ago and The Burren karst is thus very recent in geological terms.

    Solutional processes have widened and deepened the grikes of the limestone pavement. Pre-existing lines of weakness in the rock (vertical joints) contribute to the formation of extensive fissures separated by clints (flat pavement like slabs). The rock karstification facilitates the formation of subterranean drainage. This has formed numerous cave systems of which more than 50 kilometers have been mapped. [3] : 33 The most accessible of these is Aillwee Cave.

    Due to the processes mentioned, there are very few permanent surface rivers in the region. The Caher, flowing into the sea at Fanore, is one of the most stable. [3] : 33 Some of the large valleys, mostly running south to north, that are still visible today are in fact the remains of pre-glacial river valleys. The rivers disappeared from the surface when the upper layers of stone had been stripped away.

    Another characteristic features of The Burren are closed roughly circular depressions with no surface outlets for water (called polje). Around 100 of these exist, mostly present in the eastern Burren. The most notable are the valleys of Kilcorney, Poulawilan, Caherconnel and Carran, generally stretching from northeast to southwest. The largest is the Carran depression, more than two miles long, up to a mile wide and over 200 feet deep. This is where the pre-glacial rivers of the area first eroded away the upper layers and started to dissolve the exposed limestone. Some of the smaller ones were created when caves underneath collapsed (one example of this is the Glen of Clab). [9] : 19–20

    Glaciers also deposited numerous granite and limestone erratics on the pavements. The former were carried south across Galway Bay by the second-to-last glaciation. Granite boulders can be found mostly in the north of the Burren. The final ice cover came from the northeast and mostly deposited limestone erratics. On Slieve Elva these are visible today at elevations of up to 300 metres (980 ft) mabove sea level. The characteristic terracing of the hills occurred when vertical joints weathered and large blocks of limestone fell off and were further eroded away. [3] : 33 [9] : 16,21

    Towards the very end of the Ice Age the glaciers ended for a time at Fanore. At that time, Slieve Elva and Knockauns hill alone rose above the surrounding ice fields. The valleys facing Galway Bay had been widened considerably by glacial action, first when the ice moved south from Connemara and then when meltwater sought a runoff. When the ice finally retreated it also left moraines in valley bottoms and the characteristic drumlins (most of them on top of the shale and sandstone to the south). The Caher Valley was almost choked up by deposited sand and rocks and these also piled up against the western slopes of Slieve Elva. It was this protective layer of sediment that has made surface streams locally possible once more. [9] : 21

    Today, the uplands' highest point is on the hill Slieve Elva, whose shale cover rises up to 345 metres (1,132 ft) above sea level. [10] : 47

    In addition to the limestone pavement, major landscape types, providing the habitats for the flora and fauna, include limestone heath, dry calcareous grasslands, calcareous (calcifying or petrifying) springs, the intermittent water bodies called turloughs, bogs, cladium fens, lakes, wet grasslands, scrub and light woodland, and neutral, and farm-improved, grasslands. [11]


    The origin and the meaning of the name Tuareg have long been debated, with various etymologies hypothesized. It would appear that Twārəg is derived from the broken plural of Tārgi, a name whose former meaning was "inhabitant of Targa", the Tuareg name of the Libyan region commonly known as Fezzan. Targa in Berber means "(drainage) channel". [15] Another theory is that Tuareg is derived from Tuwariq, the plural of the Arabic exonym Tariqi. [6]

    The term for a Tuareg man is Amajagh (variants: Amashegh, Amahagh), the term for a woman Tamajaq (variants: Tamasheq, Tamahaq, Timajaghen). Spellings of the appellation vary by Tuareg dialect. However, they all reflect the same linguistic root, expressing the notion of "freemen". As such, the endonym strictly refers only to the Tuareg nobility, not the artisanal client castes and the slaves. [16] Two other Tuareg self-designations are Kel Tamasheq (Neo-Tifinagh: Kel Tamasheq), meaning "speakers of Tamasheq", and Kel Tagelmust, meaning "veiled people" in allusion to the tagelmust garment that is traditionally worn by Tuareg men. [6]

    The English exonym "Blue People" is similarly derived from the indigo color of the tagelmust veils and other clothing, which sometimes stains the skin underneath giving it a blueish tint. [17] Another term for the Tuareg is Imuhagh or Imushagh, a cognate to the northern Berber self-name Imazighen. [18]

    The Tuareg today inhabit a vast area in the Sahara, stretching from far southwestern Libya to southern Algeria, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. [6] Their combined population in these territories exceeds 2.5 million, with an estimated population in Niger of around 2 million (11% of inhabitants) and in Mali of another 0.5 million (3% of inhabitants). [1] [19]

    The Tuareg are also the majority ethnic group in the Kidal Region of northeastern Mali. [20]

    The Tuareg traditionally speak the Tuareg languages, also known as Tamasheq, Tamachen, Tamashekin, Tomacheck and Kidal. [21] These tongues belong to the Berber branch of the Afroasiatic family. [8] According to Ethnologue, there are an estimated 1.2 million Tuareg speakers. Around half this number consists of speakers of the Eastern dialect (Tamajaq, Tawallammat). [8] The exact number of Tuareg speakers per territory is uncertain. The CIA estimates that the Tuareg population in Mali constitutes approximately 0.9% of the national population (

    150,000), whereas about 3.5% of local inhabitants speak Tuareg (Tamacheq) as a primary language. [22] In contrast, Imperato (2008) estimates that the Tuareg represent around 3% of Mali's population. [19]

    Early history Edit

    In antiquity, the Tuareg moved southward from the Tafilalt region into the Sahel under the Tuareg founding queen Tin Hinan, who is believed to have lived between the 4th and 5th century. [23] The matriarch's 1,500-year-old monumental Tin Hinan tomb is located in the Sahara at Abalessa in the Hoggar Mountains of southern Algeria. Vestiges of an inscription in Tifinagh, the Tuareg's traditional Libyco-Berber writing script, have been found on one of the ancient sepulchre's walls. [24]

    External accounts of interaction with the Tuareg are available from at least the 10th century. Ibn Hawkal (10th century), El-Bekri (11th century), Edrisi (12th century), Ibn Batutah (14th century), and Leo Africanus (16th century), all documented the Tuareg in some form, usually as Mulatthamin or "the veiled ones." Of the early historians, fourteenth century scholar, Ibn Khaldûn probably has some of the most detailed commentary on the life and people of the Sahara, though he apparently never actually met them. [25]

    Colonial era Edit

    At the turn of the 19th century, the Tuareg territory was organised into confederations, each ruled by a supreme Chief (Amenokal), along with a council of elders from each tribe. These confederations were sometimes called "Drum Groups" after the Amenokal's symbol of authority, a drum. Clan (Tewsit) elders, called Imegharan (wisemen), were chosen to assist the chief of the confederation. Historically, there have been seven major confederations. [26]

    • Kel Ajjer or Azjar: centre is the oasis of Aghat (Ghat).
    • Kel Ahaggar, in Ahaggar mountains.
    • Kel Adagh, or Kel Assuk: Kidal, and Tin Buktu
    • IwillimmidanKel Ataram, or Western Iwillimmidan: Ménaka, and Azawagh region (Mali)
    • IwillimmidanKel Denneg, or Eastern Iwillimmidan: Tchin-Tabaraden, Abalagh, Teliya Azawagh (Niger).
    • Kel Ayr: Assodé, Agadez, In Gal, Timia and Ifrwan.
    • Kel Gres: Zinder and Tanut (Tanout) and south into northern Nigeria.
    • Kel Owey: Aïr Massif, seasonally south to Tessaoua (Niger)

    In the mid-19th century descriptions of the Tuareg and their way of life were made by the English traveller James Richardson in his journeys across the Libyan Sahara in 1845-1846. [27]

    In the late 19th century, the Tuareg resisted the French colonial invasion of their Central Saharan homelands and annihilated a French expedition led by Paul Flatters in 1881. However, in the long run Tuareg broadswords were no match for the more advanced weapons of French troops. After numerous massacres on both sides, [28] the Tuareg were subdued and required to sign treaties in Mali 1905 and Niger 1917. In southern Morocco and Algeria, the French met some of the strongest resistance from the Ahaggar Tuareg. Their Amenokal, traditional chief Moussa ag Amastan, fought numerous battles in defence of the region. Finally, Tuareg territories were taken under French governance.

    French colonial administration of the Tuareg was largely based on supporting the existing social hierarchy. The French came to the conclusion that Tuareg rebellions were largely the result of the implementation of policies that undermined the authority of traditional chiefs. The French wished to create a protectorate operating, ideally, through single chieftains. It was proposed that French support for the chieftains would result in them becoming loyal adherents of the colonial authority, and the authority would interact with the Tuareg only through the chieftains. One of the consequences of this policy was that the French authorities did little or nothing to improve the status of the servile portion of Tuareg society, believing that the noble caste, on whom their policy relied, would not survive without slaves. [29]

    Post-colonial era Edit

    When African countries achieved widespread independence in the 1960s, the traditional Tuareg territory was divided among a number of modern states: Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso. Competition for resources in the Sahel has since led to conflicts between the Tuareg and neighboring African groups, especially after political disruption following French colonization and independence. There have been tight restrictions placed on nomadization because of high population growth. Desertification is exacerbated by human activity i.e. exploitation of resources and the increased firewood needs of growing cities. Some Tuareg are therefore experimenting with farming some have been forced to abandon herding and seek jobs in towns and cities. [30]

    In Mali, a Tuareg uprising resurfaced in the Adrar N'Fughas mountains in the 1960s, following Mali's independence. Several Tuareg joined, including some from the Adrar des Iforas in northeastern Mali. The 1960s' rebellion was a fight between a group of Tuareg and the newly independent state of Mali. The Malian Army suppressed the revolt. Resentment among the Tuareg fueled the second uprising. [30]

    This second (or third) uprising was in May 1990. At this time, in the aftermath of a clash between government soldiers and Tuareg outside a prison in Tchin-Tabaraden, Niger, Tuareg in both Mali and Niger claimed autonomy for their traditional homeland: (Ténéré, capital Agadez, in Niger and the Azawad and Kidal regions of Mali). Deadly clashes between Tuareg fighters (with leaders such as Mano Dayak) and the military of both countries followed, with deaths numbering well into the thousands. Negotiations initiated by France and Algeria led to peace agreements (11 January 1992 in Mali and 1995 in Niger). Both agreements called for decentralization of national power and guaranteed the integration of Tuareg resistance fighters into the countries' respective national armies. [31]

    Major fighting between the Tuareg resistance and government security forces ended after the 1995 and 1996 agreements. As of 2004, sporadic fighting continued in Niger between government forces and Tuareg groups struggling for independence. In 2007, a new surge in violence occurred. [32]

    Since the development of Berberism in North Africa in the 1990s, there has also been a Tuareg ethnic revival. [33]

    Since 1998, three different flags have been designed to represent the Tuareg. [34] In Niger, the Tuareg people remain diplomatically and economically marginalized, remaining poor and not being represented in Niger's central government. [35]

    The Tuareg traditionally adhered to the Berber mythology. Archaeological excavations of prehistoric tombs in the Maghreb have yielded skeletal remains that were painted with ochre. Although this ritual practice was known to the Iberomaurusians, the custom seems instead to have been primarily derived from the ensuing Capsian culture. [36] Megalithic tombs, such as the jedar sepulchres, were also erected for religious and funerary purposes. In 1926, one such tomb was discovered south of Casablanca. The monument was engraved with funerary inscriptions in the ancient Libyco-Berber writing script known as Tifinagh, which the Tuareg still use. [37]

    During the medieval period, the Tuareg adopted Islam after its arrival with the Umayyad Caliphate in the 7th century. [12] In the 16th century, under the tutelage of El Maghili, [38] the Tuareg embraced the Maliki school of the Sunni, which they now primarily follow. [39] The Tuareg helped spread Islam further into the Western Sudan. [40] While Islam is the religion of the contemporary Tuareg, historical documents suggest that they initially resisted the Islamization efforts in their traditional strongholds. [41] [42] According to the anthropologist Susan Rasmussen, after the Tuareg had adopted the religion, they were reputedly lax in their prayers and observances of other Muslim precepts. They have also retained elements of pre-Islamic cosmology and rituals, particularly Tuareg women. For example, Tuareg religious ceremonies contain allusions to matrilineal spirits, as well as to fertility, menstruation, the earth and ancestresses. [11] Norris (1976) suggests that this apparent syncretism may stem from the influence of Sufi Muslim preachers on the Tuareg. [12]

    The Tuaregs have been one of the influential ethnic groups who have helped spread Islam and its legacy in North Africa and the adjacent Sahel region. [12] Timbuktu, an important Islamic center famed for its ulama, was established by Imasheghen Tuareg at the start of the 12th century. [43] It flourished under the protection and rule of a Tuareg confederation. [44] [45] In 1449, a Tuareg ruling house also founded the Tenere Sultanate of Aïr (Sultanate of Agadez) in the city of Agadez in the Aïr Mountains. [18] 18th century Tuareg Islamic scholars, such as Jibril ibn 'Umar, later preached the value of revolutionary jihad. Inspired by these teachings, Ibn 'Umar's student Usman dan Fodio would go on to lead the Fulani jihads and establish the Sokoto Caliphate. [46]

    The Tuareg society has traditionally featured clan membership, social status and caste hierarchies within each political confederation. [9]

    Clans Edit

    Clans have been a historic part of the Tuaregs. The 7th century invasion of North Africa from the Middle East triggered an extensive migration of Tuaregs such as the Lemta and the Zarawa, along with other fellow pastoral Berbers. [11] Further invasions of Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym Arab tribes into Tuareg regions in the 11th century moved the Tuareg southward into seven clans, which the oral tradition of Tuaregs claims to be descendants of the same mother. [11] [47]

    Each Tuareg clan (tawshet) is made up of family groups constituting a tribe, [13] each led by its chief, the amghar. A series of tawsheten (plural of tawshet) may bond together under an Amenokal, forming a Kel clan confederation. Tuareg self-identification is related only to their specific Kel, which means "those of". For example, Kel Dinnig (those of the east), Kel Ataram (those of the west). The position of amghar is hereditary through a matrilineal principle, it is usual for the son of a sister of the incumbent chieftain to succeed to his position. The amenokal is elected in a ritual which differs between groups, the individual amghar who lead the clans making up the confederation usually have the deciding voice. [48] The matrilineal inheritance and mythology among Tuareg clans, states Susan Rasmussen, is a cultural vestige from the pre-Islamic era of the Tuareg society. [11]

    According to Rasmussen, Tuareg society exhibits a blend of pre-Islamic and Islamic practices. [11] As such, patrilineal Muslim values are believed to have been superimposed upon the Tuareg's traditional matrilineal society. Other, apparently newer customs include the practice of close-cousin endogamous marriages and polygyny in conformity with Islamic tenets. Polygyny, which has been witnessed among Tuareg chiefs and Islamic scholars, is in turn thought to be contrary to the pre-Islamic monogamous tradition of the nomadic Tuareg. [11]

    Social stratification Edit

    Tuareg society has featured caste hierarchies within each clan and political confederation. [9] [13] [14] These hierarchical systems have included nobles, clerics, craftsmen and unfree strata of people including widespread slavery. [49] [50]

    Nobility, vassals and clerics Edit

    Traditionally, Tuareg society is hierarchical, with nobility and vassals. The linguist Karl-Gottfried Prasse (1995) indicates that the nobles constitute the highest caste. [51] They are known in the Tuareg language as imúšaɣ (approximately pronounced 'imohar' – also known as Imajaghan, "the proud and free"). [9] The nobles originally had a monopoly on carrying arms and owning camels, and were the warriors of the Tuareg regions. [52] They may have achieved their social status by subjugating other Tuareg castes, keeping arms to defend their properties and vassals. They have also collected tribute from their vassals. This warrior nobility has traditionally married within their caste, not to individuals in strata below their own. [52] A collection of tribes, each led by a noble, forms a confederation called amanokal, whose chieftain is elected from among the nobles by the tribal chiefs. [53] [50] The chieftain is the overlord during times of war, and receives tribute and taxes from tribes as a sign of their submission to his authority. [54]

    The vassal-herdsmen are the second free stratum within Tuareg society, occupying a position just below that of the nobles. [55] They are known as ímɣad (Imghad, singular Amghid) in the Tuareg language. [50] Although the vassals were also free, they did not own camels but instead kept donkeys and herds of goats, sheep and oxen. They pastured and tended their own herds as well those owned by the nobles of the confederation. [55] The vassal strata have traditionally paid an annual tiwse, or tribute to the nobles as a part of their status obligations, and also hosted any noble who was traveling through their territory. [56] In the late Medieval era, states Prasse, the previously existing weapon monopoly of the nobility broke down after regional wars took a heavy toll on the noble warrior strata, and thereafter the vassals carried weapons as well and were recruited as warriors. [56] After the start of the French colonial rule, which deprived the nobles of their powers over war and taxation, the Tuaregs belonging to the noble strata disdained tending cattle and tilling the land, seeking instead soldiering or intellectual work. [56]

    A semi-noble stratum of the Tuareg people has been the endogamous religious clerics, the marabouts (Tuareg: Ineslemen, a loan word that means Muslim in Arabic). [56] After the adoption of Islam, they became integral to the Tuareg social structure. [57] According to Norris (1976), this stratum of Muslim clerics has been a sacerdotal caste, which propagated Islam in North Africa and the Sahel between the 7th and the 17th centuries. [12] Adherence to the faith was initially centered around this caste, but later spread to the wider Tuareg community. [58] The marabouts have traditionally been the judges (qadi) and religious leaders (imam) of a Tuareg community. [56]

    Castes Edit

    According to the anthropologist Jeffrey Heath, Tuareg artisans belong to separate endogamous castes known as the Inhædˤæn (Inadan). [50] [59] These have included the blacksmith, jewelers, wood workers and leather artisan castes. [50] They produced and repaired the saddles, tools, household items and other items for the Tuareg community. In Niger and Mali, where the largest Tuareg populations are found, the artisan castes were attached as clients to a family of nobles or vassals, and carried messages over distances for their patron family. They also are the ones who traditionally sacrifice animals during Islamic festivals. [59]

    These social strata, like caste systems found in many parts of West Africa, included singers, musicians and story tellers of the Tuareg, who kept their oral traditions. [60] They are called Agguta by Tuareg, have been called upon to sing during ceremonies such as weddings or funerals. [61] The origins of the artisanal castes are unclear. One theory posits a Jewish derivation, a proposal that Prasse calls "a much vexed question". [59] Their association with fire, iron and precious metals and their reputation for being cunning tradesmen has led others to treat them with a mix of admiration and distrust. [59]

    According to Rasmussen, the Tuareg castes are not only hierarchical, as each caste differs in mutual perception, food and eating behaviors. For example, she relates an explanation by a smith on why there is endogamy among Tuareg castes in Niger. The smith explained, "nobles are like rice, smiths are like millet, slaves are like corn". [62]

    In the Tuareg areas of Algeria, a distinct tenant-peasant stratum lives around oases known as izeggaghan (or hartani in Arabic). [63] Traditionally, these local peasants were subservient to the warrior nobles who owned the oasis and the land. The peasants tilled these fields, whose output they gave to the nobles after keeping a fifth part of the produce. [63] Their Tuareg patrons were usually responsible for supplying agricultural tools, seed and clothing. The peasants' origins are also unclear. One theory postulates that they are descendants of ancient people who lived in the Sahara before they were dominated by invading groups. Some speak a Songhay dialect along with Tuareg and Arabic. In contemporary times, these peasant strata have blended in with freed black slaves and farm arable lands together. [63]

    Slaves Edit

    The Tuareg confederations acquired slaves as well as tribute paying states by conducting raids on communities to their south in West Africa. [9] They also secured captives as war booty or purchased slaves in markets. [65] The slaves or servile communities are locally called Ikelan (or Iklan, Eklan), and slavery was inherited, with the descendants of the slaves known as irewelen. [9] [59]

    According to the ethnographer Johannes Nicolaisen (1963), the Ikelan are of assimilated Nilotic origin rather than of Berber heritage like the ethnic Tuareg. They often live in communities separated from other castes. The Ikelan's Nilotic extraction is denoted via the Ahaggar Berber word Ibenheren (sing. Ébenher), which alludes to slaves that only speak a Nilo-Saharan language. The slaves of the Tuareg were generally of Sub-Saharan African heritage (Nilo-Saharan or Niger-Congo ethno-linguistic origins) and were captured during raids. [66]

    The word ikelan itself means "to be black", [67] an allusion to most of the slaves. [65] In the post-colonial literature, the alternate terms for Ikelan include "Bellah-iklan" or just "Bellah" derived from a Songhay word. [64] [68]

    According to the historian Starratt (1981), the Tuareg evolved a system of slavery that was highly differentiated. They established strata among their slaves, which determined rules as to the slave's expected behavior, marriageability, inheritance rights if any, and occupation. [69] The Ikelan later became a bonded caste within Tuareg society, and they now speak the same Tamasheq language as the Tuareg nobles and share many customs. [66] According to Heath, the Bella in the Tuareg society were the slave caste whose occupation was rearing and herding livestock such as sheep and goats. [50]

    When French colonial governments were established, they stopped acquisition of new slaves and slave trading in markets, but they did not remove or free domestic slaves from the Tuareg owners who had acquired their slaves before the French rule started. [70] [71] In the Tuareg society, like with many other ethnic groups in West Africa, slave status was inherited, and the upper strata used slave children for domestic work, at camps and as a dowry gift of servants to the newlyweds. [72] [73] [74]

    According to Bernus (1972), Brusberg (1985) and Mortimore (1972), French colonial interests in the Tuareg region were primarily economic, with no intention of ending the slave-owning institution. [75] The historian Klein (1998) states instead that, although French colonial rule indeed did not end domestic slavery within Tuareg society, the French reportedly attempted to impress upon the nobles the equality of the Imrad and Bella and to encourage the slaves to claim their rights. [76] He suggests that there was a large scale attempt by French West African authorities to liberate slaves and other bonded castes in Tuareg areas following the 1914–1916 Firouan revolt. [77] Despite this, French officials following the Second World War reported that there were some 50,000 "Bella" under direct control of Tuareg masters in the Gao–Timbuktu areas of French Soudan alone. [78] This was at least four decades after French declarations of mass freedom had happened in other areas of the colony.

    In 1946, a series of mass desertions of Tuareg slaves and bonded communities began in Nioro and later in Menaka, quickly spreading along the Niger River valley. [79] In the first decade of the 20th century, French administrators in southern Tuareg areas of the French Sudan estimated that "free" to "servile" groups within Tuareg society existed at ratios of 1 to 8 or 9. [80] At the same time, the servile "rimaibe" population of the Masina Fulbe, roughly equivalent to the Bella, constituted between 70% to 80% of the Fulbe population, while servile Songhay groups around Gao made up some 2/3 to 3/4 of the total Songhay population. [80] Klein concludes that approximately 50% of the population of French Soudan at the beginning of the 20th century was in some servile or slave relationship. [80]

    While post-independence states have sought to outlaw slavery, results have been mixed. Certain Tuareg communities still uphold the institution. [81] Traditional caste relationships have continued in many places, including slaveholding. [82] [83] In Niger, where the practice of slavery was outlawed in 2003, according to the ABC News, almost 8% of the population are still enslaved. [84] The Washington Post reported that many slaves held by the Tuareg in Mali were liberated during 2013-14 when French troops intervened on behalf of the Malian government against Islamic radicals allied to the Tuareg. [85] [86]

    Chronology Edit

    The Tuareg social stratification involving noble, clerical and artisanal castes likely emerged after the 10th century, as a corollary of the rising slavery system. [87] Similar caste institutions are found among various other communities in Africa. [88] According to the anthropologist Tal Tamari, linguistic evidence suggests that the Tuareg blacksmith and bard endogamous castes evolved under foreign contact with Sudanic peoples since the Tuareg terms for blacksmith and bard are of non-Berber origin. [89] Correspondingly, the designation for the endogamous blacksmiths among the southern Tuareg is gargassa (a cognate of the Songhay garaasa and Fulani garkasaa6e), whereas it is enaden among the northern Tuareg (meaning "the other"). [90]

    Archaeological work by Rod McIntosh and Susan Keech McIntosh indicates that long-distance trade and specialized economies existed in the Western Sudan at an early date. During the 9th and 10th centuries, Berbers and Arabs built upon these pre-existing trade routes and quickly developed trans-Saharan and sub-Saharan transport networks. The successive local Muslim kingdoms developed increasing sophistication as states, their martial capacity, slave raiding, holding and trading systems. Among these Islamic states were the Ghana Empire (11th century), the Mali Empire (13th and 14th centuries), and the Songhay Empire (16th century). [87] Slavery created a template for servile relationships, which developed into more complex castes and social stratification. [91]

    Tuareg culture is largely matrilineal. [92] [93] [94] Tuareg women have high status compared with their Arab counterparts (see matrilineality). Other distinctive aspects of Tuareg culture include clothing, food, language, religion, arts, astronomy, nomadic architecture, traditional weapons, music, films, games, and economic activities.

    Clothing Edit

    In Tuareg society women do not traditionally wear the veil, whereas men do. [92] [94] The most famous Tuareg symbol is the tagelmust (also called éghéwed and, in Arabic, litham), sometimes referred to as a cheche (pronounced "shesh"), a combined turban and veil, often indigo-blue colored. The men's facial covering originates from the belief that such action wards off evil spirits. It may have related instrumentally from the need for protection from the harsh desert sands as well. It is a firmly established tradition, as is the wearing of amulets containing sacred objects and, recently, verses from the Qur'an. Taking on the veil is associated with the rite of passage to manhood men begin wearing a veil when they reach maturity. The veil usually conceals their face, excluding their eyes and the top of the nose.

    • tagelmust: turban – men
    • bukar: black cotton turban – men
    • tasuwart: women's veil
    • takatkat: shirt – women and men
    • takarbast: short shirt – women and men
    • akarbey: pants worn by men
    • afetek: loose shirt worn by women
    • afer: women's pagne
    • tari: large black pagne for winter season
    • bernuz: long woolen cloth for winter
    • akhebay: loose bright green or blue cloth for women
    • ighateman: shoes
    • iragazan: red leather sandals
    • ibuzagan: leather shoes

    The Tuareg are sometimes called the "Blue People" because the indigo pigment in the cloth of their traditional robes and turbans stained their skin dark blue. [17] The traditional indigo turban is still preferred for celebrations, and generally Tuareg wear clothing and turbans in a variety of colors.

    Food Edit

    Taguella is a flatbread made from wheat flour and cooked on a charcoal fire the flat disk-shaped bread is buried under the hot sand. The bread is broken into small pieces and eaten with a meat sauce. Millet porridge called a cink or a liwa is a staple much like ugali and fufu. Millet is boiled with water to make a pap and eaten with milk or a heavy sauce. Common dairy foods are goat's and camel's milk called akh, as well as cheese ta komart and Tona a thick yogurt made from them. Eghajira is a beverage drunk with a ladle. It is made by pounding millet, goat cheese, dates, milk and sugar and is served on festivals.

    A popular tea called "atai" or "ashahi" is made from Gunpowder Green Tea mixed with sugar. After steeping, it is poured three times in and out of the teapot over the tea, mint and sugar and served by pouring from a height of over a foot into small tea glasses with a froth on top.

    Language Edit

    The Tuareg natively speak the Tuareg languages. A dialect cluster, it belongs to the Berber branch of the Afroasiatic family. [95] Tuareg is known as Tamasheq by western Tuareg in Mali, as Tamahaq among Algerian and Libyan Tuareg, and as Tamajeq in the Azawagh and Aïr regions of Niger.

    French missionary Charles de Foucauld compiled a dictionary of the Tuareg. [96]

    Arts Edit

    Much Tuareg art is in the form of jewelry, leather and metal saddle decorations called trik, and finely crafted swords. The Inadan community makes traditional handicrafts. Among their products are tanaghilt or zakkat (the 'Agadez Cross' or 'Croix d'Agadez') the Tuareg sword (Takoba), many gold and silver-made necklaces called 'Takaza' and earrings called 'Tizabaten'. Pilgrimage boxes have intricate iron and brass decorations, and are used for carrying items.

    Astronomy Edit

    The clear desert skies allowed the Tuareg to be keen observers. Tuareg celestial objects include:

    • Azzag Willi (Venus), which indicates the time for milking the goats
    • Shet Ahad (Pleiades), the seven sisters of the night
    • Amanar (Orion), the warrior of the desert
    • Talemt (Ursa Major), the she-camel wakes up
    • Awara (Ursa Minor), the baby camel goes to sleep

    Nomadic architecture Edit

    While living quarters are progressively changing to adapt to a more sedentary lifestyle, Tuareg groups are well known for their nomadic architecture (tents). There are several documented styles, some covered with animal skin, some with mats. The style tends to vary by location or subgroup. [97] The tent is traditionally constructed for the first time during the marriage ceremony and is considered an extension of the union, to the extent that the phrase "making a tent" is a metaphor for becoming married. [98] Because the tent is considered to be under the ownership of a married woman, sedentary dwellings generally belong to men, reflecting a patriarchal shift in power dynamics. Current documentation suggests a negotiation of common practice in which a woman's tent is set up in the courtyard of her husband's house. [99] It has been suggested that the traditional tent construction and arrangement of living space within it represent a microcosm of the greater world as an aide in the organization of lived experiences [98] so much so that movement away from the tent can cause changes in character for both men and women as its stabilizing force becomes faint. [100]

    An old legend says the Tuareg once lived in grottoes, akazam, and they lived in foliage beds on the top acacia trees, tasagesaget. Other kinds of traditional housing include: [ citation needed ] ahaket (Tuareg goatskin red tent), tafala (a shade made of millet sticks), akarban also called takabart (temporary hut for winter), ategham (summer hut), taghazamt (adobe house for long stay), and ahaket (a dome-shaped house made of mats for the dry season and square shaped roof with holes to prevent hot air). [ citation needed ]

    Traditional weapons Edit

    • takoba: 1 meter long straight sword
    • sheru: long dagger
    • tellak: short dagger kept in a sheath attached to the left forearm.
    • allagh: 2 meter long lance
    • tagheda: small and sharp assegai
    • taganze: leather covered-wooden bow
    • amur: wooden arrow
    • taburek: wooden stick
    • alakkud or abartak: riding crop
    • agher: 1.50 meter high shield

    In 2007, Stanford's Cantor Arts Center opened an exhibition, "Art of Being Tuareg: Sahara Nomads in a Modern World", the first such exhibit in the United States. It was curated by Tom Seligman, director of the center. He had first spent time with the Tuareg in 1971 when he traveled through the Sahara after serving in the Peace Corps. The exhibition included crafted and adorned functional objects such as camel saddles, tents, bags, swords, amulets, cushions, dresses, earrings, spoons and drums. [101] The exhibition also was shown at the University of California, Los Angeles Fowler Museum in Los Angeles and the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.

    Throughout history, the Tuareg were renowned and respected warriors. Their decline as a military might came with the introduction of firearms, weapons which the Tuareg did not possess. The Tuareg warrior equipment consisted of a takoba (sword), allagh (lance) and aghar (shield) made of antelope hide. [ citation needed ]

    Music Edit

    Traditional Tuareg music has two major components: the monochord violin anzad played often during night parties and a small tambour covered with goatskin called tende, performed during camel and horse races, and other festivities. Traditional songs called Asak and Tisiway (poems) are sung by women and men during feasts and social occasions. Another popular Tuareg musical genre is Takamba, characteristic for its Afro percussions.

    The Seven Daughters Of Atlas

    The seven daughters of Atlas play a very singular role in Greek mythology. They are of little importance in themselves. What matters most is what they represent: an indication that I will call historical. Atlas, son of Poseidon, personifies Atlantis whose name is derived from his. Thus his daughters are the heirs of Atlantis. And the Greek myth says they went to the stars …

    At the dawn of our history, in a very short time and in different parts of the world, appeared agriculture. Shortly after, without past, without history, unprecedented, appeared some developed civilizations such as Sumer, the Cities of the Andes, and many others.

    These astonishing facts do not surprise the main stream archaeologists. But many sincere seekers wonder about. Who helped the first civilizations to start? Some will say, “Developed beings from elsewhere.” Aliens. Others will add that these aliens have been transforming this planet for a long, long time. But this is another story…

    What Alien Ancestors?

    The myth of a global civilization destroyed by a cataclysm is present on all continents. On this side of the world, we evoke Atlantis, continent engulfed by the flood, was the home of a hyper-developed civilization. It had spread over several continents by establishing settlement’s colonies. Would the seven daughters of Atlas be these first civilizations, coming out of nothingness like a devil out of his box? It is still necessary to admit the existence of Atlantis elsewhere that in the Dialogues of Plato …

    Atlas is the son of God Poseidon, the Titan who founded Atlantis. Titans are giant gods. We have seen that the Titan Atlas carried the Earth on his back, which means that thanks to gravitology, the Atlanteans were able to straighten Earth’s axis. But that is not all. The mythology says that Atlas had seven daughters, the Pleiades. By spinning the metaphor, Atlas’ seven daughters could well be seven settlements founded by the survivors of Atlantis, to repopulate the Earth after the flood.

    Six Atlantis’ Heirs

    Will Hart, US journalist and filmmaker, listed the six points of the globe where appeared developed civilizations: the Olmecs in Mexico, the Chavins in Peru, Sumer and Mesopotamia, the pre-dynastic Egypt, Rama’s empire in India, and the Xias in China. Six orphans, the track is promising. And if William Hart had listed the first six daughters of Atlas? Then the last heir of Atlantis, where do we have to search it? Fascinating enigma… From America until China, the Atlantean civilization was global:

    The last Atlantean colony could be hidden anywhere.

    Each of the advanced civilizations listed by Will Hart presents the same enigma, we do not know where it came from. The flood rises a time barrier, impassable for most of the researchers, because destructive of a maximum of remnants. But we just have to apply the same criteria to all the civilizations recently discovered, in the seabed around the globe, among others. Let us explore these tracks in search of the last heir of Atlantis.

    Where Is The Seventh?

    Could it be Anatolia, in Derinkuyu, Göbekli Tepe or Çatal Hüyük, which probably date from before the last ice age? Could it be Iraq, in the ancient kingdom of Babel, where flying machines were still working in 2000 BC, respected as gifts from ‘what is above’?

    Could it be Dogger Bank, under the North Sea, where a sophisticated civilization would have disappeared at the dawn of the world? Could it be Scandinavia, among the peoples of Odin and Thor, coming also from the same pre-flood tradition?

    Could it be pre-Celtic Ireland, where the hero Cuchulainn reminds well of the Maya blond god Kukulkan? Could it be Korea, where some megaliths strangely evoke the menhirs, the stone circles, the burial mounds and the dolmens of the western Tuatha? Could it be the empire of Mu, among the builders of the megalithic statues of Easter Island, or among those of the temple-town of Yonaguni, Japan? Could it be the old Tibet of the magicians Böns, guardians of the underworld of Agartha?

    Could it be beneath the sands of Gobi Desert, where a legend claims that very long time ago a divine civilization lived? Could it be under the ice of Antarctica, the sixth continent, from which old maps show the outline of the coasts, which are supposed to have been under the ice for hundreds of thousands of years? Could it be beneath the sands of the Sahara, where the Berber tradition locates Atlantis? Or on the Gold Coast, the refined culture of Yorubas, which also arose without past among the hunters-gatherers?

    As we can see, the problem is not the scarcity of tracks, but their large number. The lost civilizations are more numerous than the pebbles on the shore. The forgotten worlds are piled up on each other, but we keep thinking the same thing. Every remain, every inscription, every engulfed ruin must be Atlantis. The seventh daughter of Atlas is a myth, maybe the most beautiful of all. “We only lend to rich people” as the saying goes. At the infinite vertigo of a trundle past, so many cities lie forever without hero, without memory,

    Undoubtedly, we are not the first.

    If it is established for any mythologist that our civilization is his heir, all the developed civilizations before the flood should not be assimilated to the Atlantean empire. As its name suggests, Atlantis was Atlantic. So this is first on the shores of this vast ocean that we must seek the seven daughters of Atlas, the seven heirs of Atlantis. In America, we have the Olmecs or Toromagen of Mesoamerica and the Andean Chavins.

    In Europe, we have the Tuatha and the Etruscans. In Africa, we have the Yoruba country and the pre-dynastic Egypt. And finally in Asia, we have Sumer. Without leaving the Atlanto-Mediterranean basin we have seven very credible candidates, seven highly ancient civilizations without known history, seven heirs of the two main religions of Atlantis, that of the One, very close to the Dravidian Shivaism, and that of the Eternal Trinity, that of Ram or Rama, who left from Atlantis to conquer India.

    The religion of the Trinity is common to the Celts who heritated it from the Tuatha, to the Egyptians who heritated it from the Atlanteans, to the Hebrews who heritated it from Babylon, to the Yorubas who heritated it from the Olmecs and to the Romans who heritated it from the Etruscans. Where would we be without the legacy of the former gods? And how dare we even pretend that Atlantis is a hazy myth, while everything shows us the existence of an advanced civilization, in all respects conform to the description of Plato?

    Realm of the ring lords

    From the earliest of Sumerian and Scythian times, over 5,000 years ago, the abiding symbol of wholeness, unity and eternity was the Ring. In those days, the kings-of-kings were also styled Ring Lords by virtue of their Rings of office which symbolised divinely inspired justice. They were golden circlets which, as time progressed, were often worn as head-bands - ultimately to become crowns.

    As depicted in numerous reliefs, the Ring was a primary device of the Anunnaki gods, who were recorded as having descended into ancient Sumer and were responsible for the establishment of municipal government and kingly practice. In view of this, it is of particular relevance that, when the author J.R.R. Tolkien was asked, in the 1960s, about the Middle-earth environment of his book trilogy The Lord of the Rings, he said that he perceived its setting to relate to about 4000 BC.

    Tolkien was an Oxford professor of Anglo-Saxon language and, in this regard, the root of his popular tale was extracted directly from Saxon folklore. Indeed, the early Saxon god Wotan (Odin) was said to have ruled the Nine Worlds of the Rings - having the ninth (the One Ring) to govern eight others.

    As the generations passed from those ancient times, the ideal of dynastic kingship spread through the Mediterranean lands into the Balkans, the Black Sea regions and Europe. But, in the course of this, the crucial essence of the old wisdom was diluted and this gave rise to dynasties that were not of the original kingly race. Instead, many were unrelated warrior chiefs who gained their thrones by might of the sword.

    The oldest complete version of the Ring Cycle comes from the Norse mythology of the Volsunga Saga. Compiled from more than forty separate legends, this Icelandic tale relates to the god Odin, to the kingdom of the Nine Worlds and to a dark forest called Mirkwood - a name later repeated by Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings. It tells of how Prince Sigmund of the Volsung dynasty is the only warrior able to pull the great sword of Odin from a tree in which the god had driven it to its hilt - as replicated in the Arthurian story of the sword and the stone. Additionally, we learn of the water-dwarf Andarvi, whose magical One Ring of red-gold could weave great wealth and power for its master - precisely as depicted in all related Ring legends.

    Contemporary with the Volsunga Saga was a similar tale which appeared in and around Burgundy in the 1200s: a German epic called The Nibelungenlied. In this account, which follows a similar path, the hero is called Siegfried and the tale is given a knightly gloss of the Gothic era, while unfortunately losing some of the pagan enchantment of the Northern legend.

    In ancient Sumer, the Anunnaki were said to have governed by way of a Grand Assembly of nine Councillors who sat at Nippur. The nine consisted of eight members (seven males and a female), who held the Rings of divine justice, along with their president, Anu, who held the One Ring to bind them all. This conforms precisely with the nine kingdoms of the Volsunga Saga, which cites Odin as the ultimate presidential Ring Lord.

    In recent times there have been some astonishing archaeological discoveries which now prove that Sumerian was not the first written language as is commonly portrayed. Also that the Sumerian culture (generally held to be the earliest cradle of civilization) had an older origin in the Balkans, specifically in Transylvania and the Carpathian regions.

    The earliest type of Mesopotamian writing, which preceded the strictly wedge-shaped Sumerian cuneiform, is known to be a little over 5,500 years old. It was found at Uruk in Sumer and at Jemdat Nasr, between Baghdad and Babylon, where the Oxford Assyriologist, Stephen Langdon, made numerous important discoveries in 1925. But, around thirty years ago a more significant find was subsequently made beneath the ancient village of Tartaria in Romania. Here were found clay tablets inscribed with a form of script which Carbon-14 dating and strata positioning have revealed to be more than 1,000 years older than the earliest Sumerian writings.

    That was not the only surprise, however, for the Tartarian symbols were practically identical to those which emerged later in Mesopotamia. - and it was discovered that the very name of Ur (the capital of Sumer) came from the Scythian word Ur, meaning Lord. Not only that, but the name of Enki is clearly defined on one tablet in an identical form to that subsequently used in Sumer. Hence, it became very apparent that the Anunnaki culture was far more widespread than had previously been thought.

    Another significant discovery was made high in the Altai Mountains between Siberia and Mongolia. There, preserved by the severe cold since the distant BC years, was found a Scythian burial mound, where the bodies of ancient chieftains, together with their horses, clothing and possessions had all been remarkably preserved from decay.

    These were the people who, in the Black Sea steppe lands, first domesticated the horse in about 4000 BC. Consequently, the extent of their travels through the centuries and their influence on the various indigenous cultures is most impressive.

    It ranges geographically from Hungary and Romania, north into the Russian steppes and Siberia, eastwards across the Ukraine and Anatolia (modern Turkey), south into Syria and Mesopotamia, and still further east into Mongolia, Tibet and the Chinese border country.

    Digging first commenced at the Altai site in 1927, but it was not until 1947 that the richest mound containing six separate tombs was discovered and the various bodies found. They were preserved not only by the extreme cold of the region, but also by skilled embalming. There was hair on their heads, but their brains had been removed, along with other internal organs (just as in Egyptian mummification).

    Some way south of the Altai site, in the northern foothills of the Himalayas, are the centres of Hami, Loulan and Churchen. It was close to these places, nestling in the Tarim Basin below Mongolia, to the north of Tibet, that a number of similar discoveries were made as recently as 1994. Unlike the intensely cold climate of the Altai Mountains, this lower region of the Central Asian desert is quite different, as a result of which the bodies were preserved in the perfectly dry air, coupled with moisture-absorbing salt beds and, again, expert mummification.

    Dated at around 4,000 years old, these interred men, women and children have undermined all the established history teaching of the area, which previously stated that no one of their type arrived there until about 120 BC. But there they were from 2,000 years earlier at the time of Abraham, when Egyptian pharaohs such as Tutankhamun and Ramesses the Great were more than 500 years into the future. These mummies, although contemporary with the mummies of ancient Egypt, are actually far better preserved.

    Like their Romanian counterparts, the Himalayan mummies are of impressive stock, with light skin, auburn hair and pale eyes. The leather and woollen clad men stood at least 6-feet, 6-inches and upwards, while even the women were over 6-feet tall. Undoubtedly, these forebears of the Gaelic High Kings were among the most formidable warriors of their time, and their use of finely woven tartan cloth serves as identifiable proof of the plaid designs which they eventually brought into Ireland and Scotland.

    From the 1st century, the Ring Lord culture fell into decline when various Roman emperors decreed that the Messianic heirs (the descendants of Jesus and his family) should be hunted down and put to the sword. This fact was recorded by eminent chroniclers such as Hegesippus, Africanus and Eusebius. Then, once the Roman Church was operative from the 4th century, the sacred dynasty was forever damned by the bishops.

    It was this formal damnation which led to such events as the Albigensian Crusade in 1209 and the subsequent Catholic Inquisitions - for these brutal assaults by the papal machine were specifically directed against the upholders and champions of the original concept of Grail kingship, as against the style of pseudo-monarchy which had been implemented by the Bishops of Rome.

    In practical terms, Church kingship has prevailed from the 8th century and has continued, through the ages, to the present day. But the fact is that, under strict terms of sovereign practice, all such monarchies and their affiliated governments have been invalid.

    Church kingship is precisely that with which we have become so familiar. It applies to all monarchs who achieve their regnal positions by way of Church coronation by the Pope or other Christian leader (in Britain, by the Archbishop of Canterbury). Previously, in terms of true kingship, there was no necessity for coronation because kingly and queenly inheritance were always regarded as being 'in the blood'.

    The change was made possible by way of a text called the Donation of Constantine - a document which led to just about every social injustice that has since been experienced in the Christian world. When the Donation made its first appearance in 751, it was alleged to have been written by Emperor Constantine some 400 years earlier, although strangely never produced in the interim. It was even dated and carried his supposed signature. What the document proclaimed was that the Emperor's appointed Pope was Christ's personally elected representative on Earth. He had the power to 'create' kings as his subordinates since his palace ranked above all the palaces in the world.

    The provisions of the Donation were enacted by the Vatican, whereupon the Merovingian Kings of the Grail bloodline in Gaul were deposed and a whole new puppet-dynasty was supplemented by way of a family of hitherto mayors. They were dubbed Carolingians and their only king of any significance was the legendary Charlemagne. By way of this strategy, the whole nature of monarchy changed from being an office of community guardianship to one of absolute rule and, by virtue of this monumental change, the long-standing code of princely service was forsaken as European kings became servants of the Church instead of being servants of the people.

    The fact is, however, that over 500 years ago in the Renaissance era, proof emerged that the Donation was an outright forgery. Its New Testament references relate to the Latin Vulgate Bible - an edition translated and compiled by St. Jerome, who was not born until AD 340, some 26 years after Constantine supposedly signed the document! Apart from that, the language of the Donation, with its numerous anachronisms in form and content, is that of the 8th century and bears no relation to the writing style of Constantine's day. But the truly ridiculous aspect is that the Donation's overwhelming dictate, which cemented the Pope as the supreme spiritual and temporal head of Christendom, has prevailed regardless.

    Victimized prior to the formal Church Inquisition in the Middle Ages were the Cathars of the Languedoc region in the South of France. The Cathars were fully conversant with the Ring Lord culture and, in accordance with tradition, referred to the Messianic bloodline as the Elven Race, venerating them as the Shining Ones.
    In the language of old Provence, a female elf was an 'albi', and Albi was the name given to the main Cathar centre in Languedoc. This was in deference to the matrilinear heritage of the Grail dynasty, for the Cathars were supporters of the Albi-gens - the elven bloodline which had descended through the Grail queens such as Lilith, Miriam, Bathsheba and Mary Magdalene. It was for this reason that, when Simon de Montfort and the armies of Pope Innocent III decimated the region from 1209, it was called the Albigensian Crusade.

    The concept of calling the original princely race the Shining Ones, while also defining them as 'elves', dates well back into ancient Bible times and can be traced into Mesopotamia and Palestine. The ancient word El, which was used to identify a god or lofty-one (as in El Elyon and El Shaddai) actually meant Shining in old Mesopotamian Sumer. To the north in Babylonia, the derivative Ellu meant Shining One, while in Saxony and Britain it became Elf.

    The concept of fairies was born directly from the Ring Lord culture and, deriving from the Greek word 'phare', the term related to a Great House, from which also stemmed the designation 'pharaoh'. In the Gaelic world, certain royal families were said to carry the fairy blood - that is to say, the fate or destiny of the Grail bloodline and of humankind at large. Meanwhile, the elf-maidens of the Albi-gens were the designated guardians of the earth, starlight and forest. It is for these reasons that fairies and elves have so often been portrayed as shoemakers and lamplighters, for the fairy cobblers made the shoes which measured the steps of life, while the Shining Ones of the elven race were there to light the way.

    In national terms (although fairies present a widespread image), they are particularly associated with Ireland, where they are epitomized by the ancient people of the Tuatha Dé Danann. This formidable king tribe was, nevertheless, mythologized by the Christian monks, who rewrote the majority of Irish history to suit their own Church's vested interest in Ireland.

    From a base of the monastic texts, which arose onwards from medieval times, it is generally stated that the Tuatha Dé Danann were the supernatural tribe of the agricultural goddess Danaë of Argos, but their true name (rendered in its older form) was Tuadhe d'Anu - the people (or tribe) of Anu, the great sky god of the Anunnaki.

    Onwards from the year 751, the Church sought all possible measures to diminish the status of any royal strain emanating from the original Ring Lords so that the fraudulent Donation of Constantine could be brought into play. Henceforth, only the subjugative Church could determine who was a king, while the elves and fairies of the Albi-gens were manoeuvred from the forefront of history into a realm of apparent fantasy and legend.

    Settling in Ireland from about 800 BC, the noble Tuadhe d'Anu hailed from the Central European lands of Scythia, which stretched from the Carpathian mountains and Transylvanian Alps, across to the Russian River Don. They were strictly known as the Royal Scyths and they were said to be the masters of a transcendent intellect called the Sidhé, which was known to the druids as the Web of the Wise.
    As the Church rose to power, so the underground stream, which supported the Ring Lord culture, found strategic methods of preserving the traditions of the royal bloodline. In the course of this, the fairy tale concept was born - stories which were not unlike many of the parables inherent in the New Testament Gospels. They were likewise contrived 'for those with ears to hear', while others among the uninitiated would perceive them as no more than fanciful entertainment.

    A focal message built into these fairy tales was an understanding of the importance of perpetuating the family line, regardless of the power of the bishops and the Church's puppet kings. The whole scenario was presented, time after time, as if it were a struggling nightmare, wherein the female (the elf-maiden who carried the essence of the strain) was out of reach of the prince, so that his torturous quest to find her was akin to the quest for the Holy Grail itself.

    Consequently, many of the tales which emanated from this base were stories of lost brides and usurped kingship, based upon the Church's subjugation of the Grail bloodline. The fairy tale ideal was essentially geared to relate the truth of these persecutions. They were allegorical accounts of the predicament of the Messianic family, whose fairies and elves (having been manoeuvred from the mortal plane of orthodoxy and status quo) were confined to a contrived otherworldly existence.

    They emerged as tales of valiant princes who were turned into frogs of swan knights who roamed the wasteland, and of Grail princesses locked in towers, or put to sleep for hundreds of years. In the course of their persecution, the elf-maidens were pricked with bodkins, fed with poisoned apples, subjected to spells or condemned to servitude, while their champions swam great lakes, battled through thickets and scaled mighty towers to secure and protect the matrilinear heritage of the Albi-gens.

    These romantic legends include such well-known stories as the Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel. In all cases, the underlying theme is the same, with the princess kept (through drugging, imprisonment or some form of restraint) out of reach of the prince, who has to find her and release her in order to preserve the dynasty and perpetuate the line.

    It was during the period of France's Carolingian dynasty that the seeds of most of these popular stories were planted, and it is because of the inherent truths which lie behind the stories that we find them so naturally appealing. Some academics argue that fairy tales survive because they are often based upon a rags-to-riches doctrine, but this is not the case. They survive because deep within our psyche is an inherent, inbred awareness that the Grail (symbolised by the Lost Bride) has to be found if the wasteland is to return to fertility.

    A primary feature of the traditional folklore related to the Ring and Grail quests is that it embodies a nominal terminology that was historically applicable to the Messianic dynasts. As cited, the terms fairy and elf each related to certain castes within the succession of the Shining Ones. But there were others - notably the pixies - who were of the utmost importance within the overall structure of the princely bloodline. Having the same Sidhé heritage as the historical elves and fairies, their familiar name derived from the description Pict-sidhé. In time, following their migration into Anjou, Ireland and the far North of Britain, they became better known, the Picts. They called their northern domain 'Caledonia' - the land of the Caille Daouine forest people.

    The social structures of the Scythian Ring Lord were firmly centred upon designated seats of assembly which became known as Fairy Rings. These royal seats (from Scythia to Ireland) were known as Raths, which denoted round or circular constructions. On that account, the Round Table of Arthurian romance was designed to symbolize this concept. What is generally not recognized, however, is that (just like the Volsunga Saga and the Nibelungenlied) the Arthurian mythos is itself a very powerful Ring Cycle. The true legacy of the Round table lies not in the Table itself, but in the knights who sat at the table - for these noble emissaries represented the most important aspect of ancient lore by presenting themselves as a living, iron-clad Ring. In accordance with traditional Ring lore, the land fell into waste and chaos when the power of the Ring was usurped by virtue of Queen Guinevere being unfaithful to Arthur with Lancelot.

    From around 1800 BC, the Kassites of Babylonia were predominant in the Rath culture. They gained their name from the word 'kassi', which meant 'place of wood' - the place in question being a sacred mound dwelling, variantly called a 'caddi'. By virtue of this, the Kassites were designated Wood Lords.

    Following their time in Babylonia, they moved across Syria and Phoenicia into Europe and, eventually, to Britain where they established many great kingdoms within which the remnant of their name survived - the Welsh King Cadwallan, for example, and the earlier British King Casswallan, who reigned at about the time of Herod the Great. In each of these names the 'wallan' aspect is important since it was also the distinction of a Wood Lord - again with Mesopotamian roots. The original Wallans were called Yulannu, and it was from their ancient tradition that the winter solstice Yuletide festival derived before moving into Scandinavia.
    Apart from the fairies, pixies and elves of history, there are others of the Shining Ones who are also said to inhabit the magical Land of Elphame they are the sprites, goblins, gnomes and leprechauns.

    The definition 'sprite' means no more nor less than a spirit person - one of the transcendental realm of the Sidhé. The original sprites were the ancient Scythian ghost warriors, who painted their bodies grey-blue to look like corpses when they entered the battlefield.

    The 'goblin' description stems from the Germanic word kobelin, which denoted a mine-worker or one who worked underground. In the context of the Ring culture, goblins and gnomes were attendants of the Raths, wherein they were custodians of the wealth and wisdom of the ages, being essentially treasurers and archivists. It was their role as guardians of the treasures which led to their nominal distinction being used in association with banking, as in the Gnomes of Zurich. The word root is in the Greek equivalent of 'g-n-o', from which we derive gnosis (knowledge).

    As for the 'leprechauns', they were the armoured horse troops of the Pict-sidhé. Their body armour was made from small overlapped plates of bronze, which tarnished to a greenish colour so they looked like lizards or dragons. In this regard, they were called 'lepra-corpan' (scaly body), a word corrupted in Ireland to leprechaun.

    The Catholic Inquisition, although ostensibly set against heretics, managed to include all manner of groups and factions within this overall classification. Witchcraft was a common accusation, and into this particular net fell the gypsies. Any person with no fixed place of residence was regarded with suspicion because an itinerant lifestyle was perceived as a means by which to evade Church authority.

    The main premise of Christianity was the promise of salvation as achieved through subservience to the bishops, aligned with the perpetuation of a serene afterlife in a heavenly environment. But how could the alternative notion of Hell be portrayed on Earth in a manner which would scare the life out of tentative believers or reluctant worshippers? Somehow Hell had to be given an earthly form, and what better than the notion of dead people who could not complete their dying because they were so hideously unclean - people who were, in fact, 'undead'. Such people, said the churchmen, had to roam the mortal world like lost souls with no dimension of life or death to call their own.

    The concept was good enough in part, but it was really no more scary than the idea of ghosts with a physical form. Something else was needed these beings had to become predators in order to make people fearful enough to lean wholly upon the Church for deliverance. So, what would all people, rich and poor alike, fear to lose the most if they were seeking salvation for their souls?

    The answer to this question was found in the Bible - to be precise, in the Old Testament book of Leviticus, which states: "It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul". It was therefore decided that the undead creatures would be said to prey upon people's blood, thereby divesting them of the route to atonement.

    A problem to overcome in this regard was the fact that this Leviticus statement was part of a very ancient Hebrew law and had little or nothing to do with Christianity. But a way was soon found to cope with the anomaly when the Church ruled that every good Christian who partook of the Communion wine was figuratively drinking the blood of Christ. This divine blood then became a part of his or her own body and any creature which then extracted blood from such a person was reckoned to be stealing the blood of Christ!

    These bloodthirsty revenants could only be repelled, it was decreed, by such devices as holy water and the crucifix. And so the Church introduced a truly fearsome creature into its subjugative mythology. They were classified as vampires - a word which derived from the old Scythian title for a kingly overlord of the Rath - a Lord of the Rings.

    In summary it can be said that the ancient progenitors of our culture and spiritual heritage have never been positively featured in our academic teachings. Instead, their reality was quashed from the earliest days of Roman suppression as the literal diminution of their figures caused a parallel demolition of their history - to be portrayed as the fairies, elves, pixies and vampires of legend.

    Taking a closer look

    The site of Tiya is among the most important and representative of all (Rey 2015 UNESCO 1992-2020). It contains thirty-six monuments (UNESCO 1992-2020), including “[roughly] aligned over an axis of [forty-five metres] a group of thirty-three stelae, with another [cluster] of three stelae a short distance from [the larger group]” (Rey 2015). Among them all, there are thirty-two carved stones, covered in symbols in low-relief although some of them can easily be identified, most still remain difficult to decipher (UNESCO 1992-2020).

    The standing stones on the site are generally taller than the monoliths found elsewhere in the region (Reese 2019). Most measure between two and three metres high with the tallest reaching over five meters (Finneran 2007:244 Reese 2019). Tiya’s sanding stones can be divided into three types: anthropomorphic, phallic (snake-like), and non-anthropomorphic (Reese 2019 Mire 2020:20). While anthropomorphic stelae resemble a human shape, though highly schematized, the phallic or snake type looks like a tall and thin shaft (Finneran 2007:244 Reese 2019). The final groups contains flat monuments with irregular edges but usually resembling rectangular blocks (Derara 2008 Reese 2019). Yet, most of them narrow up to the pointed end, looking like a knife sticking out of the ground (Mire 2020:20). Furthermore, all the monoliths “may [originally] have been coloured in organic pigment” (Finneran 2007:244).

    Either type bears a series of particular symbols carved on them. Their combination predominantly includes engravings representing a sword, the so-called forked branch sign, and what Joussaume (1995) describes as la triade symbolique (the three signs), consisting of the design similar to zigzag (Σ), Х, and finally discs or circles (Mire 2020:11) Most stelae in Tiya also have mysterious perforations on their bottom part (Ibid.:11). Just one stela was still standing at the site of its initial studies, and this in situ stone revealed that the perforations had once been below the ground (Ibid.:11).

    Women and Clothing

    Women in Egypt are expected to be conservative and modest, in following with the Islamic principles for women. Unknown men should never approach an Egyptian woman instead questions and concerns should be addressed toward other men. A large percentage of Egyptian women maintain their virginity until marriage, because virginity is seen as a sign of morality and men prefer to marry virgin women. Women are widely present within the professional workforce, working as doctors, lawyers, college professors and diplomats. A head scarf is often worn as a symbol of modesty and to discourage male advances in the professional field. Women are expected to keep their arms and legs covered, especially in religious arenas.

    A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.

    Watch the video: Τα μεγαλιθικά και η ερμηνεία τους (December 2021).